Dear Russ, Doris & Dawn, It is always in season to give thanks. I want to share with you what God has done.
The culmination of my captivity has arrived. God has brought me back. He has emptied the vile and made my mouth to praise Him. He has redeemed me from the grip of the terrible and made me able to stand before Him. Blessed be the Lord!
It was a cold, dreary, rainy day here in Ohio on November 16, 2011, at 9:30AM. I sat in the library preparing for a conference table discussion with Earl, as you, Russ and Dawn, taught us during our time with you. Young and old came and went, paying no attention to me as I sat in the comfortable chair by the big arched windows. It was a scene very unlike a year ago. It was then that I sat at your window, the beauty of Lake Lure staring back at me. That beauty and God’s servants beckoned to me, urging me to hold up the hands that hung down and open them to the journey to come. The dread and fear were immense. God in His mercy and lovingkindness had orchestrated the people, the events, the time, and even the window. Could I trust this awesome Creator with the things buried and hidden inside? Could I keep the hands held up and opened until He blessed? One year to the day I can answer, “Yes,” to those questions.
I give witness to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith Who endured the cross. He despised the shame, loathed and struggled against the weight of the shame of the world. He did not embrace it as a friend, or pretend it wasn’t there. His eyes remained fixed on the Father’s joy and glory that would be His. He anticipated the joy of victory won, of mission accomplished, of captivity taken captive. Bearing the reproach and covering His face in shame was done so that I wouldn’t have to bear the same, so that I could be brought near to His Holy Father. The Son’s willingness to become an enemy of God, to become sin for me, and to be torn apart, opened the door for my reconciliation. It made peace possible, prisoners set free, and the mistreated made whole.
As His child, He lovingly, graciously, planned and invited me to be a partaker of His holiness through His scourging. I too bear the marks of shame and reproach. He chose me to bear them in the victory He provided. He asks me to bear them in beauty, a beauty that only He can create, as I humbly bow my knees to them. Blessed be the Lord who has found me to be worthy in the sharing of His sufferings and the scourging unto holiness.
The Author has written. The book is closed. He sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for me. He is forever cheering me on to the finish, anchoring me upward till my last breath is taken.
May I too remember the prisoners and the mistreated, as if chained with them. May I endure and bear in beauty and in victory whatever my Father deems necessary. May my soul find rest in Him. May I walk in the land of the living and drink from the cup of salvation.
To God be the glory for the great things He has done!!!
You, as a team at IBL, have been faithful to strengthen the hands that hang down and to implore others to keep their hands open to God. You have remembered the prisoners as if chained with them. You have labored to show them God’s truth; the path to freedom.
Thank you for extending your hands of service and offering the hope of Christ. As one journey ends, so must another begin. I have come to the city of the Living God, God the Judge of all, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. He shakes the things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:18-29
Let us have grace by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
Praising Him for His unspeakable gifts(!), IBL being one of them.
From David Phelan, President of IBL: Marilyn Shaffer and her husband, Earl, are veteran missionaries serving as U.S. church planters. They are ministering at present in Columbus, Ohio. From her heart, Marilyn shares insights the Lord gave her as she began the journey of accepting and praising God for the pain of past hurts and replacing self-protective lies and behaviors with God’s truth.