Under the Juniper Tree
As far as I can think back, I remember the aching. I can trace it back to memories of my 5 yr old self. Shame held me captive. And I held shame like a little crumbled napkin you used to clean your nose over and over, shoved it in your pocket, and forgot about. Until you found yourself for a moment without a clean tissue to wipe your tears, you pulled out the dirty napkin and hurried to use that crusty thing from your pocket. Doing it quickly so no one sees you need it or used it, hoping no one knows that you never bothered to throw it away.
Shameful, yet you still never threw it away. As embarrassing as this was, it never deters you, somehow you never remember to throw it out. You need to but you can't. That's what shame felt like.
It felt like remembering sexual violation but convincing yourself you were dreaming. It felt like being scared that you were doing something so wrong and it was all your fault. I kept the dirty napkin for years, I never knew how to get rid of it. The pain followed me everywhere. In my nice warm home with parents that loved me, with my large and loving extended family, and in school where I was a well-mannered kid and diligent student. Shame and pain would come too. Sit in the corner of every room. Menacing and eager to remind me that I was nothing, nobody, unworthy, and should just die.
Shame and death are cousins. Pain and suicide are friends. Suicidal thoughts chased me everywhere. Just die, you shouldn't be here.
At 14 yrs old I attempted for the first and last time. Taking a giant bottle of pills, hoping to wake up and find myself somewhere else, I.... woke up still here. My shock led me to tell my parents and get real help. My family, my church, and my pastor prayed with me until deliverance came.
This is my testimony of deliverance. Unfortunately, the shame did not disappear. The suicidal thoughts were gone but the shame of the attempt and the spiritual implications lingered. When on the outside it looks like you have no reason to hold that type of pain in your heart, you blame yourself more for your stupidity and selfishness. Now shame is a resident. And even though suicidal thoughts are now under my feet, they have leverage, entryway, and audience every time shame comes to play its dirty game.
Where did the secret go that led me to feel this shame? What happened to the pain and aching? Honestly, it lingered. A houseguest that wore out its welcome. With feet on the coffee table and dishes in the sink. Just.go, I said. You go! It retorted back to me.
Out of the corner of my eye, it followed me in board rooms and bedrooms and I hated it and it hated me It hated my deliverance, my testimony, and the fact that I kept existing, learning to live, and determined that I'd become new daily, even if it was trying to kill me.
Have you ever fought this battle? Has shame, pain, and loneliness followed you and tried to burglarize you of your joy and testimony?
In 2 kings we find a bold, fearless man in pain. Pain erupted because life, the battle of fighting Jezebel and the feeling of being the only prophet that hadn't bowed to Baal had worn him down. I'm sure it wore him down and sat on his shoulder whispering that" I and only I" line. The line we've all heard. The line that convinces you that loneliness is a fact. His pain intersected with fear and a vulnerable statement comes out of the mouth of the greatest prophet of his time. He was so great that when Jesus came that they thought he was Elijah.
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a lone broom or juniper tree and asked that he might die. He said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers.
1 Kings 19:4 AMPC
Under the juniper tree the pain, tiredness, loneliness, fear, and bewilderment get a voice.
Take my life, I am no better.
When suicidal thoughts sit with you, they find the weak spot. The "I am no better" spot and convince you life is not worth living.
Life is painful and full of disappointment, but also so incredibly beautiful because God creates opportunities for newness daily. He literally renews mercy daily, he has given us the sure mercy of David, He says that anyone in Christ is a new creature. The suicidal thought says things will always be this painful so end it now. Shame and pain try to convince you to abort opportunity by cutting it off before you have a chance to see it blossom. God acknowledges your pain and says You are worthy of healing, redemption and you can change. Even if your circumstances don't immediately change, your responses will.
This is what the aching thoughts don't want to give you a chance to hear. God's whisper that says, you're enough, you're mine, you're worthy of love, I am bigger than your pain.
Elijah sat down under the juniper tree and God ministered to his pain.
As he lay asleep under the broom or juniper tree, behold, an angel touched him and said to him, Arise and eat. He looked, and behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a bottle of water at his head. And he ate and drank and lay down again.
1 Kings 19:5-6 AMPC
Arise and look around you. God made a way for you.
Elijah, a prophet says something so powerful in his weakest moment.
" He said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; "
In the hour of weakness and despair, He says take my life and end me. God heard his heart say the words but to the Lord they held different meaning; "take my life" meant take my life, I can't do this on my own and restore me.
And the angel brings him food and then begins to restore him, prove to him that he is not alone and the Lord talks to him in a whisper.
When you cry out to the Lord and say I've had enough, God can literally translate the words and interpret the heart. Elijah prophesied to his soul and said Lord take my life and God took it. He literally took it out of Elijah's hand and heart full of pain and used him for his glory, and then took Elijah at the appointed time straight to heaven. The request for his life to be taken was so profoundly honored that God did not even let him experience death.
As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire with horses of fire suddenly appeared and separated the two of them. Then Elijah went up into heaven in the whirlwind. 2 Kings 2:11
When shame and suicidal thoughts come, God can take your life. Say Lord I've had enough of this shame. Take my life so I can live for you. I'm no better than anyone else that came before me. I literally cannot live this way anymore. Take my life, Lord. I've had enough of myself. I've had enough shame and pain.
I promise you that God will take your life for his own.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matt 11:28-30 NIV
God will break the shackles of shame
The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity], Luke 4:18 AMPC
And give you a new life.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things[k] have come 2 Cor 5:17