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Womanhood: Evidence of God’s Goodness

A Song & Verse Post: Evidence by Josh Baldwin

evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid

Every time Evidence comes on in the car I want to pull over and praise God. Today, I came to home to write.

All throughout my history Your faithfulness has walked beside me.

There is not one period of my life that I cannot identify the presence of God and His work in me. I remember being baptized around the age of six. Though I had no understanding of what that meant at the time, I can literally look back on my life to that moment and see how God has held on to me through every devastation, betrayal, abuse, disillusionment and every step of rebuilding and healing.

I remember my one-dollar lock and key diaries from Walgreens that were full of my seven-year-old pleadings for God to save me from the near daily sexual abuse I was subjected to. “Dear God, he did it again. Please make him stop!” Years of one or two line prayers. Silent screams. One day, four years later, God called me out of my house (I didn’t recognize His hand then, but I certainly do now) and guided me on a walk to a nearby police station outpost. I knocked on the door and said to the officer who answered, “I’m being molested.”

From that moment forward, I was never again forced to share space with my violators.

The winter storms made way for spring. In every season, from where I’m standing I see the evidence of Your goodness all over my life. I see Your promises in fulfillment all over my life.

I grew up in families – both sides – that didn’t acknowledge abuse or trauma. Everyone is either a victim or a perpetrator. If anyone could claim to be on the sidelines, they would act deaf, dumb, blind and incapable for standing against any wrongdoing.

A few years after I had forgiven my dad, and a few years before he died, he asked me why I act better than I am. “You’re from the ghetto, you’ll always be ghetto.” This was during the “healing and repair” of our relationship, mind you. It was also one of our last conversations.

Imagine being told by someone who should have molded you for greatness, that you were never expected to rise above his level of filth, disease, psychological, sexual and spiritual bondage. Imagine being looked upon with disgust by a man who, for all intent and purpose, murdered you as a child and then being told as an adult woman that you were expected to remain dead.

At that time, I hadn’t yet started my dedicated faith walk. I was still journaling – writing prayers to God – but the Bible remained a mystery to me. Nothing was catching or keeping. However, I can look back on that time now and see it as the beginning of release in my life. I tried so hard to reconcile that relationship, but when I stopped holding on – when I stopped trying – it was easy to see that I had been on my own the whole time.

I believe firmly that God desires willing hearts most – a desire to conform to His Word in practice and deed. However, He has never allowed me to remain open to those who intentionally harm me repeatedly. I view this as God’s judgement on the other person’s heart condition, rather than my inability to be faithful and obedient to Grace and Mercy.

Imagine telling your sire: I’m more than my beginnings. I’m more than the seed you contributed to my being. I’ve become more than a little girl from the ghetto.

Help me remember when I’m weak, fear may come but fear will leave.

It’s said that we can do anything we can imagine. Yet our imagination is limited by what we’re exposed to. What if we’re exposed to people who can’t see beyond their own dark pits?

I went into a deep depression in my late thirties. My mom died at the age of thirty-six and when I reached that age, my future dimmed to darkness. It was difficult to climb out of my second grave by letting go of the woman I thought I would have become by then. My mother began life as a sharecropper’s granddaughter in rural Mississippi, but I only ever saw her as the best of all created beings. As difficult as her life had been, she had at least accomplished the Holy Grail of Womanhood (according to society) – marriage and children. No matter that she tied herself to a rotten man and worked multiple minimum wage jobs to house and feed her children, she remained the epitome of everything to me. It was difficult to see myself as worthy of more time in this world than she had. Harder still to face the length of her lifespan without even a taste of the Holy Grail of Womanhood.

The end of beginnings is the beginning of letting go.

You lead my heart to victory. You are my strength and You always will be.

My birthday this year will put me at ten years beyond the lifespan of my mother – and still not even a lick of the traditional Holy Grail of Womanhood. Today, I can say I am completely fine with that. In recent years I’ve not only learned to embrace my solitude, I’ve come to appreciate it, honor it and protect it. There’s something being forged in me that I can’t articulate. That glimpse of greatness that repelled my dad fifteen years ago, is unfurling in a wondrous way. I’ve grown from hiding my light under a bushel to Clarkeshia Kent exposing her S with a declarative chest thrust. Yet my light is still gaining strength. I foresee beaming across the Universe.

Why settle for tradition when the Universe is already mine?

I’m becoming a Woman I never imagined I would be. Nothing about my life today was part of the dream, fantasy or hope. Everything about my life is better than all my mind and heart conjured for me. There’s something to be said about what we’re exposed to. Exposure sounds expansive, but it’s actually limiting. If we only trust what our eyes see, we will be satisfied with that view for our life. However, when we begin to let go of all the dead things – relationships, hopes, dreams, ideals, culture, tradition – we will have room to invite the previously unimaginable in. We will be able to develop into beings of light with experiences beyond the confinement of the world. Living beyond the construct breaks the paradigm. At which point, you’ll actually be able to imagine what previously seemed impossible. Thus, within your reality all things are then possible.

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.

But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued[d] the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

~ Revelation 12:1-2, 5-6, 13-14, 17

 

[NOTE: More of my story is shared in Clichés: A Life in Verse, My God and Me, and Desert of Solitude. Some poems from Clichés will be reprinted in I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America. All books are available on Harvest-Life.org/shop and Amazon.com]

 

Evidence

by Josh Baldwin w/Dante Bowe

All throughout my history
Your faithfulness has walked beside me
The winter storms made way for spring
In every season, from where I’m standing

I see the evidence of Your goodness
All over my life
All over my life
I see Your promises in fulfillment
All over my life
All over my life

Help me remember when I’m weak
Fear may come but fear will leave
You lead my heart to victory
You are my strength and You always will be

See the cross, the empty grave
The evidence is endless
All my sin rolled away
Because of You, oh Jesus

Why should I fear
The evidence is here

 

See a Victory

by Elevation Worship w/Brandon Lake

The weapon may be formed but it won’t prosper
When the darkness falls it won’t prevail
Cause the God I serve knows only how to triumph
My God will never fail
My God will never fail

I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord
I’m gonna see a victory
I’m gonna see a victory
For the battle belongs to You Lord

There’s power in the mighty name of Jesus
Every war He wages He will win
I’m not backing down from any giant
I know how this story ends
I know how this story ends

You take what the enemy meant for evil
And You turn it for good
You turn it for good


Sources:

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ACAD – Praise: Exodus 15

A Song of Deliverance (Song of Moses)

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord:

“I will sing to the Lord,
    for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
    into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him —
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
The Lord is a warrior;
    Yahweh[a] is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army
    he has hurled into the sea.
The finest of Pharaoh’s officers
    are drowned in the Red Sea.[b]
The deep waters gushed over them;
    they sank to the bottom like a stone.

“Your right hand, O Lord,
    is glorious in power.
Your right hand, O Lord,
    smashes the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty,
    you overthrow those who rise against you.
You unleash your blazing fury;
    it consumes them like straw.
At the blast of your breath,
    the waters piled up!
The surging waters stood straight like a wall;
    in the heart of the sea the deep waters became hard.

“The enemy boasted, ‘I will chase them
    and catch up with them.
I will plunder them
    and consume them.
I will flash my sword;
    my powerful hand will destroy them.’
But you blew with your breath,
    and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
    in the mighty waters.

“Who is like you among the gods, O Lord 
    glorious in holiness,
awesome in splendor,
    performing great wonders?
You raised your right hand,
    and the earth swallowed our enemies.

“With your unfailing love you lead
    the people you have redeemed.
In your might, you guide them
    to your sacred home.
The peoples hear and tremble;
    anguish grips those who live in Philistia.
The leaders of Edom are terrified;
    the nobles of Moab tremble.
All who live in Canaan melt away;
    terror and dread fall upon them.
The power of your arm
    makes them lifeless as stone
until your people pass by, O Lord,
    until the people you purchased pass by.
You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain —
    the place, O Lord, reserved for your own dwelling,
    the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.
The Lord will reign forever and ever!”

When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers rushed into the sea, theLord brought the water crashing down on them. But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground!

Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced. And Miriam sang this song:

“Sing to the Lord,
    for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
    into the sea.”

Bitter Water at Marah

Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means “bitter”).

Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. So Moses cried out to the Lord for help, and theLord showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink.

It was there at Marah that the Lord set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”

After leaving Marah, the Israelites traveled on to the oasis of Elim, where they found twelve springs and seventy palm trees. They camped there beside the water.

Footnotes:

  1. 15:3 Yahweh is a transliteration of the proper name YHWH that is sometimes rendered “Jehovah”; in this translation it is usually rendered “the Lord” (note the use of small capitals).
  2. 15:4 Hebrew sea of reeds; also in 15:22.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

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ACAD: Giving Thanks – 1 Chronicles 16

The Ark Placed in a Tent

And they brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord and distributed to all Israel, both men and women, to each a loaf of bread, a portion of meat,[a] and a cake of raisins.

Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel. Asaph was the chief, and second to him were Zechariah, Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-edom, and Jeiel, who were to play harps and lyres; Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God. Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord by Asaph and his brothers.

David’s Song of Thanks

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Israel his servant,
    children of Jacob, his chosen ones!

He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.
Remember his covenant forever,
    the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham,
    his sworn promise to Isaac,
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
    to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan,
    as your portion for an inheritance.”

When you were few in number,
    of little account, and sojourners in it,
wandering from nation to nation,
    from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them;
    he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
    do my prophets no harm!”

Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
    Tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his place.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;[b]
    tremble before him, all the earth;
    yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
    and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
    let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
    before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

Say also:

“Save us, O God of our salvation,
    and gather and deliver us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in your praise.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!”

Then all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord.

Worship Before the Ark

So David left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the Lordto minister regularly before the ark as each day required, and also Obed-edom and his[c] sixty-eight brothers, while Obed-edom, the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah were to be gatekeepers. And he left Zadok the priest and his brothers the priests before the tabernacle of the Lord in the high place that was at Gibeon to offer burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of burnt offering regularly morning and evening, to do all that is written in the Law of the Lord that he commanded Israel. With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the Lord,for his steadfast love endures forever. Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song. The sons of Jeduthun were appointed to the gate.

43 Then all the people departed each to his house, and David went home to bless his household.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Chronicles 16:3 Compare Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
  2. 1 Chronicles 16:29 Or in holy attire
  3. 1 Chronicles 16:38 Hebrew their

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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Singing to a Barren Womb

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  ~ Colossians 3:16

I believe I’ve been fighting depression for many years. I believe Satan has been attacking me continually with very little respite since childhood, if not from birth. And I believe he is now attempting to destroy my hope in my future by attacking my womb. I must admit, there have been many times over the past few months where I’ve wanted to give up on my future and let him win.

The thought of Satan counting me as a victory galls me. But not more than the thought of me giving up on God…and His faithfulness. He has promised to provide those who love Him the desires of their heart.

I never imagined facing such a difficulty in both my physical and spiritual life. For my body to come to a point of such finite impossibility and me knowing in my spirit that my God can do anything – teetering on this point of convergence is a test of balance and faith. I thank God regularly for the measure of faith He has given me, for it’s the only thing keeping me from giving myself over to the encroaching darkness intent on consuming me.

I have come face to face with the dragon pursuing me so ardently. I know his intent to steal every seed of hope, joy, love, and faith from me. I know he is committed to destroying anything in me that can be used as a testimony for the glory of God. I understand that he has asked for me and has been granted permission to come against me.

I also know that my life is not his unless I choose to give it to him. And superseding all of that is the knowledge that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has prayed for me. He has prayed that I return to my brothers and sisters in Him stronger than I was before this trial began. And He continues to intercede on my behalf at the right hand of our Father. It is only through faith that I can believe this. It is only because of the measure of faith I’ve been graced with that I have even the slightest sliver of hope of overcoming the darkness in my life. It is my faith that bolsters my spirit and allows my spirit to encourage me by singing songs to my womb.

“Whose report will you believe? / I will believe the report of the LORD!”

Hannah’s Song

She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”  ~ 1 Samuel 1:10-11

When doctors first explained that the likelihood of me becoming pregnant was a near impossibility, I couldn’t think beyond the fact that they were saying “no” to something I’ve long believed God had green-lighted for me. When they explained different surgical procedures that could either help or continue to hinder my body’s procreative capabilities, my hands immediately went to my belly with a silent guttural cry, “YOU CAN’T HAVE MY WOMB!”

What turmoil I’ve been in since that dark dreadful Friday. I went from blaming myself for all the men I said no to in my possibly fruitful twenties to scolding myself for being a near recluse in my thirties. And of course the thought crossed my mind to go out and find a man to help me prove the diagnosis of barrenness wrong. But in between each gust of wind that takes me to the edge of my reason, my spirit whispers, “Whose report will you believe?” And my mouth sings back, “I will believe the report of the Lord.”

I don’t remember that Saturday, but I remember on Sunday, during our time of worship, one hand stayed on my belly and I kept the other raised in praise as I lifted my womb up to my Creator and Healer. Later that day I researched “when God shuts up the womb.” Now that I think on it, the remainder of Friday and Saturday were spent researching my diagnosis and the possible procedures and their possible results….

There are several mentions of God shutting up wombs in the Bible. And each instance is either preceded or followed by a recipe for God to open the wombs He closed. Remembering these instances keeps my mind off of Satan and his intent to destroy my life so completely that I bear no fruit at all – physically or spiritually. Remembering that God is in control even of the situations He has allowed Satan to interfere in and granted me the free will to choose my actions, brings peace. I have to remind myself that if I have truly surrendered all that I am and all that I’m becoming to Christ Jesus, then that includes surrendering my life and my womb to Him as well. It includes letting go of the worries and concerns of not having the future I’ve envisioned for years. It includes accepting that where I am is where I’m supposed to be and how I am is how I’m supposed to be. I can’t second guess my past or re-write my future. I must trust God and know that His purpose for me is greater than what I see in the darkness of this moment.

That’s what my spirit is telling me. My emotions are another matter. Emotions are irrefutable proof that the Holy Spirit isn’t about quelling our human nature as much as His presence guides and soothes our transition from each height and depth of joy and sorrow.

The description of Hannah’s depressed state in 1 Samuel 1:10 is just as much a description of my own current depression. Her cry and prayer to God is no less heartfelt than my own weeping prayers offered to my Heavenly Father. The recipe that is shown when God is called upon to open a womb He has shut is a lifelong promise of devotion and a covenant to dedicate the first fruit of the previously barren womb to the service of God for the life of the child.

“My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.

“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.

Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.

The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.

Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.

“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.

The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.” 
~ 1 Samuel 2:1-10

Look at Sarah’s story. Read about Samson’s mother. Remember Mary – I add the Virgin Mother in this category as well because she was untouched by man, but made pregnant by the Spirit of God. And Mary sang a song too. Then of course there’s Elizabeth, who like Sarah, conceived long after she could have naturally done so outside of God’s plan for her.

Mary’s Song

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  ~ Luke 1:45

Mary didn’t have an extended period of depression or concern about her future. She was given a word by the angel Gabriel and replied simply, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) Mary knew who she was and was willing to be used however the Lord chose to use her. Songs of thanksgiving and praise. Songs acknowledging the greatness of God and denouncing the pride of man. The Lord God kills and brings to life. He brings us down and raises us up. He is merciful to those who fear him and he guards those who are faithful to Him. God is good. And my desire is to serve Him all the days of my life.

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.”  
~ Luke 1:46-50

My Song

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.  ~ Jeremiah 29:1213

My song is very simple. Very short. The referenced verses loop through my mind daily.

Satan has asked for me,
but Jesus has prayed for me.
I’m under vicious attack. Yet I stand.
My faith allows me to stand.
For my Lord has plans for me.
Plans for good, not evil,
to give me a future and a hope.
There is hope for my future.

God knows. His word is the first and the last in all things. I’m expected to cry and pray to my Father during turbulent times. He’s expecting me to seek Him wholeheartedly at all times. I am where I’m supposed to be. I am how I’m supposed to be as well. By faith, I will continue to praise Him and trust that my life will be everything He wants it to be – and my joy will be complete because my desires will line up with His.

Reference verses: 1 Samuel 1:10-11, 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Jeremiah 29:11-13, Luke 1:45-50, Luke 22:31, Job 1:6-12,  Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 6:10-20

Related posts: “It was all worth it.”, Pleasing God While in the World, For The Sake of His Praise