She Didn't Live Happily Ever After . . . But She Could Have
She Didn’t Live Happily Ever After … But She Could Have
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair,” (Isaiah 61:1-4 NIV).
Friend to Friend
We all know the story of Cinderella. She went from being held captive in the furnace to being a captivating belle of the ball, from being covered with ashes to being crowned with jewels, from being abused by her wicked stepfamily to being adored by her entire village. We all love “And they lived happily ever after” endings.
In 2 Samuel 13 of the Bible, there is a story that somewhat reminds me of Cinderella’s, but with two major differences: it is no fairy tale and the events occur in reverse. It is the story of Tamar, the lovely princess daughter of King David.
Tamar was one of the most beautiful young ladies in the entire kingdom. Her name meant “palm tree,” a symbol of victory and honor. She had several siblings: sisters, brothers, half-brothers, and half-sisters. It was a royal blended mess.
One of her half brothers, Amnon, lusted after his beautiful half-sister to the point he couldn’t sleep at night. At the advice of a wicked friend, Amnon plotted to lure Tamar into his bedroom with the help of their unsuspecting father. Amnon pretended to be sick and requested some of Tamar’s special baked bread. He also requested that she feed it to him with her own hands. Tamar obeyed her father’s request to tend to her brother. After she entered his bedroom, the supposed sickly Amnon commanded the servants to leave the room and lock the door behind them. He grabbed Tamar, threw her on his bed, and even though she begged and pleaded for him to stop, he stole her most treasured possession, her virginity. After he had his way with her and his lust was satisfied, Amnon tossed Tamar on the floor along with her hopes and dreams.
The distraught, devastated, and demeaned Tamar ran from Amnon’s room, crying out in anguish and despair. She tore her royal robes and ran the halls searching for her beloved brother, Absalom. When Absalom came to her rescue, he surmised what had happened and bid her to come to his house to live. “Shhhhh,” he whispered, “don’t worry; I’ll take care of you. Now don’t tell anyone what happened, just leave it up to me.”
And even though Tamar was still a royal princess, she spent the rest of her days secluded in a darkened room, wearing sackcloth as if in mourning and placing ashes on her head in shame. Never again did she place the royal robe which was rightfully hers on her shoulders or live as the princess she truly was. She lived the rest of her life believing she could never be restored.
This is not just the story of Tamar, but the story of many women I meet everyday – hiding because of shame, feeling ugly and unworthy to accomplish God’s dreams. Paul reminds us that when we come to Christ, he makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), but many conceal or cover up that beauty with shame from past mistakes or abuse. It is as if they rise each morning and put a fresh dusting of ashes on their souls; the very ashes that Jesus came to wash away. And dear sister, it is Satan who keeps the supply of ashes coming and Satan who holds the box of ashes in his hand with the lid open ready for us to use.
Oh, we may not be walking around with ashes on our heads or dressed in burlap sacks, but we wear the mantle of shame that Satan has placed on our shoulders and secures with guilt-ridden deception and lies. I meet many women who have children, a husband, a successful career, and appear beautiful on the outside, but are spending their days in desolation of the soul because Satan has convinced them that’s where they belong. Wearing the cloak of shame because of past abuse, misuse or mistakes, they don’t realize that Jesus Christ has washed them clean, purchased a robe of righteousness made just for them, and He is eager to place it on their shoulders.
Please don’t let Satan deceive you into believing that you are anything less than a beautiful princess. Do not allow him to convince you your dignity cannot be restored. The truth is, it already has been. We simply need to start believing the truth.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus in these verses:
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair,” (Isaiah 61:1-4).
Jesus has the glass slipper in His hand. He’s waiting for the princess to offer her foot – your foot. Don’t let Satan tell you it doesn’t fit. The One who made your foot has already decreed that it does.
And they lived happily ever after. Dear Lord, I know that is the way the story of my life will end. I’ve read the book. I’ll live in eternity with the Prince. Forgive me when I sit in shame and forget what Jesus has done for me. Today, I will walk clothed in the mantle of righteousness that Jesus purchased just for me. In His Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
I’ve told you the story of Tamar, but I’d like for you to go back and read it for yourself. You can find it in 2 Samuel 13.
Tamar’s father didn’t do anything to help her get over her shame and come out of hiding. Your Father did. Describe, in your own words, just what God did to restore your crown.
More From the Girlfriends
Today’s devotion was taken from Sharon’s new book, 5 Dreams of Every Woman and How God Wants to Fulfill Them(a new revised version of her previous book, Dreams of a Woman). This book is for every woman whose life hasn’t turned out like she dreamed it would … and I think that includes most of us. Can you risk the hope that God still has dreams for your life? That He hasn’t forgotten you? Place your hand firmly in His--take a deep breath and begin the exciting journey to a place you thought you’d never find: the dream God planned for you all along. Let’s dare to dream again!
BEES, BATS, AND STINKBUGS
Dr. Chuck Missler
Koinonia House Ministry
A truck loaded with honeybees crashed on Highway 220 in Wyoming Monday, bouncing 150-200 bee hives down the road. The bees made a nuisance of themselves until protectively-suited workers eliminated the problem. Aside from the rare bee-hauling semitrailer accident, the problem with honey bees are not their numbers, but in their lack thereof. Healthy honey bee colonies are tremendously important to farmers everywhere, but Colony Collapse Disorder has been threatening these valuable pollinators since 2006. Bees are not alone. Bats face the spread of a devastating disease in 16 states, to the concern of farmers. And while bees and bats, the farmer's friends, struggle to stay healthy, the despised stinkbug returns from its winter hibernation and is expected to destroy crops throughout the East.
Colony Collapse Disorder has troubled bee keepers and farmers for a solid five years, worrying the agricultural industry that depends on the bees to pollinate crops. Honey bees have been dying in record numbers, and it has been difficult to nail down a specific culprit. In 2007, mites and insect diseases were blamed. Pesticides, environmental change, genetically modified crops with pest control modifications, and cell phone radiation have all been accused of causing the bee deaths. Regardless, farmers know that crops won't grow unless they get pollinated. Without bees, we all starve to death.
"Farmers say they have scores of bees fly out, land on their plants and drop to the ground, dead - or they can't even fly," said Mark Schlueter, associate professor of biology at Georgia Gwinnett College. "This could jeopardize the food supply of the whole planet."
According to the USDA, colonies lost 29 percent of their bees in 2009 and 34 percent in 2010. One major problem causing a weakness in some bee populations is the lack of food diversity. When single species crops grow as far as the eye can see with no break, bees have a hard time getting the food they need.
"So many of the problems come down to one thing, and that is monoculture. The bees can't even live there, they'll starve to death. From the point of view of nature, it's insane," says Maureen Maxwell of the New Zealand Beekeepers' Association. The problem isn't just in America; bee populations are dying around the world.
There has been some hope. Colony Collapse Disorder has been a well-known problem for the past five years, and plenty of bee businesses have started up during that time. Despite the losses, honey production rose 20 percent from 2009 to 2010 for a total of 176 million pounds last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. The number of honey producing colonies rose seven percent to 2.68 million colonies in 2010. While Colony Collapse Disorder continues to be a scourge to bee-keepers and farmers alike, some progress is being made in raising more colonies. Good thing.
While most people recognize the value of a honey bee, many fewer appreciate the significance of bat populations. Forget vampires. A bat can eat well over half its body weight in insects every night and studies have shown that a cology of 150 big brown bats can eat 1.3 million insects in a year.
Unfortunately, white-nose syndrome has been wiping out bat populations from Texas to New York since its discovery in 2006. In white-nose syndrome, a fungus grows on the bats' noses and ears and wing membranes while they hibernate during the winter. The fungus itself apparently does not kill the bats, but scientists believe it wakes them from hibernation early so that they waste their fat reserves and starve to death before the explosion of insects in the spring.
Many east coast caves that are tourist attractions have been closed to the public as wildlife experts work to stop the spread of the fungus. While humans are not susceptible to white-nose-syndrome, the spores could be transported on their clothes and shoes.
Bats eat a wide variety of insects, and farmers are dependent on their voracious appetites. Among the pests they eat are cucumber beetles, leafhoopers, and stink bugs. They eat the moths of crop-damaging worms, interrupting the pests' reproductive cycles.
Researchers in the April edition of Science estimate that wiping out the US bat populations would cost farmers more than $3.7 billion - potentially up to $50 billion. People who hate pesticides should love their local bats.
Speaking of annoying insects, the stinkbugs are rubbing their eyes and yawning and hopping out of their winter hibernation. The brown marmorated stink bug beetle appeared in America first in Allentown, Pennsylvania in the late 1990s and has multiplied into swarms that coat houses and windows every summer.
The bugs have spread to 33 states, where they promise to destroy crops like sweet corn, apples, pears, grapes, berries, peaches, tomatoes, peppers and beans. Trissolcus wasps keep the stinkbugs under control in their native Japan by eating the stinkbug eggs. However, importing these tiny wasps to fight the stinkbugs may not be the best idea if the wasps also eat the eggs of other, beneficial varieties of stinkbugs.
While the price of gold and silver rise and investors scrutinize the stock markets, the very basic food needs of the United States - and the rest of the world - are under attack. Farmers face losing large numbers of their friends the bees and bats, while pests like stinkbugs reproduce in plague-like numbers. We have a constant reminder that sin - like a disease, like a pestilence - has infected the world, and all our striving will not make it go away. We also have a constant reminder that we were created in the image of God, and in our creative power we are able to find answers to many of our physical problems. Yet, with as many advances as we make, the sin remains. The blights and bugs keep coming. Thank God, we have a Savior in the heavens who has died to heal all our diseases – even the diseases faced by entire nations.
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Melissa Greene: "Imagine" (LIFE Today)
Former Avalon member Melissa Greene performs a live single from her solo album.
By SIMPLY DIVINE LOVE on Thursday, April 28, 2011