O Holy Night

I fully intended for this song to be the last of 12 total post for this series. It is the last post, but God showed me how I had chosen 12 on my own without consulting Him. He never intended for it to be 12 or even 10 posts this year. He showed me that I need to be focusing more on family time right now, so this is the last post of this series for this year. I will add more to it as the years go on, so be sure to come back next year. As I sang these lyrics two nights ago at the 4th of our 8 total Christmas services at church, God spoke to me. “Renee, I’m so proud of your growth. I have so much more in store for you! Keep seeking me.” After these words were fully imprinted on my heart, accompanied by an outrageous hot flash, I nearly fell to my knees in full surrender. I mean, not only did I have the honor of singing in choir and setting the scene for an epic worship experience for thousands of people, not only was I singing my absolute favorite Christmas song, in that exact moment God sent me a message and it was loud and clear. Out of every person in that room, He made that moment special for me. I guess to understand the magnitude of this moment I need to tell you about the journey He set me on a few years ago.

2017 ended on a very low note for me. After a very demeaning struggle with someone I respected and treasured both professionally and personally, I walked away from a place I called my work home for over 7 years. It took me so long to get up the courage to throw in the towel because I felt that withstanding the ridicule and shame of that toxic environment was some kind of test and by walking away I was tucking my tail in defeat. Let me take this opportunity to encourage you that it’s ok to walk away from toxicity. You are not a failure for setting a boundary and it doesn’t mean you are giving up on anything. Removing yourself from an emotionally or physically unsafe environment is a good thing!

So, I began 2018 at a new job that had my head spinning for several months. Have you ever gotten lost in a massive crowd of people? That was me. I was confused and felt completely alone in a sea of people. Not only was I learning a whole new job, I was also searching for closure and really any kind of direction. A month or so into the year, I started seeing social media posts and blogs from my friends about their “word of the year” for 2018. Many had received clear visions from God about the paths He wanted them to take, so I begged God to send me a vision, a word, anything to show me I was on the right path and had made the right decision. If I’m being completely honest, I was super jealous of all the people who had already received their word. I mean, half the year had gone by and I still had no clear direction. I spent months pleading my case to God, as if He was intentionally punishing me. I was mad and so frustrated, but what I learned in that time of waiting is that the Creator of time doesn’t depend on the calendar page to flip or the new year to begin, because His timing is perfect. Regardless of the date, He gives us the knowledge we need for the season we’re in. In that season, His message for me was to be still and know He already had everything figured out.

O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appears and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

O Holy Night, Verse 1

Something that’s extremely comforting to me is that God is a planner. He knew that I need that season of waiting, just like He knew this world needed Jesus to mend the gaping hole that sin left. My waiting time was only a few months but the Israelites waited over 400 years from the last prophet in the Old Testament to the birth of Jesus. 400 years of generation after generation passing down their stories. 400 years of searching and longing for more of God. 400 years brought to fruition in 1 night. Jesus was sent to earth specifically to bring hope to us and break the chains of strongholds.

Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night, O Holy night, O night divine!

O Holy Night, Chorus 1

A moment of pure worship for the greatest sacrifice ever known to mankind. A surrender of our will to accept His Will. The word He finally revealed to me in late 2018 was ‘fearless.’ Through a series of events, He brought me face-to-face with some of my biggest fears – generational giants and chains that had bound me for decades. Now, I won’t lie and tell you I don’t still struggle with fear. This journey is one that takes so much time and determination to overcome because the battles come in waves that can leave you gasping for air. When He finally revealed what I had been longing for, He also equipped me with the tools I needed to accomplish the mission He gave me. For the first time in years, I had discernment and felt authority over the enemy and his plans to derail me. Although I’ve always loved to sing, one of my biggest fears was singing in front of others. At a young age, back when worrying about what others thought shouldn’t have even been a priority, one of my classmates told me my voice was flat and mocked me for not having a good voice. I didn’t sing in front of anyone again until my first marriage, almost 15 years later. Although I’m not sure he meant it negatively, my ex-husband told me one time that I should just let the people with musical talent sing. I was completely devastated. I mean, I’m not a vocalist by any means but I LOVE to sing! I sing in the car every second I get. To me, there’s no greater joy than getting lost in a song and worship music is my absolute favorite! As a direct result of this trauma, I was so afraid to sing in church that I used to lip sync in the pew. I didn’t want to give my family or anyone else the chance of humiliating me again. Well, God, being all-knowing decided this was the first fear I needed to face. I remember typing out a message to our then Creative Arts Pastor several times about how I felt God was leading me to sing, then immediately deleting it. One morning I typed the message out on my phone and went to delete it, only it wouldn’t delete. I kept hitting the backspace button but nothing was happening. None of the words I had typed could be erased. I knew that was the sign I needed. Less than a month later, I had joined the church choir and was face-to-face with a chain I had carried for 23 years.

Photo credit: GodTV

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains He shall break
For the slave is our brother
And in His Name
All oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy
In grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy Name

O Holy Night, Verse 3

The freedom that comes with Jesus breaking a chain is extremely empowering, but it takes sacrifice on our part to even bring that chain to Him in the first place. This is especially true when we feel oppressed by others. Most of our problems seem to lie in what we allow ourselves to believe based on the opinion of others. I let myself be consumed by fear of ridicule and embarrassment, instead of stepping out in faith and knowing God would catch me if I fell. And, boy, did I fall. I allowed the hateful words of someone else dictate my praise and worship. She tore open a wound that had been there festering underneath the surface for 24 years. It hurt, so I removed myself. I had grown so fond of singing in choir and helping set the scene for our church family to encounter Jesus, but with one lash from her whip, I was gone and didn’t sing I choir for well over 2 years. In fact, I declined the invitation when I received an email about revamping choir. I just couldn’t bring myself to face that kind of ridicule. I mean, I walked away from a good job because of undeserved ridicule and shame. The thing about God is that He wants you to overcome darkness and He wants to be by your side when you do.

Christ is the Lord
O praise His Name forever
His power and glory
Evermore proclaim
His power and glory
Evermore proclaim

O Holy Night, Chorus 2

I had a conversation with God on stage last night during our 6th service (quietly because my pastor was in the middle of his sermon). I probably looked insane mouthing words that no one could hear but I told God I didn’t care what anyone else thought of me because His view was the only one that mattered. I’ve faced ridicule and so much hurt from people who are supposed to be loving, kind and accepting. I thought I had thrown down and denounced that shame. I thought I was over it, but the hurt was still there, it was just stuck deep down inside me. When I was listening to a podcast yesterday morning, the woman speaking, who is someone I’ve come to admire for her courage and determination to worship God regardless of who’s watching, was explaining her experience with church hurt. Her words made my heart skip a beat. I knew deep down that people had experiences similar to mine but for her to actually talk about it publicly just validated my story. God knew I needed to hear those words. It’s like He orchestrated this whole podcast for me alone. He used that episode to bring out the hurt I still felt and last night He fully healed me of it! The prison door burst open and the chains fell off! Praise the Lord that even when we feel left out, He’s there to include us and claim victory for us!

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night divine

O Holy Night, Chorus 3

I was truly blessed in 2018 and 2019 to seek and find the discernment that led me to a place of fearless worship. That journey brought about so much spiritual growth and emotional healing for me, and it led straight into the season of sacrifice that I’ve been in for the past 2 years. I learned that God is intentional with His plans and just because some things work for others, doesn’t mean I should seek them for my life. Now, I’m focusing my attention on patiently waiting for God to reveal my “Word of the season” instead of following everyone else’s “word of the year.” Because my lessons seem to come in seasons. Releasing the reigns and allowing Him to show me His way for me has been one of the biggest accomplishments of my entire life. And just to let you in on the God wink I received today, my new “Word of the season” is intentional. I can’t wait to share with you about the doors He’s unlocking for me with this. This testimony is going to be phenomenal!

Inviting You to Refocus Your Soul on Jesus, to Expand God’s Kingdom & Find His Blessings, ❤ Renee

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