A Survivor Lives Here

Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.” (2 Kings 19:30-31)

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I attached the purple ribbon to my mailbox as a reminder to myself:

A survivor lives here.

It feels slightly self-indulgent, putting the focus on me. A season ago, I displayed these ribbons in honor of loved ones who journeyed the cancer road, but this year I boldly make this declaration on my behalf because I’m taking my own advice … practicing what I so bravely proclaim.

Being a survivor isn’t about defeating the disease. Being a survivor is about defeating the silence that often attaches itself to the disease.

For me, this has become a rallying cry of sorts. I emphasized it again yesterday during the morning messages at Saint Luke’s annual Relay for Life service. It’s one of the main reasons I agreed to speak. You see, there’s a silence that has been settling in on my spirit for the past several months.

Sometimes, silence is a good thing, a golden kind of thing. I remember my 9th grade English teacher writing in my yearbook, “If silence is golden, Elaine, you can forget it!” I also remember my daddy telling me, “Elaine, not every thought you’re thinking needs to be verbalized.” I knew what they meant. In hindsight, I celebrate their words, because I fully understand the intent behind them. They represent life—a living, breathing witness of a young girl who wasn’t afraid to be heard and to err on the side of verbal expression. It’s been a delicate dance these past forty-seven years, learning when to speak and when to keep silent.

But what about those times when silence isn’t golden, when words should be spoken but, instead, remain buried, hidden beneath layers of self-doubt? Prolonged silence can become a breeding ground for destructive behaviors rather than a resting place for instructive growth. I recognize these dangers, and so I made a choice to use my words on Sunday morning and on this Monday morning. Not just any words, but words that have been bathed in grace and baptized in prayers for God to use them, once more, to move the kingdom forward. To move my heart forward.

Maybe today you’re stuck in your silence. A soul-eating something has taken its toll on your witness. Your voice no longer boasts the confidence of your sacred endowment. No purple bows tied to the mailbox. No holy proclamations tied to your lips. Instead, drop-dead silence. You’re at a loss for words, and your survivorship seems in question.

I hear you. Your silence couldn’t be clearer.

Today is the day to start talking again, start putting words to your struggle, thereby putting words to your faith. Pick up the phone, pick up the pen, pick up a friend, and pick up a bow. Tie it on the mailbox, tie it on your computer, tie it on your lips, or tie it on your heart. Let the whole world know that …

A survivor lives here.

A soul-survivor. A woman, a man living each day with the Soul-Creator, Soul-Stirrer, Soul-Lover, Soul-Keeper … Jesus Christ.

Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above.”

Today might be the beginning of your once more. Break the silence within and watch your roots grow deeper into the soil of God’s kingdom garden. Our Father will not waste your witness. Our Father intends to cultivate it for his glory and his renown. Your survivorship is not in question. Your survivorship remains safe and is certain in his hands.

Keep to it, soul-survivors. Our best days are in front of us. As always …

Peace for the journey,

22 Responses to A Survivor Lives Here

  1. Elaine, you might not know this side of heaven how much your words spoke to my heart this morning. I am in a season of dismay – and I have felt silenced by the weight of heavy situations. How I long for those days when I felt the *zeal* of the Lord as I bounced along.

    But, though I am in a darker place, the Light has never been brighter in my heart. May He show me the way to use my tongue to speak HIS words again.

    GOD BLESS!

    • Something else I told the congregation yesterday morning, Sharon … “I might not always like the person I see in the mirror, but I love the Person who lives in my heart.” Oh, how I love Jesus, and how I long for the days when I, too, felt the encouragement and strength of the Lord as I bounced along. Thank you for joining me in heart and spirit today.

  2. You are such an encourager Elaine! And today I, selfishly it seems, needed the encouragement. Too many days of giving in to the pressures of just living. Wanting to be a finisher and not a quitter. Thank you for always being here!

    Love you so much my Faith-ful friend!!

    • Take this encouragement, Marilyn. Make it your own. This is how we survive this life – in community and with the generous exchanges of grace. Love you.

  3. Soul survivors, every one of us!! No one goes through this journey without his or her scars from the battle. What a beautiful word Elaine… ‘once more’ we move forward from whatever it is. God wins these battles, and never have we needed to know that anymore than now.

    Love you!

    • I think it’s a word for all of us. In particular, I’m easily distracted by all the details of this life. The chaos in this world often robs me of God’s peace and fools me into thinking that I don’t have a “once more.” With God, there’s always a “once more.” Oh the marvelous grace of Jesus Christ! It reaches to my heart today and reminds me of my “once more.”

  4. Hi, Elaine. Your message makes my soul shout! Yes, what a survivor you are, and what an awesome voice you have for the kingdom. My heart was lifted as I read, and I celebrated with you.

    I recently began speaking again. I’m writing again, and I feel reborn in the process. Hopefully, I will soon have a new ministry address, but for now it’s the same.

    Though I’ve never been challenged by the mountainous road you have had to climb, I am one with you in being a survivor. I am just now coming out of a silent season, and I am yielding to my Father’s voice.

    Love,

    Andrea

    • This is awesome, friend! I’m so grateful for the work God is doing in your heart. May he grant you his strength and courage in the proclamation.

  5. Oh Elaine, how these words cut to my soul. I read these verses in my quiet time this morning before coming here from Psalms 9:

    9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a refuge in times of trouble.
    10 Those who know Your name trust in You
    because You have not abandoned
    those who seek You, Yahweh.
    11 Sing to the Lord, who dwells in Zion;
    proclaim His deeds among the nations.

    I have to get in the mindset of praising Him continually, even in my “season” of wanting to withdraw. No more silence. No more being buried in my oppression. I pray for us all Col 1:9&10-
    9 “For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.”

    Keep writing and talking my friend. These are healing words. Rejuvenating words. I am your patient and I continue to need them!! Thank you!!

    • I’m convinced that one of the enemy’s favorite weapons against us and our continuing influence for the kingdom of God is our silence. Often, just vocalizing our faith or singing a hymn out loud or reading scripture out loud are ways I walk my faith forward. It’s so important to practice our faith, even when the feelings aren’t there to motivate us. Keep talking, sister. I wish you were close by so we could grab a bite of lunch today.

      • I told my husband yesterday that I could really use some “Elaine time”!!! He said if we had the extra funds he would fly me to you but we don’t. I think we both could use some Olsen therapy. Put his dad on hospice a few weeks ago. It just doesn’t stop.

        Love you friend.

  6. Amen sweet friend! Worthy words and ones which resonate deeply. The enemy relishes our soul eating silences and all-too-quickly fills them with his lies. Before long, it’s hard to hear anything else. It takes courage to break the silence, but when we do, God’s His truth can begin to ever-so-slowly filter in and speak healing into our souls. Thank you for being an instrument of that Truth — a friend of the truest form. Love you much.

    • One faith-filled, spoken word at a time. This is how we will finish the race. Let us run, let us walk, let us crawl all the way home to Jesus!

  7. Thoughts to ponder. Where have I grown silent? What I believe is my passion should be my voice, after all, God promised to use my life experiences for the purpose of His kingdom. What is my passion?

    I am a survivor in two areas; one less and one greater. I am a survivor of cancer, this is less. I am a survivor who was doomed to eternal death but through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, He rescued me and this is greater!

    My passion? The greater. Christ called me and redeemed me and sees me so. Now I just need to see myself as He does . . .

    God, use my voice to bring hope to the hopeless and to the sisters in Christ who feel caught in the whirlpool of despair.

    Good writings today.

    • So many hearts overgrown with despair, Cyndi. So much silence. Despair often does that – silence our hope. How I pray that God would rescue me (step by step) from those feelings of despair, one faith-filled, spoken word at a time.

      I love all the ways you’re advancing the kingdom through your story! Keep to it.

  8. wifeforthejourney:

    How I wish all of your readers could have joined us at church to hear you verbalize your testimony. Silence can be a suffocating experience for the suffering heart. We should all seek after a life that is authentic, without being self-important. Like your dad says, all of us have a “story” to tell. Thank you for your encouragement this morning to examine our silence, as well as the intentions of our speaking. My the Lord lead us all to speak the truth in love.

    Love you,
    Billy

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