My name’s Amanda, and I am one of the RECESS Houston leaders. I went through RECESS last year, and the journey since then has been an incredible whirlwind of God moving and changing me in so many beautiful ways.
To give you a little bit of context about me, I came into RECESS following a really tough season of heartbreak, loss, rejection and pain. It was one of the most painful seasons my heart has ever known. I felt like I was in a maze of emotions. Most days, I was somewhere in between having walls up to God and carrying a desperation so heavy that it brought me to my knees.
I remember sitting in my first RECESS meeting and sensing all of my walls go up more forcefully and powerfully than they ever had. In the moment, I thought that was just a normal response to not knowing what to do with the pain. I now realize it was an attack from the enemy. Satan was so threatened by what I had just walked into and the promise of home and healing it held for me that he tempted me to hold on to the pain. He didn’t want me to let my walls down and let God (and people) in. He wanted me to wear pain as my own and to miss out on the new way of living Jesus had for me.
I don’t know if you can relate to having walls up to God, or to being in a season of desperation and pain, a season where everything feels like its being turned upside down, or maybe just a season where everything feels stagnant and monotonous – but in case you can, I wanted to share a word with you that has been on my heart the past few weeks to encourage you.
In so many conversations I’ve had recently, God keeps bringing me back to Isaiah 61:1-3, which says:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God 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 joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
We are about to step into a new season with RECESS, and God is doing something so new. I believe His new thing and the new way in this season will be unlike any way it has been in past seasons. But in the midst of this promised newness, what I’ve kept coming back to this summer, and I know others have, too, is this frustration of going back to old habits, or old pains, or old feelings of loneliness. Old bondage. The old garments.
Satan is threatened by our new season. He knows he can’t change what God has done in this last season or what God’s heart is for us in this new season. But he can try to convince us that the change we saw didn’t really happen or the change that we are walking into is not important. He can trick us into putting back on old garments. He doesn’t want us to walk confidently in this new place and boldly into a new season.
But here’s what I hear God saying! He is giving us a new garment of praise, as Isaiah 61 says, SPECIFICALLY for what’s ahead! It’s not appropriate to wear a winter coat in the middle of the summer – and some of us are carrying things that don’t fit this new season – or that maybe we’ve worn for way too long – and I think God wants to reveal what these old winter coats are and take them from us so that we can wear something that’s fit perfectly for this season.
This is a NEW season that’s coming up. A new garment of praise! He’s giving it to all of us right now, and we get to step into it and put it on. It’s filled with hope and newness and beauty, and it will be unlike any season we’ve been before. And He’s calling us to be fully in this season. To fully experience the new thing.
You might not know yet what it looks like to put on a new garment of praise, but that’s okay. God will be so sweet to show all of us what that looks like, one step at a time. Ashes for a crown of beauty. Oil of joy instead of mourning. A garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Open those mailboxes ladies, the new garment of praise is here, and it’s unlike anything we have seen yet. We are so excited for this new season, and we are so expectant of what God has planned for it.
Love you all dearly,