Chapter Fourteen: The Transition

“I shall be intentional in my attempts to remain in Rest. And trust my King to handle the rest. “…let us draw near with confidence to the throne of Grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need…” Hebrews 4:16″  Just read this quote this morning by Kathy Wilson and I echo it in my daily walk.  Finding His rest in the times of our lives when we are in the valley of despair is not an easy walk.  But in the process of entering His presence we find just a touch of what it will mean to see Him face to face.  His love floods our souls and nothing else seems to matter.  Enjoy the next chapter of my climb out of the box!!

At first I was bitter.  Now I was not only without a husband but Jason and Heather were out of the house and my church family was gone.  Thoughts of the story of Job in the bible came to mind.  I was in a state of shock and didn’t know what to do with myself.  It was a dark time for me.   My mind wasn’t focused on the Lord.  I couldn’t begin to listen to anything that remotely reminded me of church.  Whereas once I was so dogmatic and strict about my spiritual life, now the pendulum swung to the other side and I was bitter and sarcastic about going to church.  I wasn’t sure yet how that affected my walk with God.   I knew I still loved Him. But I scoffed at any Christian teaching that I came across or that anyone tried to share with me.  I hated “church people”, because I felt they were judging me and I had even heard that many had gossiped about me being “backslidden” in the ways of the world.   If I would run into them inevitably I would be asked where I went to church.  I became rebellious in my answers.  My favorite one was, “I don’t go to church.  They eat people alive in there”.   Or in more tolerant times it was, “Why is it you ask me where I go to church and not how my walk with the Lord is”?

I didn’t care anymore and was trying to find the new me, without religion.  The trouble was I still had some old residue of legalism hanging on and thought if I didn’t get back in church I was going to hell.  So I went through the motions of trying to find a church I could fit into.  For months I went from one church to another and though I couldn’t find anything wrong with the services, about half way through the service, a shroud of depression descended on me so heavy to the point that I  barely could make my way out of the building.  It didn’t matter which church I was in the feeling was the same.  It was baffling to me.   The thing I had once loved and  was everything to me I now hated.  I would spend the rest of the day after attending a service just sitting and staring out the window feeling utter dejection.  I could clearly identify with David in the book of Psalms when he was feeling so dejected and abandoned. 

Finally, after much soul searching for a reason why I couldn’t go to a church of any denomination without anguish God brought me to a place of realizing  that I was suffering from spiritual abuse.  It was an insidious attack on my spirit that was every bit as damaging to me as the sexual abuse I had suffered as a child.  It was no light matter.

Spiritual abuse is defined as  “When a person in religious authority or a person with a unique spiritual practice mislead and maltreat another person in the name of God or church…….Spiritual abuse often refers to an abuser using spiritual or religious rank in taking advantage of the victim’s spirituality (mentality and passion on spiritual matters) by putting the victim in a state of unquestioning obedience to an abusive authority.”

I had been so hurt by spiritual authorities.  I had worked diligently to gain their approval and most of them, I have to say, saw me as a competitor rather than someone to take under their wing.   The same way my soul and body were abused from being a victim of sexual abuse, my spirit had suffered in much the same way, only this time from being abused by those in authority in church institutions.   At that point I needed healing and there was no way I could go back to the organized setting while in that state of mind anymore than I could go back to my perpetrator in sexual abuse.  I needed a season to heal.  God had been showing me that in my insistence to push myself back into a building.  I couldn’t worry anymore about what people may think.

But, where did Jesus fit into all of this?  What did He want for me now?  Was He finished with me?  I thought so.  Little did I know that all of my life’s experiences were leading me to where I am today.  All of the mistakes, pain, loss and destruction was going to be used by Him to fit me into the plan He had for me from before I was even born.  Up to this time I had only known Christianity to be a set of doctrines, rules and rituals.  Jesus had came and died to open up access between His Father and me.  Religion in my life had supplanted that, distracting me with discipline, commitment, and hard work that never yielded the fruit it promised.

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Mark 7:6-7)

These words are as true for us today as when Jesus spoke them to the religious captives in His earthly ministry.  There are so many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who do belong to church denominations and I love them dearly.  Their gatherings are seemingly meeting their needs for spiritual growth.  However, I also know so many who are still trying to do their duty by going to church on Sundays but complain that it just doesn’t seem enough for them.  They are missing out on true relationship.  It is hard to make the transition and to find confidence that He will lead us to the right places for fellowship.  He will take care of us.

Next Chapter: “Jesus, Are You There?”

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8 thoughts on “Chapter Fourteen: The Transition

  1. Dixie,
    You are so right that something is terribly wrong when people come home from “church” feeling hungry and condemned. I also realize that people can go to a place of wonderful fellowship and leave feeling empty because they were not willing to open their heart to Jesus, or anyone else. I was going to say that if we are looking we can find Jesus anywhere, but that is wrong because there are places that Jesus will not go, except to pull us out. As there are places we should not go. I am so looking forward to bible study starting and am thankful for all that Jesus has brought you through to be who you are now.

    Cindy

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    • He never leaves us or forsakes us does He Cindy…even when we sometimes feel He is so far away. The old saying that “when God seems far away, guess who moved?” is so true ….He never moves… He is where we are…of that be in a building or under a tree, there He is in our midst………it is all about authentic relationship….looking forward to our connection soon in study as well!!!! Love you much!!!

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  2. Thanks so much for your insights here Dixie. I am amazed that God is taking so many people out of the manmade structures; he leads us through his own deprogramming and we feel as if we are in a spiritual desert and sometimes far from him. We feel confused and disorientated. But we know he is there somewhere in the background, somehow we know it.
    It takes years for the Father to deprogram us and we wonder why – even at times fearing for our own sanity. We have to manoeuvre through the judgements of the groups we were once a part of, being angry with them for their cultic arrogance and their inability to see that God is never found trapped in the boxes they have made for him. We find it hard to love and forgive, as arrogance is written all over their faces. But we do forgive eventually, we know we have to.
    Gradually they forget about us – and we reach the outer reaches of our deserts – with joy we see that all the while, the Father has been leading us to the beautiful mountains, the streams and the waterfalls. We see that this new place is teeming with life! We are left with genuine relationship and a deep understanding that we are loved and we belong. This realisation dawns gradually, and has nothing to do with membership of a group, but knowing so deeply that we belong to a new kingdom and that we are as much a part of that kingdom as Jesus himself.
    We begin to realise that church is within us, in our amazing adventures – in our chance meetings with others, we see the mark of the divine. We see with great joy that Jesus himself is ordering these encounters and that he is so proud of having as as representatives of a new way. Miracles begin to happen all around, and we don’t get involved with the glory of it all – we tell people to “go tell no one.”
    A new day has dawned – we have emerged from the desert of being de-programmed as joyful beings with excitement brimming over.Thank you Jesus for putting us through all you have in order to lead us to a new place.
    Love – Charles, Cape Town, South Africa.

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    • Charles….and thanks to you for sharing. Because we know Him it is always easy to trust Him in our forgiving. We learn to not judge others in their judgment of us. They are where we once were and the Lord is working in their lives as well. It is all about learning to lived loved in His kingdom and He is always faithful to bring those across our path to share His life with. I have found that those religious folks just fade away and God brings those into our lives that are hungry for the freedom they see us walking in. Thanks so much for reading and sharing my blog with others and for sharing your heart. Blessings!!!!

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  3. “most of them, I have to say, saw me as a competitor”
    I have so been there and am there. I don’t suffer much, though, as I can see what is going on, understand my calling, and for now, feel it is a time for waiting. Still hurts.
    I do hate what this does to those in my care, as it spills over onto them and am not sure how to address it. Cannot change churches…
    This insight you provide calls my attention to facets I have not considered before and adds much to my power of endurance. 😉
    Thanks!

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    • Wow…so glad this reaches your heart…it seems the people whose motives are to be seen find it hard to accept those whose ministries cross theirs. So sad, because we are all working for the same goal and that is to reach others for Jesus!!

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