Ewersbach - May 15th, 2013
(Actual names have been changed)
What an amazing concert in such an amazing place! Ewersbach (pronounced 'aversbok' is a beautiful little German town with a 1,000 year old church. I couldn't help myself, but go up into the bell tower where the chimes called the faithful to pray at 11:00am every workday, and on Sundays to call people to church.
Rebecca came with a heavy heart, but a huge hope - having been encouraged by her friend Tina, who had heard us a few days before in Halle (pronounced "ha la", the birthplace of George Frederich Handel, who famously wrote "Handel's Messiah"!). Tina heard the message of Broken & Complete, and called Rebecca up straight away, and told her she MUST come to the concert in Ewersbach, as she would be hearing her own personal story told back to her in the person of 'Bill Drake'.
As the last song ended, I moved from the stage to the back of the church, with the audience still singing the refrain, "I'll Stand, with arms high and heart abandoned…" As people started to move down the aisle, and down, I realized that I had positioned myself as the Pastor would on a Sunday morning - that special "place" where you get to shake everyone's hand as they file out! And no one tried to squeak by - they all wanted to shake my hand!!! I shook every hand but one: Rebecca.
Ulli, my translator motioned for me to come over toward her, where she stood with a woman who looked like she might be afraid of her own shadow. As it turned out, she hadn't wanted to come, as she didn't like driving home in the dark, but she braved it anyway, feeling in her heart that the Holy Spirit wanted her there.
Ulli told me why Rebecca had come, and as Rebecca began to unfold her horrific story, my heart began to melt for this tortured woman. Abused and molested by a "Christain" father, it was a miracle that Rebecca had trusted Jesus, even though she admitted that she could not forgive her dad. I told her how sorry I was that this had happened to her, and that I knew a bit of the kind of pain that she was going through, and that Jesus not only does not want us to carry that, but will meet us in it, and conform us to His image.
I then shared with her that she would need to forgive her father in order to find freedom from the torment she admitted she was in. She answered that my saying that caused her to get all tense inside, and she was not comfortable.
I cried out to God in my heart - what could I say to help her? God led me to say that I was not going to ask her to do anything that she did not feel comfortable doing, but, rather in her own time with God, she would need to ask God to forgive her for not forgiving her own father - regardless of what he had done to her. Why? Because Jesus makes it clear that if we do not forgive, we set ourselves up for torment. (Matthew 6:15) To forgive is to release, and to abide in bitterness is to drink poison hoping that someone else will die.
Then I suggested that she take that before God, and ask Him to help her come out of agreement with anything that she may have been in agreement with that would hold her in bondage - like feeling worthless, unworthy of love, taking on the countenance of a victim, and harboring any resentment, etc. Not that anyone could blame her. But God demands a higher standard, but then again, He died to provide us that standard that we could not provide for ourselves. Christ meets us in our brokeness, substitutes His perfect brokeness, and then makes us complete by swapping His righteousness for our unrighteousness.
And therein is the supreme evil of abuse - whilst one is being abused, one most likely sins or comes into agreement with the enemy by having a natural reaction in one's heart that is contrary to the law of Christ - love your enemies, bless those who persecute you, call no one a fool, and forgive all things done to you.
Rebecca looked me straight in the eye with tears in hers, and let me know that she would take this before God, and ask for His help.
Friends, taking off the grave-clothes of "victimhood" by releasing your identity in relationship to the person who has hurt you, is possible by embracing one's identity in Christ. He has overcome, made you victorious over sin and abuse in Himself, and has put a new garment on you, and given you a new identity that is wrapped up in Him and His love, not someone else's warped view of you.
You see, we cannot fully embrace our identity in Christ if we do not forgive. As long as we do not forgive, we cling to the grave-clothes, and the perspective and identity that we are to be victims. But Christ does not see us that way when we are "in Him". If we hold on to our identity as victims, we are not in agreement with Christ, but rather with the cage the enemy has fashioned for us.
But Christ has fashioned a new identity for us, one we were designed and destined to embrace. This is the new man, the new creation, the bride of Christ, those abiding in the truth, those defined not by the base things of this world, but rather by the love, grace, forgiveness, and freedom of Christ. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32)