I have been hurt by churches – by people in churches. When I was married to an abusive husband and as I left that abusive man, the church failed me. And I walked away from church…
Not from God. Not God. I would never have survived the trauma I went through without my God. He filled me with the peace that no one can explain. He comforted me when no one and nothing else could. I survived because of Him and His bigger picture and how He orchestrated every little piece of yuck by turning it to good for my life and my daughter.
God never wanted the pain for me, but He was with me, and He used it and turned it to good.
So I did not turn my back on God.
But the church? The church I could do without.
Although… at times, I did miss it.
When I got through the immediate trauma, when a year had passed or so, when I could start to breathe again… I thought about church.
And when I thought about church, I got panic attacks. I cried and was covered in fear. The church is not safe, the enemy whispered.
And so, I didn’t go. Ever.
Well, I went twice to my best friend’s kids dedications. I stayed through their dedications then went to the car and cried and cried. Not safe. Not safe. Not safe. Danger. Run. Get away.
That’s it… for nine years.
And after nine years of being more “spiritual” than Christian, God is pulling me back in. He’s loving me. He’s changing me. He wants me. Jesus loves me. Jesus wants more for me.
God has always been there, tugging, asking for more from me. So I guess I should say after nine years, I’ve begun to respond again. Respond more intimately, more genuinely, more fervently.
I need Jesus. I want Jesus. I want the Holy Spirit to fill me with God’s power and love and strength and to guide me and be with my each day.
One of my realizations over the last month is – Bad things happen. They just do. They do whether I am walking with Jesus or not. They do whether I am praying or not. Bad things happen. Because we live in a world full of fallen people.
Bad things don’t happen because I follow Jesus. Bad things just happen. And I’d much rather have Jesus walking with me through it, than without.
So yesterday, I went to church.
First time in nine years.
I wanted to go. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be there for Jesus. I wanted to take a step of faith.
With my best friend and a new friend by my side, we entered church, and I wanted to run. Not safe. You’re not safe here, the whispers continued.
I looked towards the door. I looked around at the people in the lobby. I stood between my friends because if some random person had come up and placed a hand on my shoulder for whatever reason I would have either hit them or run, just from the anxiety and fear building inside of me.
The church service started and I started praying. I’m here for you, Jesus. I’m here for you, Jesus. Not the people. Not the pastors. Not the staff. I’m here for you, Jesus.
Through the first two songs, I just prayed and kept my eyes on Jesus. I asked Him to play a song I knew, so that I could sing because I was unable to focus on a new song in the state I was in.
The third song began, and although it was a song I did not know, I could feel Jesus. I promise you, I could feel Him. He was with me. He was calming my heart. He was filling me up! I raised my hands to praise Him and while the church worship team was singing a song I had never heard of, Jesus began playing a song in my mind. A song I know and love.
It’s called Break Every Chain and I will post it below. I’d been praying that God would break chains from myself and my daughter. And as that song played in my head – the one line – I hear the chains falling… (the worship team is singing one song and I’m singing another in my head)… the chains fell. They fell off of me. I could feel myself breaking free. I could “see” them laying around me on the ground. The chains of anxiety and panic over church were broken off and I was free.
Are you ready for something amazing? At the end of that song, my best friend reaches over to me and says, “Christy! There is FREEDOM in this church right now!!” and my other friend says, “I feel it! I feel it, too! There is freedom!!”
Now I’m crying, friends. At that moment, I can’t even tell them it’s MY freedom! Those were my chains falling off and I was breaking free!
But if ever there was confirmation, that was it.
From that moment through the rest of the service, I was new. I sang songs I didn’t know with my whole heart. I praised Jesus. I listened to every word that was said. There was no longer fear or anxiety. It was me and Jesus and I was safe and I was free.
Friends, God is so good. So Good.
I pray that you will keep seeking, keep asking, keep knocking for your own revivals. Your chains to fall. Your freedom to come.
There is so much more for me, I know this is only the beginning. But what an amazing beginning it is.
Happy Monday, my sweet, sweet friends.