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Stolen Years

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Life.

Abundant life.

This is often marked within the world—the religious world, even—as prosperity and blessing. Many denominations preach that abundance is indicative of our status with God, that He has found favor with our actions . . . whether they be tithing, donating to charity, homeschooling, or ensuring that our left hand knows what our right is doing. Some believe that this life means we have found peace, that we can finally "relax" and enjoy the fruits of faithfulness. Others eschew this concept, believing that asceticism is the key to true holiness.

What is abundant life?
How many of us can truly say that we are hereby deeply refreshed?

I believe that we begin with our hearts genuinely in the right place—desiring to walk obediently to He who calls us by name. This desire sets our feet in motion and launches a quest for discovering what pleases our Lord. Sadly, it is all too easy to become swept away by the shackles of religion, becoming ensnared along the way.

"The thief," John says, "Comes to steal, kill and destroy."

This destruction is not unlike that of the swarming locusts, who can descend on a lush, ripe garden and in moments, strip away every tender leaf, each verdant tendril—leaving a brown, barren plot of earth in their wake. In a short instant, all of the careful nurture is gone to naught; months of planning and careful work, obliterated; a future of darkness and hunger looming with frightening reality.

Dear one, does this epitomize your heart? Do you feel stripped of the spring of life that should throb and course within? Do you feel as though your deepest feelings, hopes, dreams, and thoughts have been strangled by the crushing weight of bondage and oppression? Has your spirit become a dry wasteland and a lifeless wilderness? Does the hot, suffocating wind of annihilation steal away the refreshing gentle breeze of the breath of God?

I was born upon this path.

Many of you have written to ask for more of my personal story. Many of the particulars are included in my book, Quivering Daughters, which is still unfolding (hence any infrequency in blog posting—I am working diligently to get it wrapped up quickly!). However, today as we celebrate the resurrection of our Saviour, I am reminded just how miraculously He brought me back from death myself—rescuing me from the way of destruction and setting my feet upon the path of life. I praise Him with every breath for His grace and mercy!

The following is a portion of a letter I wrote recently.

My personal background was drenched in Scripture. I read and memorized the Bible on my own, daily, sometimes 2 or even 3 times a day—in addition to family Bible time. I am grateful for this, because the words are drilled into my core, which helps me now.

However, as I began to desire as an adult to truly grow and heal and question and wrestle with many of the things that occurred, experiencing loads of shame and guilt—not only hearing my father's voice while I read my Bible, but hearing his voice when others prayed, or seeing my mother's disapproving face, or hearing my own conscience speak to me in her voice—I became aware that this was very unhealthy enmeshment which I was desperate to overcome.

. . . The long-story-short version is that I stopped everything. I withdrew from society, from everyone really except for my husband and one or two trusted friends and mentors. I stopped reading my Bible. I know that this sounds blasphemous. However, I have discovered that when someone uses something inherently good—like the Bible—as a tool for abuse, it becomes essential to distance one's self from this and heal.

The truth is, I didn't want to view the Bible or God as abusive like I had been conditioned to believe; I still loved God with all my heart and knew that beneath it all, the god I thought I knew was not the true God . . . so for me, I had to in a sense, undergo a spiritual "de-tox". It is not unlike a de-programming regime for those who exit cultic groups.

During this time, which lasted nearly a year (some suggest that it can last usually up to 18 months), I determined that I wanted to decide what to believe for myself, and not because I was told that it was true (due to elements of religious abuse and mind control)—and was willing to let go of everything I had ever been taught. I still clung to Jesus and His work on the cross, for I knew deep within that He is the Way, Truth, and Life. Anything besides Him I shed off of me like a fur coat on a summer day.

This quest launched a journey that has literally changed my life. This has become the backdrop of my book, but let me fast-forward to say that as God healed me from my past, the hurts and religious abuse, the emotional wounds, everything—suddenly, honestly without me even trying, the Bible came alive to me again! I could read it freely, without pressure or hearing other voices in my head. I was understanding and seeing things I had never seen before, in light of God's transforming work in me. My Scriptural foundation proved to be a huge blessing because I was able to build upon it and not start from scratch. My biggest "rule" for myself was not to read it because I felt like I "had to". I chose not to listen to the accusing voice of false guilt if there was a day that went by and I didn't read it.

Slowly, a true relationship with God, based on my BEING and not DOING or TRYING began to blossom and I have truly fallen in love with Him in a way that is so personal and so far from "religion" that it saddens me to see so many oppressed by religious doings.

This journey also showed me God's nature—yes He is a jealous God, and judgment belongs to Him. However, for me, the key is balance. So many from fundamentalist backgrounds show a very imbalanced view of God. I had to re-learn everything; knowing His love was the hardest for me because as one of 11 children I could not understand how I could be loved in any special way that wasn't the same as everyone else. "God loves everyone" I would say and shrug like, so what?

If I were to suggest anything, I would recommend that you start simply with Jesus. He says, "No one comes to the Father except through Me." Start with Him—and He is the one who says, "Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11

If the god you serve does not fit this description—offering rest, who is gentle and humble, whose burdens are light—you are serving a false god who leads unto destruction. The enemy has come to kill, steal, and destroy—and how often does that truly describe how we feel? Is this life, that we truly live? "I have come that they may have life," Jesus said, "And that, more abundantly!"

It requires faith, certainly. But start with the Son of God, and let Him lead you to the Father.

This is what it means to have life, abundant—to live freely, knowing that God has accepted you and loves you as His child, created in His image, aside from the law and aside from the religious efforts that we put forth! Can you imagine life like this? To truly know what it is to be loved and accepted for who you are, not what you do? To be loved based on who you are, and not how well you perform? Or how "holy" you appear? To be wanted and desired, regardless of your mistakes and imperfections which torment you daily? To be able to lay aside every weight that hinders, to run with endurance knowing that your faith, even if it is a small as a tiny seed, pleases God?

Matthew 27:54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!”


I am humbled and in awe of the mercy, grace, and faithfulness of God who has brought me forth from the way of destruction and set my feet upon the path of life. It is here that I fall to my knees and say truly, this man is the Son of God!

Joel 2:25
“ So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.

It is here, in this place, that He has conquered death and restored the stolen years.

Our Lord has risen!
Glory to His Name!

3 comments:

  1. i relate with your comment about leaving the bible for a while. I needed to do that as well for about 5 years. Now I love the word. But the Lord helped me reprosess scripture without the abusive meanings. I also attended seminary to learn more and develop my thinking capacity.

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  2. It's only been recently that God has shown me a message that has defined my life. It goes like this: "I have to perfom to be acceptable." I didn't realize how much this lie had affected my heart until it started affecting my marriage. May the truth set us all free!

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  3. I really appreciate this post! I find with in the words that define and contain it's heart a core rather rich and deep.... a golden nugget ... this is what a girlfriend of mine calls such things :) I have seen this thief who comes to steal and destroy....
    He has haunted my own home, lingering the outskirts of our abode...we've sent the Pharisee packing...
    Jesus reigns here again, we are cleaning house :) shoring up, securing our hearts, your blog is confirmation in my mind that what we've walked away from... what we've battled ... was a real villain...
    thank you...
    looking forward to your book......

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