Over Thanksgiving, our family traveled to visit one of our children and two of our grandchildren. We had a wonderful visit: Playing at the zoo and the beach, Hiking up a small mountain, and Preparing the Thanksgiving meal together. It was a time of creating memories and enjoying each others' company. I pray that you had similar opportunities over Thanksgiving; family is such a blessing!
We had one other amazing experience while away from home: We worshiped together at their church. Now, it's always delightful to worship with my pastor husband; we don't get the opportunity very often! But this service touched me deeply. The Bible was preached strongly and effectively. Praise music filled the air to begin the service. In particular, "No Longer Slaves" by David and Helser touched my heart. The lines from the song that brought tears to my eyes were, "I'm no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God."
You see, I was a slave to fear for much of my life. That happens when a child is raised in a home with an abusive parent. My fears blossomed, even after a divorce which freed me from physical abuse, because my remaining parent was severely depressed. She even attempted suicide when I was nine years old. It wasn't explained to me because all the adults thought I didn't know, but I did. And I spent the rest of my childhood fearing to do anything that would upset my mom because then she might kill herself, and I would have to go live with my dad.
This was totally unhealthy, as I'm sure you recognize. And since no one knew my fears, no one could reassure me. When my mom remarried, my fears eased but didn't disappear entirely. I went off to college, still deeply afraid to make waves of any kind. This no longer made any rational sense, but the patterns that we develop as children are hard to break.
I ended up dating and then marrying a controlling, arrogant man. It felt right to me because I was so afraid of making mistakes. He knew what was right, right? Well, as it turned out, not so much. He ended up sexually abusing at least one of our children. Thankfully, I didn't listen to my then-husband's counsel about keeping the secret in the family. I knew better. I reported him; he went to jail. We got divorced.
And still, I was afraid. My faith was growing, but my fear wasn't diminishing. I was afraid of being alone, afraid of changing things, afraid of making decisions that might upset someone else. Finally, I began to ask God to remove my fears. After all, His Word says "Fear not, for I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10).
And He did. As I turned my fears over to Him, asking Him to remove them from me forever, He did. I began to turn to God and pray instead of being afraid. In the past 12 years, God has freed me! I am no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God. When I heard those words in the song last Sunday, I recognized how fully true they are for me in this season of my life. God completely redeemed my life and my soul, bringing me to this life full of love and peace... and no fear. A life where I am serving Him with joy and thanksgiving.
Thank you, God, for this gift of redemption.