Welcome to Chapter 3 of Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil. Please note Bettie and Anna are taking a ten day break from Arise and Shine, as Anna follows the Lord’s prompting to publish Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil.
As I began to turn away from God, my Mum noticed a change in me. She didn’t know what lay at the root, but she could see my confidence waning more and more and began praying with her best friend for God to restore my confidence.
Through my teenage years, I changed from an exuberant, outgoing child, into a child who began to hide out in books and in fear and shame. Interestingly, even the books I began to read, by Catherine Cookson, were full of characters who lived in fear and shame. Cookson recorded the fictional stories of women who had been sexually and physically abused in graphic detail. I empathized deeply with each of these women’s plights.
I now know why. I saw myself in them. Although I do not know the horror of sexual or physical abuse, I do know the horror of spiritual abuse. The enemy’s whispers of deceit were sent to steal, kill and destroy the unique Voice and beauty of Christ in me.
His doctrines and accusations straightjacketed me in a worship of self and man, suffocating the breath of God in me. But little did my accuser realize that all he was doing was ultimately causing me to die to myself and man, that I might be born again in Christ, revealing the power of His holy breath in me.
That holy breath is now claiming ownership of my body. Christ is healing me from the trauma of that spiritual abuse, as I walk through Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This “disorder” is in fact a gift from God, for it’s trauma triggers are shaking me awake to the Living Truth inside of me to heal the division in my heart.
God is freeing me from man-made doctrines, the enemy’s accusations, sin and sin’s impact upon my body and the Body. For, “If one part [of the Body] suffers, all the parts suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26, ESV), which I believe means then that as God heals us individually, He is also healing His Body corporately.
The book Hebrews in the Bible tells us about our Great High Priest, Jesus, who (Hebrews 7:24-25, ESV): “holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
I now know, because of John 17, that Jesus prayed for me, even before I was born. He began interceding for me, even before the confession of faith that was birthed in me as a little four year-old in response to my Heavenly Father calling me unto Himself.
Because of that confession, “[I], who [was] dead in [my] trespasses and the uncircumcision of [my] flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven [me] all [my] trespasses. By canceling the record of debt that stood against [me] with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:13-15, ESV).
This meant that as I fell into sin and blindness as a teenager, my true life remained hidden in Christ. For, Christ stood in the gap for me in my sin, as He lay in agony on the Cross. He covered my every sin – past, present and future – in His blood and righteousness.
And, He set about to use what the enemy meant for evil for good. As I bowed before my idols and the enemy began to suffocate God’s Spirit breath in me, my Savior sent me out. Out into the world to sanctify me in the truth of His love for me and His Body, to make me One in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and He’s not done yet.
He is continuing to open my ears and eyes to the beauty of His Presence all around me: to recognize His breath of life in all those He sets before me: knitting me together with His beautiful Body, as He awakens each one of us to His never-ending love, His healing touch and His beautiful wholeness.
As He patiently labors in me – in you – in our loved ones, to lead us all to repentance, we each remain protected from the wrath of God we deserve. For, God the Father has heard His Son’s prayers at Gethsemene for us, just as He did for Peter, to make us all One in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
No, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward [us], not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV). Our and our loved ones’ bodies, stories and lives are not our own. They are part of God’s much bigger whole.
As 1 Corinthians 12:18 (KJV) puts it: But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. God guards our hearts. He does not allow His life in us, nor His irrevocable purpose for us to be extinguished. In fact, He uses the enemy’s attacks, our and others’ weakness to refine our character, topple our idols, slice through doctrines of man and set us where we can and will flourish in the part of the Body He has purposed us to be. There, we will bear abiding fruit and draw others to Christ, through the power of His Holy Spirit at work in us.
I now know God used my Prodigal journey to set me right in the center of His will for me and for His Body: into a precious family of His choosing on the other side of the world.
When I read children’s books set in the Netherlands and Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place as a little girl, little did I know that God would bring me together with a Dutch man who was born and raised in Tante Corrie’s home town, a town twenty minutes from here that we travel to almost every weekend to visit my in-laws.
Now, my unbelieving husband, our daughters and my sealed-by-the Spirit Prodigal in-laws are living evidence to me that God’s holy breath is in so many more places than my past religious, straight-jacketed thinking deemed:
1 Corinthians 7:14 (KJV) For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
Ephesians 5:22 (ESV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Ephesians 1:13 (ESV) In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
My LORD is sanctifying me through my husband and our children daily, just as He is sanctifying my husband through me daily and our children through us both daily. Of all people upon this earth, it is my children, my husband and my in-laws who have – in Christ’s holy anointing – led me to the most repentance.
God is giving us a precious picture of His beautiful echad – oneness – arising, as His Holy breath blows upon us, His children. And one day my loved ones will see that and tremble with me at God’s goodness to us as a family and to the Body as a whole.
I praise God for Christ’s intercession through my mother and her best friend. My Heavenly Father heard my mother’s and her best friend’s cries: for they were the very cries of His Son, Jesus, in them. The cries to restore my confidence – not in idols and doctrines suffocating His breath in me – but in the One true God, who is knitting us all together into His beautiful echad, in our setting apart unto His holy purpose.
For, Christ desires not for us to bow to each other to put up a false front of unity, as we adhere to the enemy’s doctrines that straightjacket us and suffocate God’s holy breath in us. No, He desires for each one of us to – go and bear fruit that abides – to brightly shine the unique part of His Body we have been purposed to be into this world. That we – and each member of Christ’s Body – may arise into that beautiful echad in His headship that He planned and purposed from the very beginning.
Zechariah 14:9 KJV And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil
Our Prodigal loved ones are sealed by the Holy Spirit unto eternity (Ephesians 1:13-14). That means they are the LORD’s – they are, even now, vital and purposed members of His Body. May the LORD guide us through His Spirit to pray for them according to His good and perfect will and not according to our flesh.
When my Mum prayed for my future husband through my early Prodigal years, she didn’t ask for God to gift me a believer. She asked God to give me a man who would love me for who I am. When she met my future husband and his family for the first time, she knew the LORD had answered her prayers.
And my Dad? He had great peace in his heart, as he gave me away in marriage to my unbelieving Dutchman. I now look back and feel the pride of my Heavenly Father in my earthly father’s eyes that day. Did I mention already that our Heavenly Papa loves to perfect His power in our weakness – through His perfect love?
As we read the Scripture below, aloud, what word or phrase lingers? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.
John 17 (ESV)
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”