Tonight was worship night at our church, Wilmot Centre Missionary Church. It was called ‘Restoration’. I went, tired. Not only physically. But that deep fatigue that comes with the ‘stuff of life’, so I wasn’t feeling particularly ‘bouncy’ and chipper. And I didn’t feel obligated to wear a perma-grin to prove my Christianity.
I was at peace, but needed a time of refreshing, to refuel. I love music and I love people. So to be in an audience and worship through music was just what I needed.
Our worship nights are pretty informal. We stand. We sit. We raise our hands. Or don’t. We move around. (A few of us are bouncy… and dance a little… but not quite like King David. We’re not that undignified…. yet.) But those things aren’t important.
What matters is the presence of God. Just to be in His presence with fellow believers and feel Him. Hear Him. Know Him. It is a wonderful thing.
As I sat there, just soaking up the sweetness of the Spirit of God, the words of Jesus went through my mind, “Come unto me ALL you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Such sweet words from a kind man, who suffered so much for me, for my freedom. I indulged in the thought. Jesus wants to bring hope, refreshing, and rest into my life. But the more I thought on it, the more the word ‘all’ stood out. I thought of how tired I was. And then I thought of how tired others must be.
I thought of other victims and the battles they fight. They’re tired. And I wish them rest from the burden of pain, trauma and horrific memories. I could hear Jesus, with open arms giving that gentle invitation to them, “Come unto me… Come… I will give you rest.”
I thought of the men and women who, like my dad, are trapped in the dreadful cycle of violence, abuse, molestation and various addictions. And I heard Jesus speak to my heart. “I love them too. They are weary. They carry a heavy burden. And I will carry their burden too. I died for that burden, for their addiction.”
I recall my father’s grief, several years before he passed away, when he asked me to forgive him for the pain, the trauma and the destruction he brought into my life. I knew that day that I would rather be the victimized one than the perpetrator. The weight of having molested a child is a burden I never want to carry. Never will. The burden of wrong childhood choices was hard enough.
As I thought of them, all those countless souls who carry that horrific burden of having sexually abused an innocent child, my heart felt compassion. And out of that compassion I wished them repentance, forgiveness and rest. For Jesus to take their burden and set them free. And I could hear Him say, “Come unto me… I will give you rest.”
I thought of the preachers who have turned a blind eye. They know. Many of them. Still, for so many reasons, none of which are justifiable, they turn away. Something in my heart screams. I picture that little girl, as the light in her eye fades into sexual confusion. I see the little boy crying, or numb, as the life slowly drains from his soul. I see them, and my heart breaks in a thousand pieces. And I see that preacher, turning the other way…. or worse, committing the act…. and I can hardly contain that thing that rises up in me. I want to run to the children, protect them, save them. And I really want to shake up those leaders. I want to plead with them through shameless tears… begging like a mad woman for them to see what happens to the children…
And I hear Jesus whisper, “I died for them too. I love them, just the way I love you. Yes, children have a special place in my heart. Every time they turn a blind eye, my heart is pierced, and I feel that nail go through my hands, and the blood… oh how it sprays… it spills on them… And my heart still cries out ‘Abba Father… Forgive them, for they know not what they do’. But I never stop loving them.”
And I see Jesus, holding out His arms in invitation to the preachers. He invites them, “Come…. come unto me. You are weary. I will give you rest.”
The more I thought about this, the more I felt the heartbeat of God, pulsing through me. His desire to heal the wounded victims. His desire to set the pedaphile free from addictions, so the children will no longer suffer at their hands. His passion for preachers and leaders to get a revelation of His heart for children, His desire for them to protect, the way true men of God protect.
Maybe you are the child who was wounded through incest, molestation or other abuse. Maybe you grew up and became the offender, for whatever reason. Maybe you are the preacher. And maybe, just maybe, you are all three–the child who was hurt, and grew up to be a preacher who molested children.
Whoever you are, whatever you have done, whoever you have become, Jesus invites you to ‘Come’. He offers to release you from the burdens you carry.
As a victim this can be a difficult message to speak, or receive. Having suffered so much abuse and violence in childhood, I have fought battles until my soul was bloody and gasping for air. I have hated. I have wanted revenge. But I have learned to forgive. Over, and over, and over again. And with that forgiveness I saw my father become a free man again, before God.
Because of the grace I witnessed in my father, I developed compassion for perpetrators, and wish for them to find freedom. And it is that same compassion that makes me cry out to God on behalf of leaders who turn a blind eye, that they will get a revelation of God’s heart for children. That they would become men of honour, and fill their God-given call to protect the innocent.
Regardless your story, your need, hear the words of Jesus:
“Come unto me, ALL you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… Come.. ” ~ JESUS ~
© Trudy Metzger
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Yes! Oh, yes! The arms of Jesus are open wide for everyone to come running, running. Behind the misery, behind the addictions are hearts so full of pain and hurt, and many don’t believe anyone could love them, for they do not love themselves, and so they continue the vicious cycle. Shine the light! Believe! The power of the Gospel! Thanks for sharing.
Sadly, the only way to get perps away from hurting children is to place them in a cell where they have no access. The only way for a perp to be anywheres near safe around children is to hear them say “I can never be around chidren again”….
Death bed confessions are good, but I’ve seen one then seen that one rise back to health only to find he hurt many more…..
Karen, thank you for your comment. I agree that those who have victimized children always need to stay accountable and know that they should never be alone with children again. I would never dispute that. My father’s confession wasn’t a death bed confession, but even after it I would never have left him alone with my children. He never had access to my children in all his living years, and I have no regrets about that. And because of what I suffered as a child, very few people had access.
Meanwhile one of my perpetrators fosters children… And I know he was reported by, I believe, two of his victims. The reality is there are many perpetrators all around, many (or most) being unknown to us. We need to teach our children well, and protect them. It’s our responsibility, and it is unfortunate that it is so. Still, if I had to choose whom I would have in my life, it is the perpetrator who has confessed. It won’t ‘fix’ the struggle for them to confess, but at least there is ownership and accountability, and I can work with them to make my children safe.
Regardless of these human dynamics, which we are wise to manage well, I know that there is forgiveness for them to. There has to be, or Jesus is not who He said He is, and God is not God.
..and how do you deal with the ones that told you after they abused you.. “i’m sorry, i’ll never do it again” and they keep on..eventually “i’m sorry” holds no meaning..and you had to listen to them week after week preaching, sharing, teaching sunday school…and when church was over you were there “snack”?? yeah, I don’t know..mabey forgivness is possible mabey its not..
Mea, I’m truly sorry… This is why talking about this topic is so hard… I know it opens wounds and anger for victims. It did that for me for years, and it is a battle I will probably fight for life. What I know is that I want the truth–the whole truth–even when it doesn’t line up with my feelings. And I agree that ‘I’m sorry’ gets pretty old when the abuse continues. I don’t profess to fully understand forgiveness, nor do I know what God does with that, besides that your pain breaks His heart. I saw my father go through that cycle in the violence, more so than the sexual abuse. (I cannot say it didn’t happen there too, but I don’t know for sure.) All I know for sure is that forgiving set me free, and coming to terms with the perpetrator’s need for forgiveness–not access to kids, but forgiveness–and accountability, transformed the person I am. I am more bold, and stronger than I’ve ever been, and yet my heart is more tender, and softer than it has ever been. That change in me is testimony to a truth I don’t understand, but accept because Jesus said it.
I am grateful that you have heart that is willing to share the difficult truths.
Within the last ten years I had a dream that I was on my bed in my bedroom. My grandfather came in a door and was moving towards my bed… I was frozen in fear. When he made it to the foot of my bed… I simply said, “I forgive you”… the wind rushed into the room, the curtains blew and he was gone.
Why does this matter? Because he died when I was in the 8th grade, I am now 40yrs old with 4 children of my own. I carried it with me that long. And to top it all off… my Aunt (whom he also molested) told me that on his deathbed, he confessed that he still wanted to molest little girls.
The difficult truth is that in spite of his lack of remorse… my healing did not begin… until I released forgiveness.
I wanted you to be encouraged to continue to share the difficult truths… you are spot on… and you bless me!