Update: Anabaptist Church’s ministry moves Bronx nurse to tears

Last evening Rich shared an update that left me in tears. It is so beautiful, the doors God opens, and how the care of His children gives the weary frontline workers a safe place:

***Quick report on today’s opportunities to deliver Subway/ DD/deli sandwiches, sodas, box of Joe (DD) and box of hot chocolate to the ER workers at Jacobi Medical Center. Our contact, the director of communications at Jacobi, asked us to meet her at the ambulatory entrance to the trauma center, so we pulled up there and offloaded our food and drinks, enough for about 60 people. Our friends Stan and Sharon from our church made these cool little cards with verses on one side and “If you need prayer” contact information on the back and we taped the cards on the sandwich wrappers. Sandy prayed with our hospital friend who received the food with gratefulness. She said that her father has just been admitted to the hospital this morning, and she talked about the stresses of this time at the hospital. She also took a small packet of masks that our friend Sharon had sewn and told Sandy that they could definitely use these masks for patients and other people who come to the ER.

Our friend Brendan from our church got the Subway sandwiches, so it was a neat team effort. Our daughter Bri was closing down the Eastchester Dunkin’ Donuts this afternoon because the owner (he has seven Dunkin’ Donuts) needs to consolidate his dwindling work force. So the owner told Bri to give the doughnuts and bagels to her parents to give to the hospital. Sandy returned that afternoon to DD to pick up those items and she spoke with a police officer in line. She had the opportunity to speak with that police officer and pray with him, and he recommended that she take the free doughnuts to the EMS station. Sandy thought to herself that this is what she loves to do, pray for people.  She took the doughnuts and bagels and headed off to where she thought was the local EMS station, but the GPS took her back to Jacobi. So there she was at the Jacobi Medical Center. Sandy sat in the car and prayed about what to do. She saw an ambulance pull up and decided to go up and offer the food to the paramedics. A male nurse came up behind her from getting out of his car and said “May I help you?” She said “I just came to encourage you today.” He lifted his glasses to look at her and told her “I had to step away from the madness for a little while and take a break.” The man started to cry and Sandy asked if she can pray for him. She stood there, praying for this big male nurse, with tears running down his cheeks. The man told her that he and his coworkers had just stepped outside earlier that afternoon and held hands and prayed, because there is so much stress. Here is this big guy, broken up and crying, telling her “I just had to step away from it for a while.”

Brianna has two coworkers who have each lost family members to COVID-19 in the past week. One of her co-workers lost her Grandpa, and they couldn’t even go to visit him while he was in the hospital. Another of her co-workers lost her Uncle. The co-worker who lost her Grandpa is now at home, sick.

Our friend up the block on Corsa Avenue is perhaps a few years older than us, and she has been hospitalized since Friday with COVID-19. Today they had to put her on the ventilator, which seems kind of like her health is headed in the wrong direction. Please pray for our friends and neighbors around here, and pray for us. The “news” out there gets more real when it is the news right here in our community.

Rich ***

Today they planned to serve the local EMS.

Again, if you would like to financially support the costs of this ministry,  the following email is the church’s PayPal: bjcgive@gmail.com

******

One medical professional, I am told by a friend, had to wrap over a dozen dead bodies in black plastic yesterday, March 31, 2020. Unless we are them, we cannot possibly imagine being responsible for that task. The strain of this, knowing that with each infected body they are exposing themselves to this virus, and with that exposure they risk infecting their families at home, is almost too much for some. Yet they press on, knowing they, too, could be that body. You don’t work that closely with death and not feel your own mortality. It is no small wonder that a medical professional would be reduced to tears when a kind strangers shows up to care and pray.

It is my hope that hearing these inspiring stories will give more believers the courage to be bold in love, practical service and prayer in this COVID-19 crisis. We live with pre-conceived notions about the people around us. A big tough nurse, on the outside, does not show us a tender soul on the inside, taxed to the endth degree by present circumstances. To be surrounded by thousands dead and dying in your city and hospital, as these healthcare professionals are in New York, would be most difficult. Not only is there sickness and death, there is the awareness that loved ones are being torn apart in their time of suffering.  That is a form of suffering all its own; one these healthcare providers are obligated to enforce. One we do well to be aware of, to pray for the healthcare providers, all frontline workers, the sick and dying, and to support those in our lives who are isolated in ways that wear down the mind and body.

I think of my brother fighting a hard battle with cancer. He has been courageous, as has his wife. We, as family, have tried to visit regularly — with some able to go more frequently than others — and cook for them. Now they are isolated, going through this battle without the physical presence of friends and loved ones. I hear her voice, the loneliness and heaviness of the journey, and ache for them.

These are difficult times for many. I am more introvert than extrovert — ambivert would be most accurate — and adjust easily to being home, or being alone, though I do miss friends from time to time, and especially miss seeing our children and grandchildren. For many this is depressing and lonely. For those in abuse situations, this is a terrifying time. As someone who grew up in violence, I remember well how times of stress and financial hardship escalated violence and death threats. For those spouses and children, this isolation is a most hellish thing.

In some way most of us, or all of us, have been impacted, in big or small ways, and for many this increases the risk of depression and suicide. As believers in Jesus, we have love and hope to offer, even if only by extending a listening ear.

For this reason the churches who insist on meeting, rather than allowing themselves to be ‘scattered to serve’, boggle my mind. Whatever the motive — whether to prove they can do their thing, or to keep the money rolling in, or whatever else might be their motives — it does nothing to convince the world of love. Absolutely nothing. It is selfish.

If we would all lay aside our temporary losses and call one another to love, prayer and kind deeds, would we not exemplify the love of Jesus beautifully? This is what drew me to the little Anabaptist church in NYC. They are heroes. They are human. They are not seeking to be noticed or idolized. (So please don’t). But they are living the love of Jesus well. They are preaching with their hands and their feet, and encouraging through prayer. They inspire me… make me ask, “What can I do to show His love?”

And amid the pressure of completing this term of university, I’m trying to find little ways of making a difference.  In the weeks and months ahead, we will have opportunity to serve our fellow mankind,  to rise up like we never have before, to carry the burden of the inevitable cost and consequences resulting from this tragic time. We need to prepare our hearts today for this call, and the doors God will open for us to take His love into the world around us.

To have one foot firmly planted in the present reality — so we can be present and supportive, and the other firmly rooted in eternity, with a heart invested in Jesus and people, this is my desire and my commitment.

My prayer for you, for me, for us today is quite simple, “Jesus, hold your children tonight. The lost ones. The found ones. The struggling ones. The secure ones. We invite you to be present in our stories, in every part. Help us, who know you, to be mindful of those in need around us… to lean in and listen to the fears around us and offer love and compassion… to hear the hearts that feel lost and alone, and offer encouragement. Help us to represent you well. Always. And in all ways. Thank you for loving us in our brokenness. Now, help us love others in their brokenness too. Amen.”

NOTE: If you have a good news story you would like me to share in the midst of the tragedy of COVID-19 , send it to my personal email. There will be no shortage or tragedy in coming days, and that tragedy needs to be acknowledged. But we also need to hear encouraging stories, and see humans coming together to support one another, and blessing those who are in the front lines.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

In Every Dark Place…

In every dark place, there is a Light. In every tragedy, Hope. In every trial, Victory… If only you will reach out to the One who redeems all things. Jesus.

This Light is, at times, hard to see. The hope, often, lies hidden behind the darkest of feelings, waiting for enough light to shine so it can burst through, like those first flowers in spring, fighting through the cold earth and snow, to offer a promise of new life ahead. And the victory is not always a glorious jump into the air, cheering loudly. Sometimes that victory is a mere cry for deeper faith to see the Light in that very dark place.

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Never give up. Jesus said He will always be with you–‘For lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world‘, reiterating what the Father said when He promised never to leave you or forsake you. When you have lost the courage to believe in any other thing, this one truth will simply exist, whether you believe it or not; you are never alone. And when you are too weak to believe it, I will believe for you.

Jesus. He is our Light, our Hope and our Victory!

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Blog By My Old Order Friend

I received a phone call from my Older Order friend, and the author of this blog, a few months ago, asking if she could read something to me. It came at a time when I felt completely drained spiritually, and exhausted emotionally, after receiving a lengthy letter in the mail, attacking me, and our ministry. As she read it, the tears spilled over. It was a most timely reminder that God does not forget us, or abandon us. He meets us in our broken place, and feeds, fills and restores us. She offered to send to to me via snail mail, and gave me permission to publish it on my blog, and use her name. If you find yourself in this place of struggle, a place of fatigue or discouragement, I pray that you will be as encouraged as I was, by Martha’s blog.  

I used to view God as a policeman, who sits around somewhere, waiting to find someone at fault… who comes after you with flashing lights. He hands over a ticket, which means, “I’ve been fined.”

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Instead, God draws us… invites us… Not with flashing lights, but with a glow that comes from the very Father heart of God. An invitation, if you will: “You may kneel in this pool of blood… It was shed for you. All your guilt, and shame and sin have been redeemed before you were ever born. And that pool of blood, instead of a ‘fine’ or a ‘ticket’, offers a receipt… a receipt that says, ‘ You’re free. I’ve paid for you!”

What a Saviour! We have reason to rejoice. We have reason to be alive!

When I think of Elijah, I think of third degree depression. He was discouraged…. “What’s the use. Nobody cares… I am all alone… what I do doesn’t mean anything….They seek to kill me, for doing what is right.”

What did he do? He ran for the juniper tree.  “I’m done! Just let me die!”

What did God do? \he met him there. He said, “Elijah, what are you doing here? The journey is too great for you. Arise and eat.”

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Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that amazing?

God called him by his name. God knew him.  He saw Elijah’s pain. Not only did He call him, he provided for him. He understood his pain, his depression, his hopelessness.

Rejoice! That God is still alive today. If you find yourself under the juniper tree, or heading that way, take heart, God meets us there.

We all know the story of the Good Samaritan. There was a man travelling to Jerusalem, when he was overtaken by robbers. They beat him and took all his goods.

Along came two men, a priest and a Levite. Exactly what their missions were, I cannot say. We get the picture that they were tending to important religious matters.  These religious men couldn’t be bothered by the likes of the injured man.

Along came the Good Samaritan. He had compassion and stopped to offer help. He took the injured man to a place of comfort and healing.

Where do we find ourselves in this scenario? So busy with religious duties that we pass by the hurting? Are we the ones beating and robbing, taking what isn’t ours–be it money, or reputation? Or are we the one with compassion?

Or, if we stop and take a closer look… Are we perchance the person lying there, wounded and bleeding, not able to walk without support??

If that is you, take heart. You are in a good position. Just as God met Elijah under the juniper tree, He will meet you. It is for this very reason that Jesus came. In Isaiah 61 we read that Jesus is coming to heal the broken-hearted, to give sight to the blind, and to free those who are bound, to bring good tidings.

Are those not good tidings?

~ Martha ~

New Hope: Abigail’s Story (Part 10)

These days, when I spend time with Abigail, she is not huddled on a couch, with her feet pulled up, eyes downcast, and unable to speak. I don’t have to draw every word out of her, through deep questioning, just to get somewhere. There are moments, but mostly it isn’t like that any more. Abigail has a sparkle in her eyes, much of the time, she laughs, and engages in conversation, and with people around her. It is so fun to watch Jesus set her free!

The other day Abigail spent some time with our family, in a group setting, and I saw a carefree joy in her that I had not seen before. I told Tim later that I see a little girl in her, just wanting to break free. With a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face, Tim told me that I had missed a moment when she ran and bounced into a chair, racing someone to get there first. “She has been suppressed for a very long time,” he added.

Abigail and I continue to meet, to work through her pain and her struggles, because the reality is that knowing Jesus does not end pain, or remove struggle. He strengthens us, loves us, and fights the battle for us, but in our humanity we rise and fall with that battle. From time to time she is placed in situations where she interacts with those who wounded her, and the raw memories trigger struggle, and in our sessions those encounters quickly show, and her spirit still takes the pain in quite easily, but one battle at a time she is learning to give it all to Jesus.

And, realistically, for Abigail the fight has only just begun. The enemy will use anything he can, and anyone whom he can, to try to make Abigail give up on her journey to knowing Jesus. He will try to destroy her faith, discourage her heart and convince her to throw in the towel.

Abigail will have to resist his tactics, and stand firm in Jesus Christ, to overcome, because attacks will still bring the temptation to return to old habits–to cut when she can’t feel or feels hopeless. But one victory at a time, a warrior will rise up in her, and she will help others.

Only a few days ago Abigail awoke in the middle of the night, tempted to find something with which to cut herself. In the dark of that night, she reached for the Bible I left with her–my big, fat ‘preacher sized’ Bible, with notes, underlines and scribbles–and clutched it to her chest. She reached for Jesus–the Word–instead of walking to the knife block, and staring at the temptation.

I am so blessed by Abigail, and thank God for bringing her into my life. In only a few short months she has disclosed deep pain, hurt and trauma. We’re still walking through the ongoing journey of freedom and forgiving people in her life, but she is free in Jesus, in spite of the struggle.

Abigail has given me permission to share her story here, in black and white, so that you will be challenged and encouraged. Few people have the courage to do that, while still in the ‘raw’ battle. Especially when people who know her might read her story, and judge or otherwise hurt her, should they recognize her story.

I am honoured to have shared with you, Abigail’s story. Thank you for allowing her pain to touch your heart, and her victory to cheer you on in your own journey. Your messages to me have been encouraging–some of which I have passed on to Abigail, to encourage her.

Please pray for Abigail. She wants desperately to follow and know Jesus intimately. She struggles from time to time, to hear His voice and know that it is Him, because other voices have ruled for so long. We are getting into the Word of God–the Bible–to learn how to identify the voice of God and the voice of the enemy, to know when it is truth, and when it is attack. She is learning that God’s voice speaks invitation, hope, salvation, purpose, love and deep conviction, but the voice of the enemy is one of condemnation, hopelessness, shame, defeat and oppression.

Pray for courage and strength, so that the attacks do not knock her down, and when she falls, that she will know the grace of God is more than enough.

Above all, I pray that Abigail’s story has stirred compassion in your heart for those struggling, and a passion to move beyond the typical ‘pat answers’ of religion, and take Jesus into the hearts of the hurting. I pray that, when touching hurting hearts, you will do it with the love of Jesus, and do so with a selfless heart, and words of life. Our words carry the power of life and death, and words that condemn and shame–something even Jesus did not come to do (John 3:17)–and they have the power to shut down a seeking heart, and discourage the struggling.

May God give you wisdom to reach out to others, without personal agenda, to bring Jesus to the world around, and to fellow believers who struggle. Because the death and resurrection of Jesus really is more than enough for each of us.

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Moment of Triumph: Abigail’s Story (Part 9)

WARNING: This post may contain graphic or disturbing content… If you struggle with cutting, or are sensitive to the graphic description of cutting, do not read this post. The intent is to create awareness in the body of Christ, of a struggle that is relatively common, and tragically hidden, because of fear of judgement. Healing comes when silence is broken.

 Sitting with Abigail in my car, seeing her deep bondage, and knowing her desperate desire to be free, I felt compelled to fight for her, even if it meant getting some backlash. Even if it meant taking on the enemy alone, where I would typically work with a team.

Her spirit was closed, lost. I had never done this before. I recalled she had shared a song that had comforted her some weeks earlier, in a moment of trauma, when she struggled to trust Jesus. The song was hot off the press, released only days earlier, as if it was written just for her, for that moment. I started the car and scrolled through my play list… Nothing is Wasted (by Jason Gray)… “It’s from the deepest wounds that beauty finds a place to bloom, and you will see… before the end… that every broken piece is gathered in the heart of Jesus, and what’s lost will be found again… Nothing is wasted, Nothing is wasted in the hands of our Redeemer, Nothing is wasted. Well, hope…. is more than you can bear and it’s too hard to bear and it’s too hard to believe… it could be true… and your strength fails you half way there… You can lead on me and I’ll believe for you… And in time you will believe it too… Nothing is wasted…” 

The words filled the car, singing hope over her. I watched as her spirit opened….

I explained that there is power in the name of Jesus, and we have authority to command the enemy to be silent. “Would it be okay if I did that? I promise it won’t be anything wonky, or loud or frightening. I will calmly and quietly tell him to leave.”

Abigail said I could, so I began to pray, and speak into the darkness…..

I spoke with gentle confidence, quietly and calmly commanding the enemy to leave, in the name of Jesus, to take his hands off of Abigail, to stop tormenting her mind with lies, and get out of my car. I asked God to protect Abigail and speak truth over her–I spoke His truth against the lies in her mind–and invited Jesus to be with us.

When I finished praying, we listened to worship music and, with time, I asked her, “What are the voices saying now?”

“One is getting quieter,” she said.

I cheered, quietly, and waited, as the worship music continued. At length I asked her if she was ready to pray. She said she was, so I explained how it would work, and that there would be no surprises. Knowing that she had not been able to pray much, if at all, for many years, I said I would lead her in prayer, and she could repeat it after me. I would pray only about the things we discussed, and I wouldn’t do anything strange, just a gentle prayer of confession, repentance and invitation, asking Jesus to take the place of those blades, and fill her life again.

In a previous session Abigail had told me she doesn’t believe that Jesus died for her. She believed He died for the world, but struggled to grasp that He did that for her. Unbelief in this area, from encounters I’ve had, is often comes from a feeling of worthlessness, brought on by negative life experience. But believing that Jesus died for me, personally, and you, personally, is the core of salvation, so I spoke into that  lie one more time.

“Do you believe in God?” I asked.

“Yes,” Abigail said.

“Do you believe Jesus is God’s son?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said again.

“Do you believe that Jesus died for you?” I asked.

“I believe He died for the world, but not for me,” she said.

“If you believe in God, and you believe in Jesus, then is the Word of God true?” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered.

“And if the Word of God says that Jesus died for you too, then is that true?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“Do you believe that Jesus died for you, Abigail?” I asked again.

“Yes,” she said.

Lies run deep, and the only way to overcome their power is by replacing them with truth. And if it takes a thousand times, then I am willing to ask the questions as often as it takes for the truth to pentrate.

I explained to Abigail that the prayer would be one of repentance, as well as asking Jesus to take the place of the blades, and giving God His rightful place in her heart in life. When she was ready, I began….

“Heavenly Father…. ” I said, then, after speaking only a sentence, I paused, waiting for her to repeat after me.

Silence. More silence. I peeked. Abigail’s big brown eyes were wide open, staring at me.

I smiled. Maybe she misunderstood…

“Can you pray and repeat after me?” I asked.

“Not to ‘Father’,” she said, matter-of-factly.

It was at that moment I realized what I had done, without even thinking to talk with her about God as her Heavenly Father. In Abigail’s mind, associating God with ‘father’, created an unsafe connection, immediately shutting her down, allowing fear, condemnation and oppression to overtake her.

“I’m sorry, Abigail,” I said, “I didn’t even think about it. I can lead you in prayer without addressing Him as Father, but if I leave it there, I do you a grave injustice.”

I took some time to tell Abigail about God, as Papa–our ‘Abba Father’–and explain that when our earthly fathers fail us, God is our protector. He is the one who carries us through the trauma of what is done to us. He is our shield, our warrior.

I took the ‘big picture’ approach, and showed her how God shows Himself as a ‘Warrior Father’ to His children, His people, throughout the entire Old Testament Story. If anyone messed with His children, God rose to their defence. When they wandered into captivity, He let them run themselves into some dark places, but always He fought for them, and offered redemption.

“You need Him, as your Heavenly Father, the Warrior who fights for you, Abigail,” I said. “To not take you there would be to rob you of His protection, and leave you vulnerable.” When we understand God as our protector, we learn to fall on Him, rather than fight our own battles. And if Abigail was to win this, it would not be on her own strength.

I asked Abigail if I could pray and ask Jesus to reveal the heart of the Father to her, to lead her to Him, to be the mediator and ask Him to reveal His incredible love and acceptance. Instead of asking her to address Him as Father, or falling back on intellectual acceptance, I would pray on her behalf, standing in the gap for her pain, and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work. She agreed, and I again started to pray.

Abigail prayed after me, speaking truth over the lies, repenting, confessing Jesus as her Saviour, and asking Him to fill her life again. It was a moment of victory, a moment of triumph.

I handed her my Bible. “You’re going to need this,” I told her. “Find places I’ve underlined, or just hold it when you’re struggling.” I assured her that God will continue to heal her and, with time, she will be able to read and understand the Word of God. I remember well how hard it was, to a time, and also know how much I love the Bible now.

In the wee hours of the morning, I hugged Abigail good night, after hours and hours of battle.

It was a night well spent, on the heels of an amazing retreat with the women from Milverton Mennonite Church. I should have been too exhausted to fight, having lost sleep in the days leading up to that night but, instead, I felt exhilarated and ‘alive’, doing exactly what God created me for–worshipping Him, and spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ that breaks chains of addiction, religion, sin, and every other bondage.

Abigail walked into the night, a smile on her face, and joy in her heart. I knew that she would be okay and, regardless of the battle ahead, she would make it through.

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The Struggle of Good & Evil: Abigail’s Story (Part 8)

WARNING: This post may contain graphic or disturbing content… If you struggle with cutting, or are sensitive to the graphic description of cutting, do not read this post. The intent is to create awareness in the body of Christ, of a struggle that is relatively common, and tragically hidden, because of fear of judgement. Healing comes when silence is broken.

As the worship music played, I prayed silently. I thought about the place the blades had in her heart, in her life. They way she relied on them to feel anything at all. If only God could awaken her heart, and restore her soul. Then she would be able to feel without needing to inflict pain on her body, physically.

What inspired me to say it, I don’t remember, but it was significant. “You know,” I said, “it’s a funny thing how many times a song will start playing that totally fits to what’s going on in my car, or what I’m talking about with people.” 

“Abigail,” I said, “would you be willing to ask Jesus to take the place of those blades? Will you surrender to Him”

No more had a spoken it, than the lyrics in Believer, by Kutless filled my car, “…When will you surrender to His grace….”

We both laughed. “See, what did I tell you?” I said. “It just happened again!”

The lyrics continues, “… He promises He’ll never leave you, to bring you freedom from the past, Cause that’s the sacrifice He’s made, He can be your shelter and your strength…”

“Will you ask Jesus to take the place of the blades?” I asked again.

She contemplated awhile.

“I want to, but I don’t know how,” she said.

“Just pray and ask Him,” I said.

“I don’t know how to pray,” she said.

“I’ll lead you in prayer,” I offered.

“If I do,” she finally said, “will it just be that much harder tomorrow? Will the battle be worse?”

“Is that what the enemy is telling you?” I asked, “that’s it’s just going to get worse?”

Abigail nodded.

“I can’t tell you that it won’t, Abigail,” I said, looking her in the eye, “I can’t promise that it won’t get worse. It might. But what I can tell you, is that Jesus will be enough. If the battle is harder, He will be with you, and He will be enough. That I can promise you.”

It is in those moments that I would wish to declare all kinds of promises, that the battle will end, or lesson, and that life will somehow get easier, but I can’t promise those things. Life is a battle, and sometimes it seems that the more trauma we experience, the harder our battle. How I wished at that moment that I could take her battle for her.

“Abigail, would it be okay if I did something I don’t usually do alone?” I asked.

Earlier, in the coffee shop when I asked her if it was her or the enemy smirking at me, I had told her that I wouldn’t take authority over the demonic, even if I could. This surprised her, as it seemed I was content to leave her suffering and oppressed.

“There’s a reason Jesus sent disciples out two by two, to cover each other spiritually,” I had explained. I went on to tell her that the heart must also be ready, or it simply creates more room for the enemy to come in, bringing yet more darkness into her life. I told her I would rather teach her who she is in Christ, and how much more power she has than the darkness, so that it cannot oppress her that way. I would rather equip her, than to ‘clean house’ and leave her vulnerable the next time, not equipped to fight off the enemy.

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Only moments after that statement, just as we started exploring the book of Galatians, and God’s message of freedom, she had retrieved the blades….

Abigail sat quietly, most of the time, holding the blade in her hand, and toying with it. She ran it across her skin, the sharpness teasing flesh, daring her–even inviting her–to go deep.

I saw it, but gave the enemy no power. It wasn’t what I was here to talk about. The timing of when she had seen the blades and snatched them just as we went to the Bible, was significant–clearly a battle between good and evil. It was obvious that the enemy wanted to distract me from the message Abigail needed, of hope in Jesus, and get me talking about blades, and begging her.

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I felt it, and made a conscious decision to not go there. This night was about freedom, truth, and Jesus. It was about Abigail’s freedom, not the enemy’s taunting. I wouldn’t entertain him by acknowledging his tactics…

…To be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

Return to: Abigail’s Story Part One

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

Return to First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

Held Captive by a Dark Force: Abigail’s Story (Part 7)

WARNING: This post may contain graphic or disturbing content… If you struggle with cutting, or are sensitive to the graphic description of cutting, do not read this post. The intent is to create awareness in the body of Christ, of a struggle that is relatively common, and tragically hidden, because of fear of judgement. Healing comes when silence is broken.

…As the seconds ticked by, I grew restless. We passed the four-minute mark… four and a half…

I stood to my feet, and walked to the cashier, a mature, friendly woman. “Excuse me, Ma’am,” I said, “I am concerned about the young woman in the bathroom. She’s not doing well, and I told her I would call 911 if she is not out in five minutes. Her time is pretty much up, and I am heading back to knock on the door, and see if she will respond.”

The cashier gave me a knowing look, as if she had already observed that something wasn’t right, and nodded. “I understand. If you need a key to the bathroom, let me know. I’ve got one and will give it to you.”

Would I really invade her privacy in the bathroom, if she didn’t respond? I processed that thought. There’s always the question of, how does one determine how seriously to take a moment like that? To disregard it, in the worst case scenario, would be to lose a life, or risk losing it…

“I’ll let you know if I need it,” I said,thanking her, and walked toward the bathroom. I made it half way back when Abigail stepped out. I took a deep breath. I had remained calm, but the inner tension had been there, more powerful than I had realized until the moment the stress lifted.

We seated ourselves in the corner, again, and the cashier brought us some glasses with water. She told us we could stay awhile, that they were not closing for quite some time. She looked at me, a question in her eyes, but never spoke a word. I smiled, nodded, and thanked her. She just wanted to know if we were going to be okay.

Moments like that, sitting there in relative silence, with the enemy feeling quite victorious, can make you feel pretty vulnerable.  Especially when, only days earlier, it felt like such amazing breakthrough. Every now and then, when I pictured her going home with the blades, my heart would shrink back, and the mild sick feeling would wash over me.

Abigail just sat there, looking at me, the defiant smirk never leaving her face. It was almost chilling, the change that had come over her when she held the blades in her hands. Almost as if she felt stronger, more confident and more powerful. As if they held some secret power.

“Is that you smirking at me, or is that the enemy?” I asked her. The words formed, almost before I consciously processed them. I was suddenly aware that the battle had moved to a whole new level.

“I don’t know,” Abigail said.

If I spoke much at all, I don’t remember it. The shock of seeing her reclaim the blades wiped parts of that night from my memory, and only the memory of grief lingers powerfully, and that feeling of freezing to death.

“It’s cold in here… I’m freezing,” I said. “Could we go sit in my car? I need to warm up.” I had not removed my coat, still, I shivered.

“Sure, I don’t care,” she said. With that we packed up and moved to my car.

My car holds no secret powers, but it has become somewhat of a haven, a sanctuary, where sacred moments happen. It’s my little ‘church on wheels’, where I sit with broken-hearted women and girls, and lead them to the heart of God, and tell them about the love of Jesus. And in my car I have access to a spiritual weapon that I knew we needed in that moment.

If we were to experience any breakthrough at all that night, it would have to be away from the activity of the coffee shop, in a place with less distractions, where truth would speak into the darkness.

We jumped into my car, and I cranked the heat. First things first.

I connected my iPhone to the radio, to play worship music. “What’s your favourite song right now?” I asked. She looked at me, saying nothing. I couldn’t tell if the enemy had silenced her, or if she was unsure. Then I remembered her dream.

I did a search on Google, chose the song, and the lyrics started to play…

 

The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

It’s from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what’s lost will be found again

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine
Glory will shine

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Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

[x2]From the ruins
From the ashes
Beauty will rise
From the wreckage
From the darkness
Glory will shine
Glory will shine

(Nothing is Wasted, Jason Gray)

I spoke truth over her, in agreement with the song. When it ended, I went to my iTunes list, and chose an appropriate playlist. Worship, I have learned, is one of the most powerful weapons against darkness.

I watched as her spirit softened. But behind the pain, and the desire in her eyes, lurked a dark force. I saw it. I felt it. It almost seemed as though she could see the light, but that force held her captive.

And that force would need to leave for breakthrough to take place….

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…To be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

Return to: Abigail’s Story Part One

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Under Attack: Abigail’s Story (Part 6)

WARNING: This post contains graphic content… If you struggle with cutting, or are sensitive to the graphic description of cutting, do not read this post. The intent is to create awareness in the body of Christ, of a struggle that is relatively common, and tragically hidden, because of fear of judgement. Healing comes when silence is broken.

It was late the following Saturday evening, just a few days after Abigail sent me those texts, saying she wanted her blades back, when I met her for the extra session.

I saw her sitting across the room, in the coffee shop, and it struck me, how good she looked. How much brighter her eyes had become since we met, and how there was even a glimmer of hope, where only darkness had been, previously.

I’m not naive. The battle is still real, and Abigail has a fight ahead of her, but I will celebrate every little positive sign, and every victory, no matter how insignificant it may seem to some. And I told her so.

The light in her eyes was only one of a few things I noticed that night. Her smile was a bit brighter than it had been when we first met, with a bit more real emotion behind it.

When I asked her if she feels more free than she did, she said yes, but added that she still longs for her blades, that the desire is overwhelmingly strong.

The conversation becomes a blur in my memory, because of what happened not long after…

We talked for a while about various things, and I pulled out my Bible to explore some of her questions. I do this cautiously with those who are completely shut down spiritually, because of the abuse of the Bible in their past. I find words of hope for them, and read those.

Whatever it was in conversation that led to it, I felt as though we were making a bit of progress, like Abigail was following. But in one instant our evening spun out of control. I was mid-sentence when it happened, and it took a moment to register…

Abigail dove forward, completely out of character, so that it stunned me too much to react. She snatched something from my Bible and leaned back, defiance and victory replacing the typical reserved demeanour.

As I absorbed the moment, it dawned on me…

The blades.

My heart sank. A wave of mild nausea washed over me as the shock faded and reality registered. I had left the blades in my Bible, having completely forgotten about them.

Oh God! What have I done! My heart cried silently. I felt sickeningly responsible for the weapon in her hand. I had launched her into an all out battle.

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I reached out my hand, pleading with Abigail to give me the blades.

“Please?” I said, desperately.

She looked with defiance, as if challenging me, or taunting. I couldn’t tell for sure. “Please, may I have it back?” I asked again.

I sat there for some time, my heart beating just a bit harder than usual, and my hand still outstretched. That’s when it caught my eye–the other blade–sticking out of my Bible. I snatched it, and popped it in my pocket, not taking any more chances. When it poked my leg, and I realized I was at risk of getting cut, I moved it, but kept it close to me.

It occurred to me, after a little while, that I felt far too responsible. Yes, I had made a mistake by leaving the blades in my Bible, but I am human, and at the end of the day it is not my choice to make. I can support, encourage and empower, but beyond that, I cannot control or take ownership for the behaviour or choices of another individual.

“Do you want the other one?” I asked, as I pulled out the second blade, and placed it on the coffee table in between us. “This is your decision,” I continued, “God gave you freewill for a reason. I cannot choose for you.”

Abigail looked sceptical. “Are you trying to guilt me?” she asked.

“No. I realized that it is not mine to carry. I told you I’d feel like your blood was on my hands, if something happened, but I can’t carry that. You need to make a decision.”

I removed personal items from my Bible, and slipped them into my laptop bag, then placed my Bible beside the blade. “Just one thing…. if you’re going to take the other blade, please take my Bible too. I’m leaving them both on the coffee table,” I said.

There were some long moments, of awkward silence. I’m okay with awkward. I imagine Jesus went through lots of awkward moments too. And if it helps a person, I’ll go through a thousand awkward moments, for their freedom.

At some point she said she needed to go to the restroom.

“Leave the blade here, please,” I said.

“Why?” Her eyes held a challenge, as if to say, ‘what ya gonna do about it?’

“Are you going to cut?” I asked.

“I might,” she said, still smirking.

“I give you five minutes to return, and not a minute longer,” I told her.

“And if I’m not?” she asked.

“If you are not back in five minutes, I will call 911. I won’t take any chances. I am here to fight for your heart and your soul, but I will fight for your life too. Five minutes… No longer.”

Abigail disappeared into the bathroom.

I looked at the time….

It ticked slowly by…

…To be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

Return to: Abigail’s Story Part One

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Jesus in a Dream: Abigail’s Story (Part 5)

The morning after Abigail gave me the blades, I received an email from her. The subject line read ‘Jesus in a Dream’. The message was a touching encounter that brought tears to my eyes.

“So I had a dream last night…
That I was a lost confused hurting little girl who had just ran away from home and was at my sister’s house. I didn’t always know what to do but I liked to read. Then one of my favourite authors did something (I don’t remember what) that made me decide to never read their books and I really didn’t like that author any more. 

However one day I went to meet that author, and he had already known what happened, that I was really disappointed and hurt over what he had done. 

Suddenly I was standing in front of this author…. and it was Jesus. He was saying how he knew all about what had happened and that he was so sorry that it had happened.  He asked, Will you choose me? Will you accept me back into your life despite what happened? 

Half still sleeping and half awake I said…

YES, I’ll take u back! 

By this time I was good and awake! We had a little discussion, Jesus and I. He was asking me to trust Him with hurts. I said I would try, but I asked Him why He let it all happened in the first place? He reminded me of the song Nothing is Wasted by Jason Gray. But he also said He understands why I would feel that way. He said that life was never meant to be so hard, it was never how he designed it to be.”

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Not long after a text came through, “Just sent you an email. It’s called ‘Jesus in a Dream’. Just a question, if that happened last night, why does the struggle seem no different today? Shouldn’t it be some breakthrough experience and I should feel better inside?”

“An encounter with Jesus does not necessarily remove the struggle,” I wrote back. “But it does give us strength for the battle. An experiential high creates the illusion of overcoming the battle, but often leads to a hard fall. It is in quiet ‘knowing’ that we find lasting peace.”

Abigail’s text the following morning, indicated just how strong the battle was. She told me she wanted her blades back, but I knew it was an illusion, the tangible substitute for a deeper desire.

“What you really want is hope and a full life,” I wrote. “The enemy is lying to you about the blades.”

“But everything seems so dark and and hopeless. I need them,” Abigail replied.

“You need Jesus,” I said. “The blades create more darkness. More shame.”

We chatted a while longer, and she told me how it seems to her, sometimes, that Jesus is far away. And how God is such a condemning God, and not at all ‘safe’, and ready to send everyone to hell if they do the least bit wrong.

I asked her if God introduced Himself to her that way or, if someone told her that is who He is, if it’s possible that someone has lied to her God. I asked her if she would let her son die for someone she didn’t really care about, someone she would cast into hell at first sin or wrong doing.

I remember well what it was like to live in terror of a God who claimed to have paid the price through Jesus, but demanded perfection. And particularly perfection in presentation. That god scared the life right out of me, and pushed me deeper into sin.

But the day I met Jesus, and He knelt down to write in the sand, everything changed. (John 8:1-12) That day He, being God, placed Himself in a position of servant-hood  a position lower than me, in all my sin, and He looked up at me, and saw only my need, not my sin. He looked on me with love and compassion, not condemnation.

That day I met God–the gentle, trustworthy Redeemer, who paid the price for my sin, and is quick to forgive. And that day I lost my desire for sin. When He spoke those words, “Neither do I condemn you….” I never wanted to fail Him again, or wound His heart, even before He added the command, “go… and don’t continue in your sin.”

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been mad at Him. I’ve had my moments of feeling lost and abandoned. Moments of struggle. Moments of throwing tantrums that would be the spiritual equivalent to the terrible two’s. And moments of falling into sin, but I never desired a life of sin again.

When I hear Abigail, and others like her, struggling with the iron-fisted God, my heart breaks. Fighting a battle like hers is hard enough knowing He is on our side, but to fight, fearing He is against us, is utterly hopeless.

Abigail shared more of her struggle, and told me there are more things that she had not yet shared. Maybe if I knew about those I, too, would be overwhelmed. Maybe I would say, like her therapists and psychologists, that I couldn’t deal with it, or wouldn’t know how.

We agreed to meet for an extra session a few days later, rather than sticking to our weekly schedule….

To Be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

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