thatmom

real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

what luke 9 can teach us about spiritual abuse

During the past few weeks as we have been looking at the subject of spiritual abuse, I have received some interesting notes from women, each who have a story to tell. One of the questions that keeps coming up is “why did I get involved in this situation in the first place?” It is a question I have asked myself before and I know that has several answers. I believe that one of the reasons can be found by taking a closer look at Luke 9.

The disciples had just witnessed many miraculous works. They had traveled around, under the power and authority of Jesus, healing and casting out demons. They had trusted that God would provide all they needed as they went from town to town and He did. In fact, when they returned from their journey, they witnessed one of the most spectacular miracles of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the feeding of the 5000 men plus any women and children who were present with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Living by faith and watching God provide in such amazing ways had become a very real part of their lives.

It was on the heels of this miraculous way of life that Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him to a mountain top retreat for a time of prayer. Scripture tells us that as Jesus was praying, his countenance and his clothes became “bright as a flash of lightning.” And as if that wasn’t spectacular enough, suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared, also in “glorious splendor” and began talking to Jesus about the coming events surrounding His death and resurrection. Since the Bible tells us that the disciples had been sleepy, I think they must certainly have been thinking they were dreaming, one of those dreams that seem very real right before we wake up. Even as they had been basking in God’s provision for them in ministry, they must certainly have been blown away by the sheer glory and splendor that surrounded them.

Then Peter, the disciple whose zeal and naiveté I always find myself relating to, excitedly suggested, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let’s put up three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah!” Oh, how I can relate to this situation. Peter, bless his heart, was so caught up in the glory of God’s presence and the joy of that small taste of heaven that he didn’t want it to end. His offering to build shelters for those whose glory could not be contained is amusing but it is such a great commentary on our own humanity when we are confronted with the power of God. Even after being shown the taste of what is real and eternal, so often we want to control it, to put it in a “shelter” and keep it according to what we know here on earth. We live in the present and in the temporal even when Jesus gives us a taste of the eternal and the divine.

As moms, we are often overwhelmed, making sure all the housework and schoolwork are done, everyone’s needs are addressed, and that all our responsibilities are met at the end of the day. We are so focused on our earthly lives that we want to bring Jesus down to our level, to house Him on our own property, to keep His glory contained for our own personal benefit. When that happens, I think we tend to take our eyes off of the glorious Jesus, the One who dwells in the heavenlies, the One who has called us His own, saved us by grace, and who is preparing a glorious home for us in heaven. It is at that point that we can become tempted by false teachers and abusers who will use us for their own means.

Luke chapter 9 then goes on to say this: “While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Isn’t this really the solution for all of us who are so caught up in the things of this world? We have to listen to Jesus, to read the Gospels and learn from what He shows us. It is as we stay in the Word and seek to walk with Him that the cares and concerns of this world are put into proper perspective. Spiritual abuse is real and no one is exempt from its influence. But trusting Christ alone for all we need for life and godliness and living in a daily relationship with Him will keep us from placing our confidence in man.

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3 Comments»

  Cindy K wrote @

Karen,

This is beautiful. I’ve pondered these things over and over again. There are certain Scriptures and ideas that capture my attention as I speculate about the “whys” and “hows.”

The first is the idea that Jesus was wounded in the house of His friends. He came to seek and save the lost of the House of Israel, and they rejected Him, for the most part. Then, His own disciples and even Peter the Rock faultered. There is no Scripture that says that to be conformed into His image means that we will suffer like Jesus or be tempted like He was, but I feel like I’ve walked through my own version of Isaiah 53. Few “believed my report” for many years. I’ve been rejected and my husband and I entered a season of heavy affliction. Towards the end of the worst of it, I even prayed that God would see the travail of my own soul, just as He did with the Suffering Servant, so that whatever He was working in me would be made perfect through that tribulation and complete, and be satisfied with the result of His purpose for me in that season of my life. I prayed that His work would be completed so that the painful process could end. It was very difficult, because though my husband was with me, men often withdrawl when the process grief, and I felt very, very alone.

An idea also kept recurring in my head and I heard others say it at times in very unique if not strategic ways so that it caught my attention: God was stretching and enlarging the heart of my compassion [NOT the heart in my chest says the former ICU nurse!]. For about a year, the references that I heard to either this or Isreal stretching out her borders became almost ridiculous. (And I don’t think that I’ve heard that reference now for about 3 years, except in my own memory.) Some of that is God getting our attention and atuning our own brains to hear what He wants us to hear, and I believe that this is also the message of the Holy Spirit that uses others to speak for Him. But that was a very prominent message that it was time to stretch and grow. I learned so much of what that meant through either ministry I received or through ministry that I wish had been available to me in the midst of the process of healing.

Before all of this became a painful “stretching” like a pregnant woman or the man with the withered hand, I stayed up all night one night, practically demanding that God appear to me like He did with Habakkuk. I fell asleep reading Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” that night and didn’t stay awake to meet God (though I know He was never absent from me). The next day while getting ready to brush my teeth, I had a very odd experience of the sensation of a hand on my right shoulder, what felt exactly like warm breath on my right cheek and a very, very real — almost audible — words in my head: “If I told you what you needed to walk through, would you be satified to know that you would never agree to walk the path that I’ve laid before you?” And I know that sounds crazy, and I now know that if you are sleepless for many nights, your temporal lobe can trigger a sensation of “felt sense.” But I believe that I had a little theophany that morning (a fantastic and powerful experience that I’ve only had about three or so times in my life). That experience, I believe, helped me find meaning in what seemed like years of pain and hopelessness as I essentially reprocessed my whole religious exprience and beliefs, on a non-vicarious and more serious level. Had I known that day what did lay before me, I definitely would have turned to run for my life.

Looking back now, I can clearly see that without this experience, I cannot fathom how the Lord would have “persuaded” me to give up certain powerful idols. He certainly could have ripped my idols out of my hands, but I believe that God chose to use my circumstances and the church to change my heart so that I would willingly relinquish my idol of the approval of man (and certain, significant people in my life). Without the spiritual abuse experience, I don’t know how He would have otherwise been able to get my attention and deliver me. (Which does not mean that I no longer struggle with idolatry or no longer have idols… I’m not so naive as to think that I’ve arrived. I just have significantly fewer now than I used to and anticipate that in years from now, I will have significantly fewer idols than I have today. We are creatures created to worship, and I believe that the Christian’s spiritual walk is partly a process of laying down those idols until we worship only the Lord in pure Spirit and Truth.) I Corinthians 10 figured quite prominently in my realization of spiritual abuse as well. Idolatry, lust (indulgence), immorality, murmuring and complaining, etc. were major themes and this spiritual abuse brought my attention to many of these things in my life (not that I’m delivered and perfect in these areas, either). But I never would have recognized the blatant idolatry in my life in the way that I have, were it not for this thing called spiritual abuse.

So all Glory to the Lord alone for taking something evil and using it for my good! Oddly, this is one of my heart’s greatest desires and has been one of my enduring prayers — that God would exploit the things that I’ve suffered to work a miracle that brings Him glory.

In retrospect, spiritual abuse is just the ironic thing that God chose to conform me more into the likeness and image of Christ, demonstrating that the only one and only thing that I can trust is Him. I certainly have much greater skill at discerning Him from man’s counterfeit than I did before all of this.

  Sandy wrote @

Karen,

Thanks for this good post. It’s difficult, as you say, to keep our minds on things above, but setting our priorities right entails seeking first His Kingdom!

  Lin wrote @

“I think we tend to take our eyes off of the glorious Jesus, the One who dwells in the heavenlies, the One who has called us His own, saved us by grace, and who is preparing a glorious home for us in heaven. It is at that point that we can become tempted by false teachers and abusers who will use us for their own means.”

Let’s face it, having a ‘roles’ to play as a good wife and mother and a check list religion are MUCH easier than a real intimate relationship with our SAVIOR.

Here is an example as told to me recently: My friend was leaving her radiation treatment for cancer recently and was in a hurry to meet someone. As she walked out, she noticed an old woman sitting in a wheel chair by the door looking very distressed. She walked right past her. On the way to her car, she knew the Holy Spirit was convicting her to go back to this woman….a complete stranger. She hesitated, went to her car and got in. The conviction became stronger. She got out and went back in. There was someone else sitting with this woman consoling her. Obviously a stranger to this old woman.

Message sent.

As my friend related to me: We have to be available and willng to be used. It may mean missing another appointment or a messy house or even, heaven forbid, a late dinner.

When we spend time in a man made ‘role’ thinking that God would never have us inconvenience our husband or family or allowing a messy house to do His will, we miss out on His riches He has for us to minister. We miss out on an intimate relationship with Him alone.

May it NOT be so!!!


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