Jesus. Brings. Life.

Jesus brings life and inner healing
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:6a NIV)

Jesus says:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19 NIV)

Recently, Jesus has brought His words to life in my heart. Since my youngest days, I have struggled with a fear of death. I read Jesus’ words in these scriptures, but couldn’t get the truth into my own heart. I believed these words for others, but not for myself.

Over the past few weeks, Jesus has brought these words home to my heart.

Now, I believe!

First, Jesus reminded me of the healing work He did in my life a few years ago. After 27 years, I was finally able to find peace and life in the memories of my dad, who I had lost suddenly as a teen:

God’s Not Going Away

That testimony prepared my heart for what came next – an inner healing session in which Jesus obliterated the spirit of death’s hold on me, right before my spirit eyes:

Who’s Afraid of Death?

The changes in my life have been tangible since then, and I look forward to walking this out with life overflowing. Thank You, Jesus, for bringing abundant life. Thank You, God, for Your goodness and love.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7 NIV)

Jesus brings life and inner healing

Pray Through It

Have you ever taken on a new challenge where you weren’t really sure you could do it? I think we all have – probably many times. It’s in those experiences where we learn how to pray from a deeper level of dependence on God. What a great opportunity to grow in prayer and relationship with Him.

Last summer, I took on a part-time job I never thought I would do. I became part of a family’s home health team. I was trained by a home health care nurse in how to dress a surgical incision that had opened and become infected, as well as how to administer IV antibiotics through a PICC line.

If you are shrugging your shoulders like this is no big deal, then maybe you work in the health field or you can stomach a lot. If you are, at this point, hoping I won’t give any further details about that job, then you are like me. I am not a person who wants to be around any situation where things that should be inside the body are, in fact, on the outside or visible. The sight of blood freaks me out and makes me just about pass out. And I certainly can’t look at an open wound, let alone touch it.

Yet there I was, on the morning of the Fourth of July, heading to the assisted living home for home health training.

I prayed as I approached the place: “God, please help me do this.” While I often pray that prayer, it seldom comes from the place in my heart where I realize, “Without You, I literally cannot.” And yet, without God, I cannot do anything, even the things I think I can do. I cannot even draw breath without Him. Note to self: Pray from that place in your heart all the time!

I learned how to do the PICC line, which isn’t complicated, but it’s also not something you want to mess up. I began to pray through every step, asking the Lord to do each part for me. As I attached the bag of antibiotics, I asked Jesus to move throughout her body, administering the healing Himself. I prayed through the entire process, each and every time, all summer. I prayed with the patient, and I prayed over her. I prayed before arriving, the whole time I was there, and after I left. I prayed as I sterilized equipment and took inventory of supplies. I put the entire procedure into God’s hands, each and every time.

When it came time to learn about wound care, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the sight of the incision. When I had surgery many years ago, I couldn’t even look at my own incision until weeks later. And my incision was closed, not open and infected. Yet as I approached the patient’s bed, I prayed, “Lord Jesus, You are going to have to make this okay for me.” He did. I was able to look at the wound and follow the instructions for wound care without flinching. All I felt was a determination to do what God and the home health nurse asked me to do, and let Jesus take care of healing the wound.

The first time I tried to change the dressing myself, I had difficulty with some of the steps. It was necessary to place a debriding strip into the wound. That was hard to do. The strip kept falling out. I realized how much discomfort I was causing the patient. I knew I had to move faster, and yet I could barely make the process work. So I prayed harder. Before my next shift, I prayed, “Lord, please take care of changing the dressing Yourself. You are the Healer. Use my hands as You know best.”

Driving to the assisted living home for the next treatment, I felt the Lord prompt me just to go in and talk with Him the whole time I was changing the dressing, and to do it out loud, so the patient could hear. That’s exactly what I did. As I began to remove the old dressing, I said, “Lord Jesus, thank You for helping us do this. Thank You for protecting her skin. Thank You that the wound is already starting to heal by Your power.” I just kept a running dialogue (or monologue, really) through the whole process. And it worked out fine. From that point on, I never had a problem. We were done quickly, and the patient said she was fine through the process.

A few nights after I started wound treatment, the Lord gave me a dream about the patient. In that dream, I walked in, removed the dressing, and the wound was completely healed. It looked beautiful. I began to pray for that, and to thank Him for that dream, every time I went in there. I told the patient about the dream, and she was grateful to God for giving us that promise.

Thus began the daily miracle of watching her wound heal. Every single morning, it had improved. When I removed the dressing, I would say to her, “Let’s see what Jesus did last night.” Sure enough, there was a marked difference, each and every time. I have been involved with healing prayer ministry for many years. I have seen God heal many times. This was a different way to watch Him heal. To see the daily improvement of His handiwork. What a miracle, and what a privilege.

Toward the end of the summer, the course of antibiotics was completed. The patient was doing so much better now that the infection was gone. Wound care had to continue until the incision was completely closed. I don’t remember how many weeks that process continued. But I do remember the morning I went in, removed the dressing, and all that was left was a dent the size of a pin prick. The wound was completely closed. Just like in the dream. The Lord had allowed me to see it with my own eyes.

This experience taught me a deeper awareness of my utter dependence on Him. I would love for all my prayers to come from that realization in my heart – that without Him, I can do nothing. It also reminded me that with Him, I can do whatever He asks me to do. I just have to pray through it, and leave the rest up to Him.

What is God calling you to do that you don’t think you can do? Talk to Him from that place in your heart that knows how desperately you need Him. See what He says, and see what He shows you. Enjoy your fellowship with Him.

Honor is Not the Same as Tolerance

When I was growing up, my mom would often vent to me about her bitterness toward people. My mom was not the kind of person people would think of as bitter. In public, she came across as quiet and kind, and a little bit quirky and eccentric.

What people didn’t realize was that her compassion came from a very sensitive heart. Her heart got stepped on quite a bit, and she was easily hurt. She held in her bitterness, which grew into resentment. Her only place to vent was talking to me. I would come home after school and hear about whoever made her feel hurt that day.

From age three, when I started attending Sunday school, I had been taught to “honor my mother and father.” I was told this was a very serious thing that Jesus wanted me to do. I took it to heart. Unfortunately, I was only given the platitude. I was not taught what honoring looks like in real life.

I came to believe that the best way I could honor my mother was to quietly and submissively allow her to say all kinds of bitter things in front of me. I would just nod my head and try to muster great sympathy. Her bitterness would grow because I kept helping her nurture it.

It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I learned what honor really means. To honor someone is to value that person at her true God-given worth. It means holding that person up as who God created her to be.

If I had truly been honoring my mom, I would not have tolerated her bitterness. I would have let her vent, but then I would have said, “Mom, let’s pray to forgive those people and ask Jesus to take away this bitterness. Because bitterness is not who you are. I want to honor who you are. God made you loving and compassionate with a sensitive heart. I’m so sorry people have taken advantage of that and trampled your heart. That hurts me to see you hurt. But bitterness is not the answer. It is just hurting you more. Let’s ask Jesus to lift that bitterness.”

That kind of confrontation didn’t come easily or naturally to me. I avoided speaking like that to anyone. I tried so hard just to be nice. But as I have come to learn, and as a friend of mine has written so compellingly, “nice” is not a fruit of the Spirit. “Nice” elevates tolerance over truth. In my situation, “nice” dishonored my mom.

Once I realized my sin, I had to repent for how I had dishonored my mom all those years. And I had to repent for the ways I had judged her as “bitter.” Because even though I tolerated her behavior outwardly, in my heart I resented her bitterness. (You can see how easy it is for this kind of pattern to continue generationally.) I asked God to forgive me.

When I finally did have that conversation with my mom about bitterness (in my early 40s), I was terrified. But the outcome was something I couldn’t have imagined or expected. My mom’s heart softened. I may have been one of the first people to acknowledge her sensitive heart and apologize for how people treated her. We prayed together, and she said she felt better.

Our conversations after that were more peaceful. She was still bitter sometimes, but I just invited her to pray with me, and she did. She always said she felt better. I got to see a new side of her during the final years of her life, and she had much more peace. Through that experience, I learned what it meant to honor my mother for who God truly made her to be.

 

Little Toes and Healing Prayer

I broke my toe last week. Owie! It’s not the first time. I’ve broken my little toe twice before, once on my left foot, once on my right. The first time I was living and teaching in Siberia (Russia) and on the road with a group of college students to a conference in Ukraine in the middle of winter when the break happened. Memorable!

I don’t remember the circumstances of the second time, which tells me it was wrapped up in trauma. But I do know I broke my little toe again.

Back then I didn’t know the power of prayer. I prayed often, feeling other people’s pain, silently begging God to help them, or weeping for them. I didn’t know back then I was a burden bearer; didn’t know what that meant, what it looked like, or what to do with it. I just knew I felt something that I later understood was God’s heart.

But I sure didn’t know about healing prayer, or praying for trauma, injuries, accidents, illnesses. I didn’t know I could stop right in the middle of breaking my toe and ask God to heal it, or what that looked like.

I know that now. And what a difference. The first time I broke my toe, it was quite painful and took a long while to heal. Long, long while, limping around through the Russian winter, unable to wear a winter boot, settling for layers of socks and a flip flop. Wow.

Yet today, a week after I broke the next to littlest toe on my left foot, it is healing fast and well. It feels amazing. I’m still going to exercise wisdom and not put too much pressure on it for a bit. No jogging just yet. I believe God gives us wisdom, and wisdom tells me to let the poor thing rest. But it is healing so much better than the first time.

The only significant difference is prayer. Last time, I didn’t pray. This time, I prayed from the moment I smashed my toe, and continued to pray all through the weekend. I asked others to pray, and when I arrived the next evening for Healing Rooms, the team prayed and anointed my toe with oil.

Prayer makes the difference. The only other difference between then and now is age, and being more physically out of shape. If anything, those two should work against me! But here my toe is, feeling so much better because of God’s healing, and inviting that healing through prayer. Prayer is an invitation for God to do what He already wants to do for us – heal us. He is healing my toe. Thank You, God!

I included the painting above that I did last year. Yes, this is a painting of my feet! It seems a good reminder of how much God wants to heal us, right down to the littlest toe.

Is there any injury or infirmity you’re carrying around that you haven’t asked God to heal? Why don’t you pray and ask Him today to heal you? Would you like our Healing Rooms team to pray for you? Let us know! We would love to pray.

Amazing

It amazes me to realize Friday, February 6, 2004 I was sitting in a hotel room in St. Petersburg, Florida – a room I couldn’t pay for, because someone I had trusted with my heart and my life had stolen everything. I mean everything.

I had arrived that day for a conference, never knowing my life was about to end as I knew it. I remember sitting in the corner – the words “devastated” and “numb” come to mind, but they don’t begin to describe. For years I thought I’d hit rock bottom. That night I rolled off the continental shelf into a trench.

Somewhere in my heart a flicker of hope still lived. It was faint and buried deep, but it was alive. I didn’t even know what to hope for except “something.” A reason to keep living.

That was 10 years ago. I am OVERWHELMED AND AMAZED by what God has done. He met me in the corner of the room that night. I’d been a Christian my whole life but that was the first time I’d ever dared to look Him in the eyes and address Him with my whole heart: “Help me.”

HE SURE DID!!!!!!!!!!! I never could’ve imagined a life like the one I’m blessed with now. And it just gets better every day.

Don’t ever give up, no matter where you are, no matter what you’re feeling, no matter what you’ve been through. Cry out to Him. THERE IS NOTHING HE CAN’T DO.

Saved from Drowning

I’d like to shift gears and share a little about summer again. This summer I had a wonderful time tubing and kayaking in the river with my friends. We went on several river outings and each one seemed more wonderful than the last. We always prayed before we left, and it’s a good thing!

On one outing, we had a group of adults and children in kayaks. Our river is very calm, which may sound boring to white water explorers. But for us, that is part of the attraction. There are a few small rapids to keep things interesting, but mostly we can just relax and have fun.

About a quarter of the way into our trip, one of the children got stuck behind a fallen tree. Her mom was right ahead of me. She steered over to help unlodge her child. In this placid river, there turned out to be a strong eddy behind the fallen tree. In this small place of no more than two feet around, the current was crushing. The mom’s kayak flipped. I was right behind and trying not to hit her head with my bow. In trying to steer away, I flipped too. I was sucked under the two kayaks and the tree.

I’ve been in an undertow before, in the ocean. This was worse, because my head was at least a foot below the surface. It happened so fast I didn’t get a breath, and the force of the water was strong. It kept pulling me down. I grabbed hold of “something” and started climbing. I didn’t realize the “something” was the stomach of my friend who had overturned. She had stabilized her feet and was able to get a grip on my bathing suit. She hoisted me to where my mouth was just about the water and I could breathe.

I continued to grapple with the tree until I could get my whole face above the water. I started to panic, because the force of the water felt crushing against my chest. I thought it would drag me under again. Then I took a moment to just breathe and be calm and realize I was going to be okay.

My friend told me to climb out along her kayak (firmly plastered against the fallen tree) while another friend, standing on a beach in the middle of the river, told me to climb out and jump in, and let the current carry me down the beach. At first, the thought of jumping back into a current was frightening. But as I edged closer, I saw that the main current wasn’t violent like the eddy. I jumped in and let the water carry me to safety. A few minutes later, my friend got her boat turned rightside up and got her daughter unwedged. All people were safely on the beach and all equipment was gathered.

I walked up to another friend, who is a prayer minister, and told her our other friend had just saved my life. Being a prayer minister, she knew to pray for God to lift all trauma off my body and mind. The trauma prayer was so powerful. Immediately it calmed me (I had been shaking and gasping for breath until then). I was able to get back into the water and swim around a little in the current, to see that my fear was gone. By lunchtime, halfway through the trip, I was bodysurfing in the current along with the children, and having a great time.

I left the river with a couple minor injuries – I had a palm-sized bruise on my thigh and something wrong with the arch of my foot, from grappling with the tree. That was small in comparison to being alive! I thank God for helping us that day – and for lifting off the trauma so we could continue to enjoy His beautiful creation in safety and fun. Since then, my bruise has healed, and my foot (after receiving a lot of healing prayer) is feeling much better. Go God!

I’m leaving tomorrow on a much needed vacation. I will see you back here Monday, October 8. Thanks for reading! 🙂

God Saved My Life

The enemy must be getting desperate. Two nights ago, I woke from a deep sleep at 1:30 a.m. – choking to death. It was the same sensation as taking water into your lungs while swimming, only worse. I couldn’t breathe in or out. It was surreal. I was strangely calm. I had this awareness that if I was about to die, I’d be all right. But I also felt that I wanted to live, that there are things I’d like to do and I’m finally enjoying my life. So I silently asked Jesus to help me.

It was as if He thumped me on the back and I was able to cough and I could breathe again. He saved my life.

I had enough assurance of His presence that I could go back to sleep without concern. I did ask Him, before going back to sleep, to send the enemy out of my house and to flood me and my home with His Holy Spirit. Then I went to sleep. I woke up feeling fine except a little soreness in my chest from the struggle to breathe.

Since that night, I have thought often about what happened. That one incident has built my faith in such a huge way. If God could save my life while I was choking alone in my house in the middle of the night … what can’t He do? Why should I worry about anything? I have felt such assurance since then. I am in very good hands. We all are. Thank You, God!

God Healed My Eye

I was recovering from the flu when I noticed bright flashes and a dark haze over my left eye. For two days I figured it was flu-related but it got worse. I asked our intercessory prayer team for prayer. By Friday, October 16, there was no change so I went to the eye doctor. Based on my symptoms, he called to schedule me for emergency surgery before even running tests. He thought I had a detached retina and could go blind at any moment.

I sat in the examination chair and prayed the whole time, knowing that Jesus is my Healer. I told the doctor that too. When the doctor ran the tests, he was amazed that “all” I had was a detached vitreous. I told the doctor I had been praying. The retina was hemorrhaging and the pressure could still pull it loose. I told the doctor my friends and I would keep praying. I had a peace in my spirit that everything would be fine. He told me to watch over the weekend and call if anything changed. I went immediately to my church where folks prayed over me.

On Monday, the doctor ran more tests. The hemorrhage was much smaller, there was less vitreous material blocking my vision, and he agreed I was out of immediate danger. I told him lots of folks had prayed, and he said, “Well, their prayers worked.” He told me it would take a long time, possibly a year or more, for complete healing and clear vision. Six months later I went in for a check-up. Everything was back to normal. Thank You, God!

*****

Update (Feb 2014) – I’ve had several illnesses since then, with bouts of coughing, including a really bad upper respiratory infection in February 2014 with severe coughing for several weeks – and NO problems with either of my eyes, NO problems with the vitreous or retina. My eyes are healed. PRAISE GOD!!!

*****

Update (Oct 22, 2015) – I went to the eye doctor today for a glasses prescription update. When he asked about my history, I told him about the healed vitreous. He wanted to check on this, so he advised that I have a retinal scan. To his surprise, and to my elation, the scan showed a beautiful retina with no sign that any detachment had ever occurred. Instead, there was a different kind of sign: in the upper corner of my retina was a bright cross! God’s way of saying, “I’ve been here, and you are healed.” Thank You, God.

I Choose Life

Yesterday (Friday) morning I was diagnosed with a detached vitreous in my left eye and with bleeding of the retina where the detachment occurred. The vitreous is the “gel” that covers the retina, and a section of it tore loose, did NOT take the retina with it (thank You, Jesus) and is sitting in the middle of my eye, blocking the center field of vision in my left eye. The torn part of the retina that is bleeding is a place where, if fluid gets in, the retina could detach, leading to blindness if not corrected immediately.

The doctor told me if I had insurance or money, he would have sent me straight to the surgeon. Instead, he asked me to “watch and wait” over the weekend to see if the symptoms get worse, indicating a retinal detachment and the need for immediate surgery.

“Watch and wait.” Not my favorite thing to do, especially with my precious eyesight at stake. But “watch and wait” has turned out to be a good opportunity to reflect on some changes God has made in my life – changes that have led me to “Choose life!”

I’ve gone through extensive spiritual healing in three areas that had affected me since birth: (1) Fear, (2) Self-hatred, (3) Refusing to choose life. All three of these affected my physical body for years (autoimmune, cancer, frequent injuries). Now walking free of these things, I have a spirit that shouts, “I choose life!” It feels like an inner fire has been lit, and I feel vibrant inside! My physical body is starting to respond, just as God’s Word says it will: “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?” (Proverbs 18:14)

As a result, my expectations have changed. I used to expect and fear the worst with my physical body, and so the worst kept happening. As I began to “choose life,” the Lord showed me the bad expectations I held, and the lies I believed in my spirit (“I am not worthy of health,” “I cannot be healed,” “I have no right to ask for my healing,” “Being sick makes me less of a person,” “People will always treat me badly if I admit I’m sick,” and “It is too late for my healing” were some of the many lies I had believed all my life). I repented of believing these lies, and I brought these lies and expectations to death at the Cross. I asked God to give me new expectations and the ability to hear only His truth.

Asking for prayer the night before, staying home from work, seeking medical help, believing God would provide a good doctor to see me right away and give me immediate answers, trusting God for the money to pay for the doctor visit, asking God, “Prepare the doctor to receive me. YOUR daughter is coming to see him,” getting rid of fear, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”(II Timothy 1:7), believing for a good diagnosis, and knowing that no matter what the diagnosis, God would heal… these are all things I wouldn’t have done in the past. I would have ignored the symptoms, gone to work, and lived in constant fear. I might have even lost my vision.

When the doctor did the first test on me, he looked grim but said nothing. While I waited for the second test, I prayed and reaffirmed, “I choose life!” I asked God to show me any other lies that might stand in the way, and He did. I brought those to the Cross. After the doctor completed the second test, he admitted his surprise that the results were better than he expected. He had concluded already that I had a detached retina, had written this already in my chart, and had already contacted the nearest surgeon. He said he had not expected a good outcome. (Well, I had!)

Later that day, after going first to the church, where folks prayed over me for healing (“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” James 5:14-15), I made an appointment with a friend who does reflexology at a healing spa. She prayed over me for healing while she worked on my feet. The enemy had thought I’d be spending the afternoon in emergency surgery. Instead, here I was at a spa. Isn’t that just how extravagant God is with His love?

Being asked to “watch and wait” on my eye this weekend has been a great opportunity already to see the healthy fruit of the changes in my spirit. In the past, I would have been constantly watching for the symptoms to get worse, and I would have walked in fear, “knowing” the worst would happen.

Instead, any time I woke up during the night, the first thing I looked for was to see if the symptoms had gone away, indicating healing. THAT was my expectation! I never even thought to wonder, “Is it worse?” It didn’t cross my mind. What a change!

This morning, with the symptoms still present, I caught myself falling into old habits, grumbling and thinking, “This blob in my eye is a constant reminder of the danger I’m in, that my retina is vulnerable, exposed, torn, bleeding … and could detach at any time.” The Holy Spirit convicted me immediately. I realized, “No! That’s a lie I don’t believe anymore!” Instead, I spoke out loud, reminding myself, “This blob in my eye is a blessed reminder that GOD is in control of my life, not me.” (Reminding me of when the Apostle Paul asked God to remove the thorn in his side, and the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” II Corinthians 12:9)

The “blob” is a cool reminder to keep my hands off the steering wheel. I pray I will learn this well enough and continue to remember God’s in charge, even after the symptoms disappear. During good health, our need for God is just as great as during times of illness. It is only by His grace that we live and breathe. It is only by His grace that we are saved. I’m glad right now to have this constant reminder of how much we need Him … and how precious we are to Him.

While these symptoms in my eye persist, does that mean I’m not healed? No. I’ve already been healed, and I accept that by faith. As Henry Wright says in his book, The More Excellent Way (looking at spiritual causes of disease), we need to focus not on the symptoms but on Jesus. The Lord says that by His stripes, I am healed (Isaiah 53:5; I Peter 2:24). I believe Him! I choose life! I choose health! Thank You, Lord.

P.S. Already my vision in my left eye is beginning to improve. It improved some last night, and it’s improved dramatically more as I’ve been writing this.

Why I Wear a Cross

A few days ago, someone asked me why I wear a gold cross around my neck. Well, I’ll tell you why.

Have you ever been madly in love with someone, and they give you something – a ring, a bracelet – that will always remind you of them? That’s why I wear this cross around my neck. Someone very special gave it to me, and it will forever remind me of him.

You know, people don’t believe in heroes anymore. But I do. I was rescued by one. He’s the guy that gave me the cross.

I still remember that night. Things were bad – as bad as they’d ever been. Not that things had ever been great. Ever since I came into this world, all I knew was that the world hated me. I was told I was worthless from day one. Rejected, abandoned, beaten up. I felt guilty for breathing the air. I should never have been born. I soon discovered it was way less painful to go ahead and beat myself up before anyone else did.

The world was a very dark place. Brutal. I stumbled from one battle to the next. Finally I ended up living in the middle of a war zone in New York City. I lived in a prison cell; it felt like a cage, which was where I belonged. There was violence and hatred all around me. And inside of me. I had no idea which was worse. I really don’t think it matters.

It’s not like I sat through it without a fight. Nah-ah. I fought like crazy to get out of there. Every time I tried, I got kicked back down, knocked out. More chains, more prison bars, more whips, more lies. The sounds of explosions growing louder outside, shaking the earth.

Still I fought. (It’s just who I am.)

One night, I had enough. It was a very dark night for me, because I never thought I could give up fighting. But I just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t have anything left.

So I gave up.

As I sat on the floor of the prison in the dark, my body and my heart ripped apart from the battle, all I could think was, “Why was I ever born?”

“I’ll tell you why.”

I looked up, startled. I thought I was alone. But there was this guy standing there. He had a key to the cell. He opened the door, came in and knelt down in front of me. I would’ve backed away from him, because I was scared. But I had nothing left. I just sat there and stared, praying that if he was gonna do something bad to me, he’d just get it over with.

Instead, he reached for my hand. He gave me this look I’d never seen before. I can’t even describe it. It was so beautiful it made me cry.

“I’ll get you out of here.”

I shook my head. “You can’t,” I whispered. I looked at the chains that held me to the wall.

“I’ll get you out. You have to trust me.”

“I can’t move.”

“Will you trust me?”

I wanted to. Finally I nodded.

Within seconds he unlocked every chain. He helped me to my feet, but my legs were too wobbly.

“Grab on,” he said.

“I can’t.” I fell to the floor.

“Come on, grab on.” He pulled me to my feet again, then he helped me up on his back. I wrapped my arms around his neck.

We went out the same way I’d come in. Right through the war zone. Gunfire, red hot explosions on all sides, the ground shaking beneath us, shouts of “Kill her!” echoing off the city walls. I saw one of the monsters who hated me the most. He snarled at me, his eyes glowing blood red. He had a grenade in his hand, and he hurled it at me. I cried out and closed my eyes, buried my face against my rescuer’s shoulders. The ground rocked. I felt the heat of the explosion, heard the pounding of rubble. Then a horrific scream. I thought it was mine.

When I realized I wasn’t dead, I opened my eyes. My attacker was sprawled on the ground, buried under the rubble he had caused. Another ran up, and I watched as my rescuer beat him to a pulp. He took out 10, 12, 18 at a time. I’d never seen anything like it. He moved so fast it made my head spin. They never knew what hit them.

Over and over, he beat back everyone who tried to kill me, all the way to the end of the war zone. We broke free, and left the fire and debris behind us. We traveled on through the night. Somewhere in the darkness I fell asleep. When I awoke, the sun was up. It hurt my eyes, it was so bright. For the first time in my life, the air was clear. I started to choke, because I could finally breathe.

When I could speak, I whispered to him, “I don’t ever want to go back there.”

“You don’t have to,” he said. “You’re free.”

“But … ?”

He shook his head. “You’re free.”

Then he handed me a gold cross on a chain.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

I could hardly keep my eyes open. I was so tired. I fell asleep again, safe in his arms, grasping the cross in my hand. I’ve never let go of it since that day. I will never forget the way he got me out of prison and carried me through the war zone to freedom.

***
I grew up in the church, as a “Christian.” But I never really knew who Jesus was. I never knew who God was.

I didn’t become a true Christian (“a follower of Christ, a lover of Christ”) until that dark night when Jesus opened my prison cell, and carried me out through the hell that surrounded me. I didn’t become a true Christian until Jesus told me how the world had lied to me. He told me I was not worthless. He didn’t just tell me. He showed me by his actions.

And he beat the crap out of the enemy on my behalf.

I never knew how fierce Jesus was – how fiercely he fights, and how fiercely he loves – until that night.

That’s why I’m a Christian. That’s why I wear his cross around my neck. That’s why I will go wherever he is. I just want to be with him. I can’t survive in this world without him.

There are lots of “nice” reasons to become a Christian. I didn’t become a Christian for nice reasons. I became a Christian for one reason only: because of Jesus.

There are lots of “nice” reasons to wear a cross around your neck. I don’t wear my cross for nice reasons. I wear it because I remember what it was like to be in prison. I remember what the war zone was like. And I know who rescued me. I know who cared about me when no one else did. I know who truly loves me.

And I know who is strong enough and fierce enough to protect me.

What Jesus did for me, he will do for anybody.

It’s like he said: “Trust me.”