Melissa Pickens’ Thin Place: Slave No More

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Melissa continues the themes of this post on her blog, Breathe Deeply. She partners with her husband to bring the message of healing and restoration to people through Rally Point Ministries.  (Want to encourage others by sharing your  Thin Place story? Read here to find out how.)
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Several years ago, exhaustion found me lying in a heap on the floor, crying out to God. These were the cries of misery coming from the depths of a wounded heart. Years of oppression had taken their toll. No longer in denial, I had become painfully aware of my condition. I was a slave to my past; and I wanted to be free.

My story is not much different from the Israelites who found themselves enslaved by the Egyptians long ago. They were the chosen and blessed people of God, multiplying by leaps and bounds.  Fearing potential threats to his reign, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, sapped their life away under the most ruthless and harsh conditions of slavery.

Oddly, the Israelites continued to multiply under Pharaoh’s oppression. So he took drastic measures to reduce their potential by killing their baby boys. However, God saw their misery, heard the cries of their torment, and executed one of the most dramatic rescues of history. It was a rescue from slavery to freedom, emptiness to plenty, brokenness to wholeness.

God first rescued me through the work of Jesus Christ at the tender age of seven when I first realized I was bent toward sin, and in need of a savior. But I have since learned that we, like the Israelites, continue to need a rescue—not just from our sins but from a wounded past that haunts us! We have an enemy much like the king of Egypt, named Satan. He knows who we can become in Christ, and he fears us. Prideful, power hungry, and at war with God, he seeks to destroy and enslave us through whatever means necessary.

Growing up in a Christian home and in church does not ensure a perfect and pain-free life. By the age of ten, I had suffered verbal abuse, along with the devastating effects of sexual abuse by three different persons. The enemy took his cue to pour salt in these wounds, enslaving me with his lies that I was the guilty one, bad, disgusting, and an utter disappointment.

Like the Israelites, I managed to grow in spite of the oppression, which I kept neatly tucked away and hidden. As the saying goes, kids are resilient (but only for so long). Growing in wisdom and boldness through adolescence, I shared my relationship with Jesus openly with peers and adults alike through mission trips and on the home front. Clearly my life was a threat to the enemy’s kingdom. So he sought to decrease my potential with what he hoped would be the final blow…

Though it appeared to others that his oppression had had no effect, we both knew I had believed his lies and tried hard to forget them. Knowing this weakness, he crafted an ultimate betrayal while I was still a teenager. An ongoing emotional, spiritual, and sexual assault by a pastor—a misrepresentation of God’s love and care.

For years afterward, it seemed the enemy’s plan had worked. I succumbed to the lie that I was a hopeless disappointment, and my life a travesty. Running from my past, shame and fear permeated every day of my existence. My once vibrant, passionate, Christian life had been reduced to an empty life of duty, perfectionism, and control.

Never wanting to be or feel out of control again led me to this style of living and relating with others. Unexplainable anger (to me at the time) erupted often in the privacy of our home like a volcano. All this affected my entire being, my marriage, and my children—oppressing us all—yet I continued to keep my world spinning on this axis of control for nearly a decade.

That is when exhaustion and frustration finally got the best of me, and I began crying out to God. The more I cried, the more I awakened to the depth of my condition. I was a slave. Chained and beaten by the enemy’s lies, pushed to the brink by self-preservation, my heart needed deep healing and restoration. I cried out for a rescue!

My cry came before Him, into His ears. The earth trembled and quaked because He was angry at my enemies. He parted the heavens and came down. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy; with great bolts of lightening He routed them. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He rescued me from my enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.
(Psalm 18, various verses NIV)

Unlocking my heart took three courageous years of perseverance and endurance, allowing Jesus to walk me through the recesses of a mangled past. First, He began stripping me of all the destructive ways of survival and self-protection. Going back to the point of each wound, He recovered what was lost, stolen, and given up there.

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

Lovingly and patiently He tended my heart. He scattered the lies and renewed my mind with the light of His truth. When taking another step proved too painful, He just held me close.

There were days it seemed God was distant and victory impossible. In those times I had to believe Him to be who He says He is, the God who “is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NIV)

That season of intense healing brought a freedom I never knew was possible. The freedom of becoming—not just better—but whole.

Life was regained.  
Trust was restored.
Hope was renewed.

God proved His grace truly is sufficient by relentlessly coming for me time and time again.

I have learned that wherever we are, God sees us, hears our cries, and is determined to rescue us.

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