John 8:36: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

If someone has a bad reputation we usually stay away from that person. Have you ever noticed that God has a bad reputation in the eyes of people who don’t want anything to do with Him? Bad experience with religion can lead people away from God. I had such bad experiences and here is my story:

Growing up without a dad, every child reacts differently to an absentee father. For some reason it tricked me into thinking that I was inconsequential. To make matters worse I faced sexual abuse at age 15, unbeknownst to my mother. I became more and more withdrawn.

When God emerged on the horizon of my awareness, I used Him as an escape from a life that seemed scary to me. I was the perfect candidate for a cult. Barely 20 years old, I joined a community who lived in an old castle in Rheinbreitbach, Germany. I stayed there until I was in my thirties.

The cult was toxic to say the least. Used as a rule book, the Bible was abused to infringe on every aspect of freedom, especially freedom of thought. I honestly believed I would go to hell if I ever thought of leaving. Meanwhile the stress of living in a place I had begun to hate began to wear on me. I got sick, lost weight and sunk into a deep depression. Music helped me cope. Composing felt like a window in a cage. A melody emerges out of nowhere and evolves and you just roll with it. Music became my little freedom corner. However, a melody is wordless, and I had yet to learn to say what I think, rise out of the ashes and move on.

That day arrived when my brother came to see me. It was strongly discouraged to have any interaction with relatives (unless they were pro-cult), so I had not spoken with my family in years. I asked him one question: Would my mother be able to forgive me for pushing her away all this time? The answer was yes. So I jumped ship. I broke away from a community that claimed to be my true family but treated me like a slave.

I was set free from false religion, but to maintain my freedom I had to find my voice. I had to start believing in me. Believing in God is a two-way street. If we believe in Him we need to start believing in us also, because God believes in us. Our identity is tied with Him. Walking with the Lord through the highs and lows I have learnt to face a crisis instead of going into hiding; no more trying to escape, I live fully.

Slavery keeps us in a box. Jesus wants to free us from this box, unlock our true potential and live the surprising life of a follower of Christ. We need to take advantage of the redeeming qualities of God’s Son who can heal us and bring us to a place of peace where we don’t have to prove anything, start from scratch with God and abandon any tainted ideas about Him.

If marbles stand for preconceived notions, then we need to let go of our marbles to keep an open mind. And once we are freed from our box, we need to refrain from the nasty habit of putting other people or even God into a box. Holding on to Jesus He will defend our freedom like no other.

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