The Exodus of Survivors
“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.”
One reason people remain enslaved to domestic abuse is fear. With every reason to fear, we remain at the mercy of an abuser. Or so we think. For those in Christ, this is a tremendous deception. We are no longer at anyone’s mercy, but God’s. When I began listening to the song, “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, from which the opening phrase of this post is taken, I began to see more of what it means to be free in Christ in my life. I am on the road now of finding out more about what that means and putting it into practice.
In the journey of their exodus from Egypt, the people of God were beset with fear. We all know the story, but victims of abuse know it very well. The fear that affected the Israelites fleeing Egypt is similar the fear we have when it comes to exiting abusive relationships. Just as Pharaoh and his forces came after God’s people, so all too often we are sought after by the abuser when we attempt to exit. The abuser and the abuser’s allies make innumerable attempts to retrieve us and put us back under bondage. The flags are flying sky high as we come out of the fog and begin to see how sick our lives have been. Some abusers will stop at nothing in an attempt to completely destroy their victims and this comes in a myriad of ways. Courts are inundated with attempting to unravel the truth. Judges are trying to uphold the law while their confusion abounds. And the law often is weak, providing many loopholes for abusers to manipulate it to their wicked agenda.
Abusers are believable people, just as Satan is. If the lie were not mixed with an element of truth, no one would ever believe an abuser. It is sufficient to say that gaining our exodus from the abuser is a long tortuous journey. I know of no one who left an abuser who was able to leave quietly or with their lives and finances still intact. The job of our enemy is to incite others to do us harm in an attempt to destroy our faith, or at least give it a good shaking. Can any of us truly say, “Boy, I am sure glad that I rested and trusted God through all of that without any fear”? No, because abuse erodes our faith and trust, even in God and brings us to a life filled with fear. Unless one has survived this type of fear from abuse, they cannot know it. Comparing fear of going to the dentist to the fear we have had of our abuser, just does not cut it.
One point that stood out to me in particular about the story of the Exodus, was the crossing of the Red Sea. The song states it this way:
“You split the sea so I could walk right through it. My fears are drowned in perfect love.
You rescued me and I will stand and sing, ‘I am a child of God’.”
While our abusers chase after us in an attempt to bring us back into bondage, God opens the sea to freedom and allows us to walk right through it, on dry ground. This is a symbolic picture of our deliverance in Christ, from all bondage! Our strength lies only in our God and His ability to do what we simply cannot, which is to gain our freedom. We fight this battle on a spiritual level, just as God’s people did then. We do not fight in the flesh. Our war is in the spirit. We stand and say, I am a child of God and all that entails! We focus on what we know and the truths of God. We put on our fighting gloves (Eph. 6) and make our way through, with Christ before us. The fight looks like this. Always choosing to obey God and allow Him to fight on our behalf. It is recognizing that our enemy, with the abuser’s cooperation, is at work through someone we believed we could trust and who would love us. We become confused and foggy in this, because it is hard to wrap our brains around the fact that we are dealing with someone we married in good faith, not knowing what lay ahead for us.
While it is all too often true that the courts, churches and others, including family, do not deliver justice to victims or their children, we can know and trust that deliverance and freedom that God gives us from living with the abuser is the end goal for us. We can only look to Him for that and ignore sources that would ever advise us to live in bondage to abuse. We may lose everything material on the way and even emotional and physical things in this agonizing process, but our end is deliverance. Our end is knowing we are His and He will perfect that which concerns us.
Exodus 14 speaks of the terror facing God’s people and His direction for how to go through and get away from Pharaoh and his armies.
Fear not. Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord,
which He will work for you today.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:13-14)
As we know, this does not mean that we just sit and wait. We must take action and the necessary steps to freedom from abuse. Remember, God’s people here in this story moved. Their deliverance and freedom from Pharaoh and his armies came that day. But they had lived through a long, long battle in attempting to gain their freedom, prior to this day. They did not sit in their homes and wait, saying “God has put me here, so I must just sit, suffer and stay”. They moved at God’s direction, and there is more than enough biblical evidence for us to know that God wants us to move when living in abuse. They had to move forward and walk through the sea. That was their only hope of being delivered and free. But God set it up. He did the work behind the scenes and as we know, annihilated His and His people’s enemies.
In Exodus 14:14b — you need only to be still — the word rendered ‘still’ can be rendered ‘silent’ or ‘holding your peace’. It can also mean to be deaf or mute. In the context of exiting life with an abuser, it can mean to make yourself deaf to all the noise and turmoil the abuser is hurling at you, or to be silent and not retaliatory. It can also mean to “plow under”. It appears to me the best interpretation for this passage would be to hold your peace in God and to deafen yourself from all the abuser’s attempts to make you think he holds all the power. In reality as a Christian, God holds all power over us as His people. We do not believe in dualism. God and Satan are not equally powerful deities in battle against each other. God has already won. We learn what He has for us in deepening our relationship with Him, when we have to go through the battle (working out our salvation in fear and trembling). God is able to use this evil for our good, to build our faith and trust in Him and to know Him more intimately. Wait for Him to come in like a rushing wind with deliverance on His wings, while you act in faith and remain pursuing your freedom from abuse.
God led me to these passages at the beginning of my departure, now many years ago. At first, I was so afraid that I could only fret. But as time went on, nearing the end when my final exit would come, I knew I could trust Him. Did everything go smoothly? Of course not. When we are dealing with the devil, there will always be turbulence.
the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. (Isaiah 57:20)
Satan comes in like a flood, inciting abusers — with their permission — to never give up tormenting us. But, we are God’s people. We are His chosen. He will deliver us.
In closing, let me just share that I am still in the thick of many things and suffering repercussions from the fallout of decades of abuse. But I know who my God is and I know who I am in Him. I have taken my place in Him and I know that I am no longer a slave to fear. He is true and faithful to His promises and performs all that which He has declared to me to be His nature. I have chosen to trust and remain calm, knowing that He is always good, even when things look incredibly bad. If you can, let that be an encouragement to you, coming from one who has pounded down the path before you.
So, why or how did I come to make this choice? What equipped me?
Because I came to believe and understand – I am a child of God.
This post is written by “IamMyBeloved’s”. Many thanks to her for these words!