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Let God Redeem Your Story Part 1

Moody Church Hour / Pastor Phillip Miller
The Truth Network Radio
September 19, 2021 1:00 am

Let God Redeem Your Story Part 1

Moody Church Hour / Pastor Phillip Miller

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September 19, 2021 1:00 am

Do you ever wish your story could be rewritten? Sexual abuse does terrible damage. Relationships suffer all throughout the victim’s life due to early experiences children should never have. But Christ offers hope for the abused, and even for the abuser. In this message, you can find freedom from your painful past.

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Some of the deepest experiences of life are sexual experiences.

In marriage, they are very fulfilling. But when people are forced into sex, especially when they're young, the scars they bear are often carried throughout life. This shame can damage future relationships and short-circuit an otherwise normal life. Today, help from God's Word on how to triumph over the pain of your past. From Chicago, this is The Moody Church Hour, a weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin Lutzer.

On this broadcast, you'll hear the first of three messages on how to recover from the pain and shame of sexual abuse. Later in our program, Erwin Lutzer will ask those who hurt to let God redeem your story. Pastor Lutzer comes now to open today's service. And we are so glad that you have joined us today for worship, and we hope that you will set aside your heart, so to speak, as we come into God's presence, as we learn together and worship together. Sometimes we forget about the fact that God is not only a God of judgment and mercy, but he is compassionate. What that means in practical terms is that God actually has emotions and he feels.

Of course, this is clearly seen when Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, and Jesus, being the God-man, illustrates what God is like. Would you keep that in mind as we think together about this verse of scripture? As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust.

God knows you through and through and loves you anyway and has compassion for his people. We're going to pray together, and immediately following the prayer, I want you to stand for the scripture reading that is read to us today by Michelle Sargis. But you may now bow your heads. We're going to have a moment of silence because I want you to leave behind all the cares of the world, all the stress that you encountered this morning getting ready for church. And we're going to concentrate on God and his word and his love toward the brokenhearted. Would you join me now as we pray?

Father, all good things come from your hand. And we thank you that in your grace you've given us the opportunity to worship you, to learn from your word, and to be changed by it. Today we pray that you might change many. We pray that you might set captives free. May there be people here who come to saving faith in Christ. May it be a glorious morning that brings honor to you.

We love you. In Jesus' name, amen. I invite you to follow along with me in your bulletin as we read together a portion from Psalm 147.

Please read aloud with me on the bold print. This is God's holy word. Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God.

How pleasant and fitting to praise him. The Lord builds up Jerusalem. He gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power. His understanding has no limit. The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse nor his delight in the power of human legs. The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. In Christ's throne, my hope is found.

He does my life by strength, my song. This quarter stone, this solid ground, work through the fiercest drought and storm. What hides above, what dabs of peace, when fears are still and striving sneeze. My comfort, my hope in all, here in the love of Christ I stand. In Christ alone, who took on flesh, the fullness of God in man this day, this gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones he came to save. To on that cross has Jesus died, that the Father satisfied. Every sin on him was laid, here in the death of Christ I live. There in the ground, his body lay, the light of the world by God this day. He burst forth, for this day, up from the grave he was again.

And as he stands in victory, his birth has lost his kingdom. What a great grace, what a great delight, by the precious blood of Christ. No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me.

From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus breaks my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever blind me from his hand, till he returns, for cause behold, here in the power of Christ I live. No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever blind me from his hand, till he returns, for cause behold, here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Here in the power of Christ I'll stand. God, you are my God, and I will ever praise you. Oh, my, you are my God, and I will ever praise you. I will see you in the morning, and I will learn to walk in your ways. And step by step you'll be me, and I will follow you all of my days. And I will follow you all of my days. And I will follow you all of my days.

And step by step you'll be me, and I will follow you all of my days. Open the eyes. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.

Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you. I want to see you. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.

Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you. I want to see you.

I want to see you high and naked up. Hiding in the light of your glory for out your power and love as we sing, Holy, holy, holy. Holy, holy, holy. Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, I want to see you.

Say that again. Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, I want to see you. Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature, O thou of God and the Son, He will I cherish, He will I honor, Thou my soul's glory, Lord, and mine.

There are the meadows, there is still the woodlands, Woke in the blooming light of the stream. Jesus is fairer, Jesus is pure, Who makes the woeful heart to sing. And you are fairer still today, You are fairer still today, Precious Jesus, Lord, you are adored, As we worship, as we worship, Precious Jesus, Lord, you are adored, As we worship, as we worship.

There is the sunshine, fairer still the blue light, And called the drinking starry rose. Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines cooler, Than all the angels that can boast. And you are fairer still today, You are fairer still today, Precious Jesus, Lord, you are adored, As we worship, as we worship. Precious Jesus, Lord, you are adored, As we worship, as we worship.

Beautiful Savior, Lord of all nations, Son of God and Son of man. Glory and honor, praise that your nation, Now and forevermore be thine. Isn't it good to be worshipping the Lord together this morning?

Yes. Praise God, the Lord of all the saints, Lord, Praise him, all creatures, hear me, Lord, Praise him, almighty and behold, Praise the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. So how are you all doing? Everybody all right? You ready for what God might teach you today? Do you have a heart that is open to him?

Today I begin the message with a quiz that you can answer for yourself. Do you find personal relationships difficult? You long for intimacy but are afraid when you get it? When your weaknesses are pointed out, do you become defensive, angry, blaming others and you pull away from anyone who confronts your issues? Are you fearful of getting close to people because you don't trust them?

And do you find it difficult to trust God? Do you have unfulfilled emotional needs that no one seems to be able to fill? Have you struggled with eating disorders? Are you obsessed with exercise or diet control? Have you experienced many sexual struggles, sexual identity confusion, fear of the opposite sex, same sex attraction or sexual obsessions? Are you angry with yourself and use anger to push others away? Have you wrestled with self-destructive behaviors such as slashing your wrists, carving your skin or pulling out your hair? Do you wrestle with control issues, always wanting to control the people in circumstances next to you? Do you have a problem with anger, rage and intense hostility? Are you living with a secret and you're afraid somebody will find it out? Do you struggle with dissociative disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder?

Are you aware of an evil presence that brings distraction, confusion, hopelessness? If you have answered yes to one or more of those questions, it is possible that you were abused as a child, probably sexually abused. Recently, my wife and I were with some parents, wonderful Christians in Christian work. They told us their story. Their oldest daughter is having a lesbian lifestyle.

How did that happen? Well, years later, far after the abuse occurred, it was discovered that an aunt of theirs had sexually abused all of their daughters, including 14 or 15 other nieces and nephews. The other daughters did not go into lesbianism, but they struggled with intimacy in marriage and they've got all kinds of issues. But the parents didn't know about it till years later. Another story of a young man in a Christian school and he's going to stay with one of the families in the school and the parents think it's a great idea because they have kids that are his own age. He doesn't want to go there.

Parents go on vacation. No, no, you're going to stay there. He cries. But he doesn't tell them why. He's being abused by the father of that home. That, of course, caused his life to spin out of control, attempted suicide, homosexuality and other things that he struggles with. You say, well, Pastor Lutzer, is sexual abuse on the rise?

The answer is yes for a number of reasons. First of all, the proliferation of pornography, but also the broken homes of our society. You have blended families and now you have stepsisters and stepbrothers who look at each other differently. And of course, even within blood families, you find a sexual abuse of various kinds. And so that's the world in which we live. Children that are vulnerable because, you know, they have no one to pay attention to them. They are very vulnerable because they might like the attention, even though it is destructive attention. And so it is as our homes are being broken up and you have stepfathers abusing stepdaughters.

We live in a world where it is almost everywhere. You see, sexual abuse distorts our view of sexuality, where everything then is encased in shame. And there's no understanding to bring wholeness to the situation. It encourages promiscuity because a girl who is sexually molested is twice as likely to become pregnant before marriage. And there are reasons for that.

You can connect your own dots. And so today's message is dealing with this very important topic. And by the way, why didn't the children tell? Well, the answer is number one, they thought to themselves, probably if we went to mom and dad and said, you know what my uncle is doing?

Mom and dad might not have believed them, unfortunately. Parents, I need to say something to you with clarity that I hope you never forget. If your child even makes a suggestion that something improper is going on, you had better take it seriously. I know that there have been instances where there have been false accusations, oftentimes because children have been asked questions in an improper way. But you must take what a child is saying.

They usually do not make up their stories. Parents, listen, you must take every child that is five or six years old. And once they begin to be with others and say to them, if anybody ever touches you improperly, and then you can perhaps go into some detail depending on the age of the child. You come to us if they threaten you.

You come to us immediately. Don't walk, you run and we will welcome you and accept you and love you and deal with the issue. Each and every child needs to be taught that. In today's world, where you have sexual predators roaming our streets and in our homes, they have to be taught that. Another reason, of course, is guilt. They may feel guilty. Maybe they enjoyed it.

There might be some satisfaction that comes to them as a result of all of this stimulation. Thinking of a young woman who was abused by her grandfather. He introduced her to sexuality, but later on, you know, she enjoyed it.

And so, of course, he blamed her for it. You have to understand the profile of an abuser. And I'll give you more details about that next time in the second message in the series, even though it is so critical to understand right here that there is hope for abusers too, as we shall learn in this message and in the next one.

So what we need to do is to realize that God has to have an answer for this, and he does. There's only one passage I want you to turn to today, and it is Psalm 147. Psalm 147, what a beautiful promise that is thrown into God's word.

I say thrown. It shows up here in Psalm 147. It's talking about the exiles of Jerusalem. And it says in verse 2, the Lord builds up Jerusalem, he gathers the outcasts of Israel. And now notice this, he heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names.

What does that have to do with the binding up of your wounds? The psalmist is emphasizing the fact that we're dealing with a God who can do a lot of impossible things. And if God knows stars and names them, do you think he's forgotten your name, your address, and what happened to you?

Not a chance. And so when I go through this message today, I want you to know that you can invite God to go into dark places with you. You don't have to go alone, because the Bible says that the love of God is ever with us, nothing can separate us from his love, even the things that were so maliciously and directly done against you by those who should have been protecting you.

You can go to dark places with God. Now I need to warn you that when God binds up our wounds and when he heals our wounds and binds them up, he also has to touch our wounds if he's going to bind them. Some of you are going to find this message difficult, some of you will want to leave. I have no doubt you'll want to stand up and say I can't take this, I encourage you not to. But if you have to cry, you can just begin to cry where you are if you cry quietly. If the people next to you don't understand, you bring them to me later and I'll straighten them out on a few things, okay?

Let's make that deal. We're going to be very relaxed today, we're going to let the Holy Spirit of God do whatever the Holy Spirit of God wants to do. And so it is important, some of you of course, your abuse has been your calling card. It has justified your anger, your control of others having been sinned against. It has justified your sin against others and you say I might not be ready to give this up.

I am being identified by my abuse and I prefer that identity. That's you, I want you to listen to this message because I'd love to convince you otherwise, but actually I can't force you to do anything. As a matter of fact, I'm going to give you the path that you need to follow, but I can't make you follow it.

And you can't follow it just because you listen to this message, however important the message is, you're going to have to follow it beyond this message and in ways that I shall outline. But in the end, I pray for your wholeness. I pray that captives shall be set free. Those of you who are dealing even with demonic issues of anger and control and blaming and vengeance, we want God to set you free too. As a matter of fact, we believe that today he's going to. You came to church and thought it would just be an ordinary day.

You didn't know that God had a surprise for you when you walked in here this morning. Now, here's what we're going to do. After the message, I'm going to be given an invitation for those of you who would like to have a little bit more instruction from me. I'm going to counsel you as a group and then we have some prayer partners prepared who are willing to pray with you and I shall explain that a little later on. What's necessary for you to know is that nobody is forced to do anything here. Some of you say there's no way that I can go forward in being to be prayed for.

We understand that. But there are others of you, you might say to yourself, Pastor, I've just been waiting for this chance to finally have some further counseling and also to simply have an atmosphere, a safe atmosphere where I can pray, because that's what I'm going to give you an opportunity to do if you come forward. So you be thinking in this message as to whether or not you want to be among those for whom we will have some special instruction and prayer. And of course, even though I'm talking about sexual abuse, some of you are dealing with other issues.

You're recovering from infidelity in your marriage, or maybe it wasn't sexual abuse, but it was verbal and physical abuse. In a sense, we all have to follow the same path, don't we? Are you ready for the journey? You're ready for the journey? Do you want God today to set you free? Father, do it, we pray in Jesus' name.

Amen. Number one in the step in the journey, the past must be acknowledged. The past must be acknowledged.

You say, well, Pastor Lutzer, why? Let bygones be bygones. Well, that's understandable, but if your past is intruding into your relationships, if you find yourself being angry and defensive and perhaps maybe an abuser because you were abused, you had better face up to what happened to you. After all, it is the truth that sets you free and not a false reality that you're living as if to say this wasn't serious. Of course it was serious.

Some of you know how serious it really was. And so what you need to do is to challenge your past. You need to walk in there with God and say, all right, once and for all, I'm going to stare down and find out what happened and deal with what happened. You know, you're only as neurotic as your darkest secrets. And if there's a dark part of you where the Holy Spirit of God has never been allowed to enter, I know that he indwells you as a Christian, but you have said to yourself, there's a dark part of me and I don't want to have to deal with it. I'm saying it's time to shed light on that dark part because light brings healing.

Somebody has said that darkness produces good mushrooms, but not very good flowers. And I want your soul to be producing flowers and not being caught up in simply the darkness that you have. And the truth and the light makes you free.

If you walk in the light as he is in the light, now there's something that all of us need to do, and especially those whose past continues to haunt them and define them. And by the way, for many of you, when I talk about these descriptions, you don't get it because you don't know how difficult you are to live with, do you? Those around you might, but you have justified it.

You have given explanation for it. And you're perfectly fine, thank you. But maybe the Holy Spirit will show you what I need to learn. I'm not fine. You're not fine. I'm not okay. You're not okay.

God is okay, and he's going to help all of us become better okay. Is that okay? So you have to acknowledge the past.

You have to challenge that. Secondly, you mourn the loss. You mourn the loss. You see, when a child has been abused, the child basically shuts down his or her emotions.

They just go on autopilot. And as a result, they need to feel again. They need to be able to feel again and not just simply be a robot going through emotions because they were not allowed to express their emotions as a child. Even if they were caught crying, they might be beaten. One of the things that mourning does, and Jesus said, blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. One of the things that mourning does is it puts you back in touch with reality and your feelings. Somebody said to me that one of the problems with an abused child is there's no place for him or her to cry. There's no place for them to cry.

And they need to be able to cry, and you even as an adult need to be able to cry. Here's what I find when I read the Psalms, and I encourage you to read them often. Oftentimes, David will complain to God.

I mean, very honestly. He'll just let it all hang out. God, where are you? I need you. Things are so bad.

Why don't you show up for me? He'll just pour out his soul, and he'll just lay it all out. And at the end of the Psalm, he says, nevertheless, I will still hope in thee.

You're saying, where in the world does that come from? My friend, grief does two things. First of all, it reminds us that there are some scars that will never be taken away permanently until we get to heaven. Grief reminds us of that, and that's why we cry over what has been done, and it can't be undone. But there's something else that grief does, and that is it gives us hope. And if there's no way for you to really express your grief and to pour out your soul before God, read the book of Lamentations. Lamentations is a book that was written by Jeremiah. It is filled with tears over the destruction of Jerusalem.

I wish I had time this morning to take you there and to show you how all of his innards are spilled out there in his tears. There's nothing wrong with grieving the loss. You lose an arm, you grieve, you lose your childhood, you grieve. Grieve over what could have been. Don't be afraid of grief.

Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Third, and this is absolutely crucial, of course, everything that I'm saying today is crucial, but third, you must understand grace. You must understand grace.

Now, I'm going to speak to those of you who were abused. This is your tendency. Your tendency is to so focus on the sins of others that you overlook your own. And no matter how your sins might be pointed out, you're continually saying, yeah, but I didn't do that. And so your focus is on somebody else's sin.

At this point, I'm talking about your own because we are all sinners. And if you have been sinning against others because you have been sinned against, you and I have a lot to forgive. I have a lot that God has to forgive, and I suspect that you do too. But when it comes to forgiveness, people make one huge mistake. What is the major mistake when it comes to forgiveness?

It is thinking that they have to become worthy of it. If I could just be worthy of it and tell God, well, you know, I'm bad, but I'm not as bad as so-and-so, if I could just do that, maybe then I'd experience forgiveness. You come to God like that and you'll continue your obsessions because that's not the basis of forgiveness. The interesting thing is that in the New Testament, forgiveness is totally a free gift independent of your performance. That is what grace, it is totally undeserved. It is the kind of gift that God gives to us, and that's our calling card when we want to knock on the door of heaven. When you get onto a plane, the stewardess doesn't say, well, now, you know, are you worthy to fly? Have you had a good day?

Have you had your devotions today? That's not what the stewardess is interested in, the flight attendants of today. What they want to know is the ticket is your authenticity, and God says you have Jesus who died in your place, and that is the answer to your neurosis and your guilt. Whether you are an abuser or abused, the answer is the same. Jesus died for horrendous sinners.

That's the answer. In fact, the Bible says very clearly that we are justified by his blood. We are redeemed by his blood.

And then don't you like this? Revelation chapter 1, verse 7, now unto him who washed us from our sins in his own blood. It's all a gift. You come to God exactly as you are. Luther was absolutely right when he said, oh, Jesus, I am thy sin, thou art my righteousness. Once you understand that Jesus died in your place, if you were abused as a child, even if you felt guilt because you participated, and the way in which you did, the answer is the same for you. It's the same for all of us, because there is only one way to be freed forever, and that is to accept the work that Jesus did and receive it by faith and by grace. You know what I've been praying for you this week?

I've been praying that you will feel the forgiveness of God to the very depths of your being so that you don't have to live in that purgatory of despair, wondering where you live with God, that you will feel it deeply. And as for those of you who are abusers, you too can receive that grace, though I'm going to have more to say to you in the next message. And the next message in this series is about a woman whose story was not redeemed, whose story was not redeemed. By the way, this title, I wish I could take credit for it, it was given to me. Rebecca and I were having lunch with a couple that began an organization for those who were abused, and she said, we just help people to let God redeem their story.

And I said, what a fantastic title this is. Let God redeem your story. And so next time we'll talk about somebody who didn't let God redeem her story and what we can learn about our own story being redeemed. You've got to understand grace. God's reach is as far as sin reaches. And where sin abounds, grace abounds more. And you sin and God can heap up grace to cover it.

And you must grab that or you will never have the settled assurance. I stand in the presence of God forgiven. Isn't that great? Isn't that great that we stand in the presence of God forgiven? Next is a little bit more difficult. You must now practice forgiveness. Now that you've understood it, now you've got to practice it. I wish I could say that your abuser is going to come to you and say, oh, would you forgive me for the terrible things I've done?

I'll tell you, that doesn't happen very often. As we shall see next time, abusers justify, rationalize, deny. So what are you going to do?

That's my question. You're going to hang on to your desire for revenge? Are you going to say to yourself, I am owed justice? My friend, always remember that being willing to give up your revenge and your anger is not in any way a minimizing of the sin that has been given to you and happened to you. The Bible just simply tells us to commit it to God. Vengeance is mine, God says. I will repay, says the Lord.

And so what you need to do is you really need to get rid of that. And getting rid of it, you know, someone has said that holding on to your revenge is something like you drinking poison and then you are expecting your abuser to die. Well, he's not going to be affected by the fact that you are drinking poison.

He or she is not going to be affected by that. You will be. I know that forgiveness is both an act and a process. It is not something that you just say, well, you know, I casually forgive.

Yeah, yeah, you say that as an act. And then you begin to live it out. And when it comes back, you affirm its forgiveness. You say, I'm not going to keep revisiting this and going back to this because I have forgiven.

God knows. And in the process, the healing continues. But do not live with bitterness. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and evil speaking be put away from you, the apostle Paul says. And be tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, forgave you.

Your abuser will probably not ask for it. But you need to be free and give it to God and pour it out at the foot of the cross. So we have to practice forgiveness. Next, we have to rewrite, rewrite your story. There's a woman who wrote a book about this. She used the Beatitudes to rewrite her story. Now, let me give you some information here that's transforming.

All the information actually that I'm giving to you today is transforming. But what you need to do is to reprogram your mind. Your mind that just plays the same tape over and over and over again. Have you ever had that at a tape recorder or the old records? They were the ones. There was a groove in them. And they just used to play the same lines over and over and over again. You young people, just to explain that there was a time when people actually used records.

I know that dates me, but I even remember it. And that's being played in your mind over and over again. The vengeance, the anger, the justification for your behavior, it's all there being played. You need to reprogram your mind. And you do it through the washing of water through the Word.

So that you are reading the Psalms. You are memorizing Scripture. You are saying to yourself, I will no longer be defined by what happened to me. I will be defined because I belong to Jesus.

I belong to a new family. I have a Father in Heaven who understands and who has compassion. And I will believe that. Oh, for some of you that's difficult to believe, but God has his purposes in all things as to what happened to you. And that I am going to begin to think of myself and have my mind renewed by the Word of God so that I begin to think different thoughts and be reprogrammed. The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit and the joints and marrow.

And is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart. By it, we are healed. By it, we are instructed.

By it, we are given hope. If you're languishing today because of your past and you are not reading the Word of God and cleansing your mind and meditating and memorizing on things that are positive and helpful and that help you to understand who you really are in Christ, no wonder you continue in your neurosis. No wonder you do that because your mind needs to be renewed. Do that for six weeks, two months, three months and you'll begin to notice a remarkable difference.

And you know what? The people that you live with will even notice a difference. Because when we are changed, remember, we impact others by that change. Finally, and there's more that could be said, you have to establish healthy relationships. You see, you have to establish healthy relationships because you know, you do need a safe place. A place where you can trust again. A place where you can feel again. And that's what you need.

You really do. And you know, those of you who are battling specifically evil spirits because of what has happened to you and there's this whole struggle within you of evil and there's a presence there. Let me remind you that evil has been decisively defeated thanks to Jesus. Who disarmed.

Who disarmed all principalities and powers and made a show of them openly, triumphing over the minute and saying, here's the victory. I love this illustration. The serpent has been taken.

And just imagine a serpent and you're taking the heel of your boot and you're just taking his head and you're just grinding it like that into the gravel. That's what Jesus did when he died on the cross. If you think you have to be bound, you're believing a lie.

Jesus won that victory for you too. We're not asking you to do the impossible here. We are asking you to simply believe the impossible. And God will do it. God will do it. People need to be validated. I wrote two books.

Actually, it's more than that. But I wrote one entitled Dory the Girl Nobody Loved. Dory Vanstone came into our lives. She became a close friend. I wrote up her story. When I wrote up that story, she had not told me that she was sexually abused in the orphanage in California. She had only told me about old abuse in the foster homes because she couldn't handle that yet. When we wrote the second book, No Place to Cry, she confessed to me what happened in the orphanage. I turned away and had to get out my handkerchief and took off my glasses because I couldn't stop the tears that were beginning to drip onto my cheeks.

I forgot about that. After all, I was doing a book with her and so that was just part of the discussion. Years later, years later, she said, you know, the fact that you felt so deeply and those tears helped me just a little bit more on my journey toward wholeness because somebody validated what happened to her and took it seriously. And I'm not saying for a moment that I was able to feel what she felt as a child. I could visualize it, but I didn't have that kind of a childhood. I went to bed without crying at night.

She did virtually every night. And so what we need to do is to validate people. Now, here's what we're going to do.

In a few moments, I'm going to give an invitation, as I mentioned. And we're going to ask you to come here and I'm going to be standing up here and I want to shake hands with everybody who comes down today and I don't know whether or not it's going to be a lot of people or a few people or no people. Hey, it's all up to God. This isn't our business.

It's God's business. Whatever he wants to do, that's what we want to be available to do. And then some members of the pastoral staff and Mary Welchel, they're going to be up here with me and they're going to direct all those that come into a counseling room behind me. And if more come, we have more prayer partners, elders for the men and deaconesses for the ladies, and I'm going to invite them to come as well depending on the response that we see today because I have no idea how this is going to turn out. And then afterwards, immediately after I've been shaking hands and giving some instruction as we sing the last song, I'm going to be walking off into the counseling room, give you a few more suggestions of how to come to God, and then open it up just for you to pray.

You have to talk to God. And you can just pray for as long as you want to pray, though I will be ending it shortly after, giving you enough time depending on how we sense the Spirit working. And then before you leave, I want you to talk to a prayer partner. The prayer partners do not have any wisdom to impart to you except encouragement. They are there primarily to simply validate you, to hear as much of your story as you are willing to tell them, bits and pieces, as much as you are willing to share or as little as you are willing to share or none. They're there, though, for you because what they want to do is to individually pray for you.

We want everybody who comes forward to have been prayed for. But before we sing together, I have one more story, and that is the story of Samantha. Samantha is 45 years old.

She's an expert musician, beautiful, but having a whole lot of difficulties in relationships, sexually confused. The fact is that Samantha was abused by her father, emotionally totally shut down, just basically a robot. A counselor said, Samantha, I need to help you to get in touch with your feelings because after all, you know, you do have feelings. And the counselor got her to find a picture when Samantha was three years old. And the counselor said, this was before the abuse began. She said, yes, the abuse began when she was about five. He said, write a poem regarding you there as a three-year-old.

This is what Samantha wrote. Who will cry for this little girl? Who will quiet her tears of pain? Who will reach for this little girl who will shelter her from the rain? Please won't you hold me and just let me cry, say words of comfort and wipe my sad eyes?

Please don't you play or just spend some time because being with me would be very fine. I hear words of anger and I try to hide, but the words are so cutting and they hurt deep inside. I long for attention and for someone to care. I feel like that's bad, so I hide in despair. I've learned to be strong, but I feel very weak. Oh, Lord, help me find the wholeness I seek. I don't pretend today to say that all that you have to do is come forward. For many of you, it's beginning.

For others of you who are on your journey, it's another step toward wholeness, but I pray for the wholeness that you will seek. Are you ready? Let's pray. Let's sing. I'll be here. Pastor Hutts is going to close the service today because I want to be with those who come forward and I will give instructions if others have to come forward. Father, take these brief words and do with them as you will, but we pray that captives shall be freed today and that this terrible sin will not only be forgiven, but there might be healing in people's souls. We pray these things in Jesus' blessed name.

Amen. Would you stand, please, as we conclude with the concluding hymn. On today's Moody Church Hour, Dr. Erwin Lutzer spoke on Let God Redeem Your Story, the first of three messages on overcoming the pain of sexual abuse.

Next week, join us for part two. All three parts of Let God Redeem Your Story can be yours on CD for a gift of any amount to The Moody Church Hour. Call 1-800-215-5001. Let us know you'd like to support Dr. Lutzer's ministry.

Our thank you CD album with three messages might shed light into the life of someone you know who is hurting. Call 1-800-215-5001, or you can write to us at The Moody Church, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Online, go to moodyoffer.com. That's moodyoffer, all one word,.com. Join us next week for another Moody Church Hour with Dr. Erwin Lutzer and the Congregation of Historic Moody Church in Chicago.
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