That’s what grace is for: reflections on the ABC News 20/20 IFB Report.
I had a whole different post completely written up and ready to post, but I was listening to some music and the Lord spoke to my heart. So you’re getting this version instead…
If you have read my Statement of Faith or my About the Author pages, you know that I am an Independent Fundamental Baptist (or rather, IFB, as many call it) – and I make no apology for it. Naturally, when I first heard about this whole ABC News 20/20 Report on IFB Churches I was slightly infuriated. I know, anger is not of the Lord. So in an effort to be “angry and sin not” (Eph. 4:26a), I kept my mouth shut about it for a couple days, let myself simmer down, watched the report for myself, and read several other articles on the matter.
This is my first attempt to talk about it… well, second attempt if you count the first note I wrote and opted not to post.
Instead of voicing my disapproval (not that it matters) for the way this situation was handled in the news report, and instead of trying to set the record straight on behalf of IFB churches who do not fall into the “rapist/molesters/abusers” category, I have an open letter for Tina Anderson.
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I’m sorry. I’m sorry you were hurt. I’m sorry that men who were supposed to be your protectors became your preditors. I don’t know what it’s like to be betrayed in that manner – molested and raped – so I can’t say that I feel your pain or understand what you went through.
I’m sure the days were hard. I’m sure that the day-to-day struggle drained you – emotionally and physically. And I can only imagine that you wanted to throw in the towel and simply give up on life. You have had to relive those days over and over again with every memory flashback that appeared in your mind; it’s as if you’ve been trapped in a prison of your memory for the past 13 years. How many nights did you cry yourself to sleep? How many times did you ask God why He allowed such hideous things to happen to you?
I’d like to share something with you that happened in my family many years ago…
My grandfather was murdered. The bullet paralized him from the neck down, and he struggled to live for a short time after he was shot. Before he died though, he was able to identify his killer to the police from his hospital bed. My dad, being the rough-and-tumble man that he was, told my grandfather that he could kill the murderer if grandpa wanted him to – all he had to do was say the word. With all the strength he could muster, this is what grandpa said to my dad: “Son, if you do that, he will not only have gotten me, but he will have gotten you too.”
The killer went to prison, grandpa died, and within two years my dad buried 18 of the people he loved most – including his brother and his best friend. Several years have past since then, and my dad realized that if he allowed bitterness and hatred to build up in his heart, it would destroy him and his family without having the slightest affect on the one the emotions were targeted at.
Bitterness is poison to the human heart. It poisons the heart from wence it comes, and has enormous affects on those closest to said heart. And the larger it grows, the more it destroys. The Bible said it best in Hebrews 12:15 - “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” It’s not always easy to forgive; it’s even harder to forget — impossible, even. It’s hard. It hurts.
You have a beautiful family now – your children are precious. I wonder if you’ve told them what mommy went through when she was a little girl? Do they know? Have they seen the hurt in your eyes as you replay your childhood? Have they heard the bitterness in your voice as you talk about your IFB upbringing? Thirteen years later, has Ernie gotten your family as well?
Answers. We always want answers. We want to know why… we need to have explanations! But sometimes God is silent in His replies. He doesn’t always give us His reasoning why He allowed certain things. One of my favorite quotes is this:
“…But faith sits down before mysteries such as these, and says, ‘The Lord is good, therefore all that He does must be good, no matter how it looks, and I can wait for His explanations.’” ~ H.W. Smith
The Lord is good, and He’s so faithful. And though it may hurt more than words could ever express, we must remember that nothing happens in our lives before it first slides across God’s desk and gets stamped with His permission. That includes heartbreak. That includes murder. That includes rape.
The past is said and done now. Nothing you do or say will go back and undo what’s happened. But nothing that has happened to you cannot be forgiven. Sometimes I forget that my sin caused the Saviour’s crucifixion just as much as the sin of the man sitting in prison did. Yet no matter how bad, how gross, how hurtful – the blood of Christ is strong enough to cleanse the sinner and wipe out sin stains forever. The same blood that covers you and I, covers the vilest of men when he calls upon the Name of Jesus Christ.
Your story, in it’s many variations, has been repeated throughout history: Joseph, Bathsheba, Tamar, Corrie Ten Boom, and so many more. Each story different, yet each story the same. Different because of the people and actions involved; the same because of the end-result that grace has.
I am thankful that, after all that you have gone through, you have kept your faith in the Lord. I’ve seen people go through much less and walk away from their faith. Keep holding on to Him. He’ll mend your broken heart; walk through mercy’s door — that’s what grace is for.
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Posted on April 13, 2011, in Open Letter and tagged 20/20 Report, ABC News, Bitterness, Church, Forgiveness, IFB, Independent Fundamental Baptist, Molestation, Open Letter, Pastors, Rape, Sin, Tina Anderson. Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.