The One in Ninety-nine


I don’t remember most of the dream. I just remember there was a lion in it. I can’t remember exactly, but I think it was about to consume me. I woke up with a gasp and a cold sweat, and in that one breath, I cried out for God to get me out of my situation. I laid there in the dark, next to a man I was not married to, begging God to deliver me.

It was not a situation I ever dreamed myself in nor I ever wanted. I saved myself 26 years for the man I hoped to marry one day. In my 27th year, that was all taken from me, and I put myself in that situation. It was all gone in one moment and I felt lost with it. I couldn’t cry. I just felt done. I wasn’t even attracted to him. Not to be mean, but he had nothing to commend himself. He just made me feel not alone. It was an accidental meeting during a dark time, not just for me but for my family. As I witnessed my family falling apart, I wandered. I wandered to wherever I could find some sense of acceptance and belonging. I couldn’t find it in church. I couldn’t find it at school. I couldn’t find it at home.

I believed in God. I believed in Jesus. I knew He was real and always knew my life was to be devoted to Him. So what happened? As I held onto God with one hand, I held onto my heart with the other. I wasn’t willing to entrust it to Him. I had, throughout my life, been subject to a lot of rejection and I had become protective of my heart to the point I couldn’t even let it go even to the care of the Lord. I yearned for love and didn’t believe that God could or would bring someone for me nor did I believe that anyone worth my love and devotion could ever love me. Let alone believe that God, Himself, loved me.

So this man, who would never say he loved me, was who I centered my affection on. He dangled marriage in front of my face just enough to keep me at his disposal. After all, living in a sinful relationship wasn’t what I ever desired.

All the while, I sank further and further into darkness. I stopped praying. I knew I had no right to come to the Lord, choosing the path I had taken. I didn’t speak to friends or family anymore. I went to school and came straight back “home” and waited for him. He would, in turn, leave me on the weekends to go be with someone else. He didn’t like me talking to anyone else, so I didn’t. I quit going to church. I think the most painful part, as I look back now, is how I felt like I couldn’t go to my Father. Just like Adam and Eve, I hid in shame from the God who sees everything from the beginning to the end.

I wanted to leave, but couldn’t gather the strength. I messed everything up! Where would I go? Bottom line, I wasn’t willing, yet, to hand over to God the responsibility of caring for my heart.

Until that night. It wasn’t immediate, but three weeks later, God took that man out of my life. It wasn’t immediate relief. I was convinced I loved him; it felt like a piece of me was torn off. I lay awake crying as if my life was ending. It drove me, though, to reach up. I began going back to my Father for help. I began reading the Word once again, only this time, with a deprived thirst. I remember every time I delved into prayer or the Bible,  there was a peace that I physically felt. It was like a cooling quench over my heart. I began to strengthen. I began to stand again, but I still had that grip on my own heart.

Someone else came along not too long after that. I didn’t want him either, but I didn’t want to be alone and I felt like used goods on top of that. I had no desire, though, to live in a sinful relationship. So, against my inner warnings not to, I married him.

The abuse was worse. I often wondered, during my most painful and fearful moments of my marriage, if I would have been better off with the previous guy. Not wanting to sin again and divorce, I had no choice to rely wholly on God. I did my best to go to church and serve God along with grow in my difficult situation. After my son was born, things escalated to where I no longer had the strength, even though I prayed for it, to stay. Much to my shame, I messed up again. I moved in, along with my son, with my mom and filed for divorce.

The five years after that were hard. Lots of tears, lots of reaching out, lots of healing took place. However, I finally learned to give my heart over completely to God’ to let Him do with as He willed. I had His Grace pour over me like a soothing ointment. The wonder of His deliverance and forgiveness of all my sin in gratitude gave me a new drive to live for Him, to love Him, and to be more and more like Him.

Letting go of my heart and holding onto Him with both hands allowed Him in return to cradle me in His loving care. I gave Him complete control of my life and even when it was hard and I wanted to revert back to my old ways, He remained by my side and, like a strong, loving Father, protected me.

There is so much more to this than what I’m able to write in one blog post. In time, I will share more. The reason I’m delving into such a personal story is that there are people right now who are holding onto God with one hand, but with the other have a grip on something else. You feel its tension as God and your sin are pulling in opposing directions. But you’re too afraid to let go. Is it because you’re afraid of what will happen to you if you give your life completely over to Him? Let me assure you that even during the tears and the hardships, there is healing and growth. I never once looked back nor wanted to return to the darkness I lived in. God is good and faithful. He loves you more than any person ever could. He satisfies more than any habit or anything ever could.

I truly believe that being stretched between God and your sin can only lead to a slow, exhausting death of your soul. It’s not about being good, it is about being free from sin which only leads to death and destruction. It’s about living life in abundance as Jesus promised allowing Him to amplify your life so the world can see and know He is real and alive. It isn’t enough to play church. You can’t be used by God if your grip is on something else. How is that shining a light?

It’s time to let go and place both hands on God. It’s time to seek out those who will help you and stand with you. It’s time to let your life shine as He intended.

~Janean

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