Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Power of Radical Obedience (Part 1)

What is obedience? It's doing what God asks us to do even when we really don't want to. Not because we understand His reasons, not because we feel particularly well-suited to the task, and not because there's no one else on the planet who could do it. For those of us who choose to be obedient, why then do we do it? Simply because we love the Lord.

"If you love me, obey my commandments." (John 14:15)

Last week, God told me that it was time to take my personal ministry to the next level. He asked me to do what is without a doubt the hardest thing He has ever asked of me. My heart wanted to say "Yes", but my flesh was crying out "Why me, Lord?" I soon realized that it didn't matter why God wanted me to do it. Who am I to question Him anyway? But once I committed to radical obedience, He made it clear to me exactly what I was to do and why. Part of this process involves journaling my progress here. It is my ardent prayer that although this may seem difficult to some, and insane to others, that someone will benefit from what I'm about to do.

In February 1979, I was 19 years old. On a cold, snowy Thursday night, while returning home from an evening sorority meeting, I was abducted at gunpoint by 2 men as I was getting out of my car in front of my house. It's surreal in retrospect that as one of the men held a gun to my head and forced me into their car, I assumed that they were kidnapping me. I started to cry and told them that my parents had just divorced and neither of them had any money. It didn't take long for me to realize that kidnapping was not at all what they had in mind.

I learned much later that they had recently been laid off by the construction company that was building homes in my subdivision, and that night they had been headed to the construction trailor to break in and rob and/or vandalize it. However, when they saw me in my car having difficulty navigating through the deep ice and snow up the steep hill that led to my mother's townhouse, they decided that it would be much more fun to terrorize a young girl.

Without going into all the ugly details, let it suffice to say that I was sexually assaulted by both men at gunpoint. After fighting among themselves about whether I should live or die since I could identify them, the "ring-leader" agreed to let me live, but only if the other guy got me out of the car immediately. I was gagged and bound with my tights and thermal underwear, and thrown, naked and bleeding, out of a moving car. I crawled through a foot of ice and snow to the nearest townhouse with a light on and prayed to God that a woman would answer the door, and she did.

Although I didn't realize it at that moment, He'd answered another prayer as well. The entire time that the attack was taking place, I kept praying that if I survived, that He would give me a way help the police find the men who'd done this. I saw and memorized the license plate number as the car sped away. In fact, 27 years later, I still remember that license plate number. As it turned out, that was the only way the police were able to identify my attackers.

Fast forward one and a half years to the trial. There were plenty of surprises. I learned that the primary attacker was married, had a girlfriend, and was a serial rapist. As horrific as my experience was, it seemed mild compared to the accounts I heard of his other rapes. Mine was the only one in whch he had an accomplice. Because that accomplice fought for my life, and then turned state's evidence when he was arrested, forgiving him wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I believe he was responsible for saving me from a fate that was much worse.

Now the other guy was another story. I was terrified of him, I hated him, and I didn't think I'd ever forgive him for what he did to me. Because of him I felt dirty, I felt broken and I didn't feel like I'd ever be whole again. But I knew that I had to pull myself together. I'd been an honor roll student, I had big plans for graduate school and was looking forward to a promising career. I refused to be a victim. I was determined to be a survivor.

Sadly, I was so busy being a survivor that I never really dealt with what happened. I found myself on auto-pilot through the rest of college, grad school, high-paced and highly stressful corporate jobs, numerous chronic and unexplainable illnesses, 4 marriages and 4 divorces, major depression and a host of stress-related problems. Only recently did God reveal to me that although I had made one poor choice after another, many of those choices and their consequences were due at least in part, to the aftermath of unresolved emotions stemming from the rape.

So here I am today, 27 years and a new life in Christ later, ready to face my past head on. It's time to stop being a victim and truly be a survivor, not in myself, but in Christ. In case you haven't figured it out by now, God told me to forgive my rapist... not merely to "say" that I forgive him, but to truly and sincerely forgive him and to pray for his salvation. He even told me to make a prayer shawl (lap quilt) for him! Needless to say, I was stunned. I did all I could to convince myself that I was mistaken, that surely God wouldn't ask me to do that, but not only did He ask me to do it, but He convicted my heart so much that I haven't thought of much else for the past week.

Even though He's convicted my heart, this is still no easy task. I nearly cried while walking around Michael's looking for yarn. The fact that this is for a man limits the color choices substantially, but more than that, what color yarn goes with the decor of a prison cell? I finally decided that grey was a safe, masculine color. Here's a picture of what I chose.

Then there was the question of how I'd ever find him. I knew where he went when he was first sentenced, but I wasn't sure if he was still there. God told me to look on the internet and in less than 10 minutes, I'd found him. He's in a maximum-security federal penitentary, and yes, he will be in prison for the rest of his life. Considering that he is only 51 now, that could be quite some time.

So now I have the yarn and I know how to get it to him (securely, of course, so that he doesn't know where I am). Next was the issue of praying for his salvation. I just didn't know how I'd be able to do that. My best friend and sister-in-Christ thought it would be helpful for me to see the HBO series, Oz, about life in a maximum-security penitentary. She bought me the entire first season on DVD. It has been extremely difficult to watch. I knew life in prison was horrible, but I didn't realize how horrific it really is. Please don't misunderstand, considering that my attacker was a violent serial rapist, I believe that his sentence was just. But I must admit that it has been much easier to pray for his salvation having seen some of Oz and realizing that he's spent nearly 10,000 days there already. Imagine, 10,000 days and counting! Only God's grace and mercy can overcome a hell on earth like prison.

I found the perfect prayer in a small book that I purchased at a recent Joyce Meyer Ministries conference. It's called "Pray for Our Nation: Scriptural Prayers to Revive Our Country". No author is listed, but it's based on the KJV version of the Bible. I would highly recommend this little book. Here's the prayer that I'm praying every day for the man who raped me:

"Father, I know that you are not willing that any should perish but desire that all should come to repentenance. Therefore I am praying for K.T. and lifting him up to you today.

Satan, I command you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to take your hands off this person and to cease and desist in your maneuvers against him.

Dear Father and Lord of the harvest, I claim K.T. for Your kingdom and pray that you would send someone across his path to whom he can listen to and relate to.

Lord, I ask in the name of Jesus that You would give that laborer words that K.T. cannot deny, so that the light of the glorious gospel would shine unto K.T. and he will believe and be saved.

For all this I give You thanks in Jesus' wonderful name.


I guess it's time to start crocheting now. I'll be posting pictures and more of my thoughts and revelations during the process. By God's grace, I'll be able to do this. I thank Him in advance for the healing that's in store for both K.T. and for me!


Shelley said...

Thank you for your obedience to the Lord. I'm sure it will be hard for you to do this, but you have God on your side and He is there to lean on through out this. The best thing you can do is to be obedient to Him...blessings will follow :o)

Rebecca said...

WOW! By God's grace you will be able to do this and He will receive the glory for it because from a human perspective it seems absolutely impossible. Forgiveness is a wonderful, wonderful gift and I will pray that you will no longer be held captive by this horrific thing that happened to you. We serve a wonderful and awesome GOD....may He continue to enable you to do this so that you will be a little further along that road of sanctification. Remember that our citzenship is not here on earth but with each passing day, as we obey Christ, we are becoming more and more like Him. That day will come when, either we meet Him in the sky or He comes to take us home, we will be transformed completely into His image. MAY HE BLESS YOUR JOURNEY!

Mary said...

Such an ordeal you endured and have carried as a burden all these years. Cling to the promise of Matthew 11:28. And with His help, this act of courage of yours will help to fully release that burden.

By the way, have you ever heard of the Kairos Prison Ministry? I hear it's incredibly powerful.