This following post is adapted from Ps Cathie Clancy's message on Sun 5th August, at the C3 Oxford Falls 10am service. Watch the service here.
Lord, you are my secret hiding place,
protecting me from these troubles,
surrounding me with songs of gladness!
Your joyous shouts of rescue release my breakthrough.
Pause in his presence
I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you,
instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life.
I will advise you along the way
and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide.
So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn
when I take you where you’ve not been before.
Don’t make me tug you and pull you along.
Just come with me!”
We all have a life story to tell and the longer we live the more complex our stories can be. Cathie likes to think of every complexity she has overcome as “notches in her belt”. She shared a particular part of her story of discovering freedom from abuse through God as her deliverer, restorer and redeemer.
The statistics on those who have experienced trauma are staggering but, just like Cathie, Jesus is the one who will help us find freedom.
God sings over us and it is not a sad song He sings but one of joy, breakthrough and triumph (Zephaniah 3:17) When we are vulnerable with God about any trauma we’ve experienced He won’t hurt us but wants to pour healing into our wounds.
The enemy's plans for us are to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus’ plan is that we are free (John 10:10)
Each one of us is born with a destiny and a purpose, known by God in our mother’s womb. Cathie was born a carefree singer and dancer. At the early age of 7 or 8 however, doors started to open for Cathie into the world of sex -its addictions and misuse filled the street she lived on. Early exposure and molestation brought so much shame that she withdrew from the world. For her, family meant pain and so she spent most of her time alone with her cat.
Cathie is sure that someone was praying for her because at the age of 15 light came into her world. An evangelist was invited to her high school and shared his story of salvation while in prison. He shared about the Father’s love and Cathie responded by coming after the assembly to hear more. God sees us, even when we’re in a crowd and reaches out to us. Cathie received Jesus into her life and all the shame she had been experiencing was lifted. When Jesus came, He made Himself of no reputation and took all our guilt and shame upon Himself -this is the good news of the gospel.
Experiencing the Love of a Heavenly Father
For Cathie, the manifest evidence of this spiritual change in her life was a wave of love for her dad. For years she had blamed him for all the trauma that had befallen her and now she felt like hugging him. This love was God’s love in her, far beyond her capabilities to love. She wrote her dad a letter in which she said after meeting Jesus, how could she not forgive and release him for the past. Her dad never said anything about the letter and she continued on her journey.
Cathie encouraged us to get water baptised and connected into small groups because when we are alone, it is easy for the enemy to derail us. There is safety in being a part of a church with leadership and discipleship. Cathie and her friends didn’t have this safe community and while they ministered in the local nursing home and ran around proclaiming Jesus to people, they lacked guidance on living life as a Christian. She fell pregnant to a youth leader at a place they visited sometimes. Her dad kicked her out of home and she had to go on forgiving him. She married the youth leader but it was far from a dream wedding. Her dad gave her away -and then left the church. The marriage only lasted 18 months and then she and the baby were back home.
Cathie had been saved at 15 but Jesus was not her Lord, she was still lost. But over time God moved: she met and married Brendan, another singer and dancer, who became a father to her daughter (now they are grandparents too). Her dad softened as they continued to keep contact and pray. All the good fruit in their lives came from God. Then Cathie’s dad became ill and died. Weeks later she looked in his wallet and the only thing in it was her letter. There is no one who cannot be reached by God, the story of Saul the murderer becoming Paul the Apostle in the Bible, reminds us of this. Forgiveness flows when God is in our lives, allowing us to let go and be empowered for the future.
Cathie read out her list of “I am” statements. We should all write such a list of who we are in Christ to shut up our inner critic. Cathie included things like:
- I am blessed to be a blessing
- I am a minister
- I am filled with wisdom
- I am dearly loved by my family
- I am celebrated and cherished by my husband
- I am anointed
- I will finish my race in faith.
Something to talk about:
- How does Cathie’s story of growing over the years encourage you to persevere or get connected?
- Who are you praying for, for light to come into their world?
- In your own time write a list of “I am” statements.