”To stop pursuing God’s vision in your life because of an offence (or any other reason), in reality you are simply saying that ‘I never really believed in that vision in the first place.’”
~ Artur Pawlowski ~
Last Friday morning, February 8, I sat down at my computer, to pick out a new name. A name I need. I decided it was time to trade in my name, “Trudy — Beloved Warrrior”, for something less demanding. I searched name meanings and found my new name. “Saranya (Surrendered) Olivia (Peace) Rochelle (Rest).”
Saranya Olivia Rochelle… Yep… that has a nice ring to it. Besides, it’s much more fitting for someone who is tired of war. And, with that, I ‘laid down my sword’. Warrior princess no more. A new name, a new identity. A new life….
I opened the daily Bible reading several hours ago…. something I had neglected for days. The words in those verses were like a blood transfusion to a dying heart. They were not new words, in fact, it was the familiarity that created the impact, creating a lifeline.
The weeks leading up to this moment had created spiritual anaemia that left me so weak, there were moments I thought the life was literally draining from me.
It all began about a month ago. Well, technically it began many years ago, when I was a toddler, and a lie formed in my mind. The lie that I need to take care of myself, because no one else will. That lie was strengthened just before I turned seven, when my father threatened to kill my mom, and then us children. I stopped trusting people that day.
My relationship with God, from that day forward, and for many years, became one of ‘need based trust’. In other words, ‘I’ll trust You when I’ve exhausted every other option’ kind of trust. Mostly it came into play when I faced violence and death threats in childhood and teen years, and then, later, when I faced sickness and had several near-death encounters. Apart from those things, and salvation, I didn’t have a trust-based relationship with God.
Gradually I learned to trust Him more, in the day to day, as I got to know Him more. And I even learned to trust people more, at a deep level, without trusting naively. I’m talking the kind of trust that allows them to make mistakes, even sin against me. It’s the kind of trust that forgives quickly, and offers second chances, without being a door mat.
Trust that chooses to believe noble intent when people fail. It’s been a painful growing journey, and I was doing pretty good. At least I thought I was.
About a month ago there was a shift in my heart. I didn’t notice it immediately, but it didn’t take long. I felt a gradual change come over me; one I couldn’t identify until I was in too deep. Or, maybe, in hindsight, I was too afraid to identify it.
I found myself living in fear in a way I have not, for many years. The gap between ministry income, which is almost none, compared to our obligations with raising a family started to take my focus off of my calling. At every turn, it seemed, the demands were rising, with the enemy using the shortfall to taunt me, as if blowing raspberries in my face and letting me know that God was not and could not provide.
After all, even Christians and churches, in general, don’t seem to understand ministry to the abused, the victimized, the broken. Are they not a direct reflection of God in the world?
And that is how I found myself in a panic, feeling abandoned by God–yet keenly aware of His call. Little by little I pieced it together. I don’t trust God. The thought almost startled me when it first came to me.
I thought I had ‘attained’ that one. I could list a thousand ways I trust Him. When I walk into ‘hellish’ situations, I have no fear that He is not there, going before me, my Shield and Protector. When someone sits across from me, and shares some demonic encounter, or another, or confesses to suicidal temptations, or murderous thoughts, I remain calm. I confidently tell the individuals that nothing is too big for God. And I say it, because I truly believe it. I trust God that way. He’s worked in me, so I can testify to it without any questions.
But as I contemplated it more, I realized I really don’t trust God to provide for me. I’ve always carried that as a weight on my own shoulders. It was the one thing about moving into ministry that frightened me. I pushed that fear down, and assumed that would resolve it, but it didn’t. There’s always that heart issue that God is after, and that was a door I was carefully standing in front of, and telling God He’s not allowed in.
I’m embarrassed the extent to which that fear went. Really embarrassed, if I think about it, the things that exposed the depth of my lack of trust.
The first major revelation came one Saturday evening when a bunch of youth popped in, right over supper.
‘Invite them for supper’. The thought went through my mind, and I knew good and well where it came from.
It wasn’t my idea. And I didn’t like it. In the moments that followed I became quite upset, as I argued with the Holy Spirit. Arguments like, “If You can’t provide for me, why should I feed random people in my house?” and other lame arguments. I know… like I said, embarrassing. And rebellious.
This arguing carried on for a while until a few of them left. One stayed and we had dinner, followed by a great night of games. My heart felt convicted the entire time. I had disregarded God, and I knew it.
In the weeks that followed, this type of thing happened, in one form or another, numerous times. And with it, blow after blow, spiritually and financially.
The final blow was getting word that our charitable registration did not go through, meaning we cannot do fundraising for upcoming events. While the door to becoming a charity isn’t completely closed, it has dragged out far longer than timelines we were given, a year ago in January, and it has put us in a difficult position in every way.
Discouragement set in. Was this God’s way of saying I did not have His blessing? That I was to walk away from this ‘fight for hearts’? Was I rebelling against Him to keep going?
Or was it the enemy trying to stop me? How could I know for sure whose voice I was hearing? The torment almost took my breath away.
Somewhere in there I stopped reading my Bible regularly, as I focused on ‘this world’ survival. Prayer went from constant conversations and delightful communication, to occasional moments of panicked cries asking God if He is still there. It was dark. Very dark. And lonely.
I shared the struggle with Tim, and eventually found the courage to let several of my church leaders,and three close friends and mentors, have a glimpse into my heart. Especially Pastor Rob, with whom I held nothing back, when Tim and I met with him on February 6. At least nothing that I could put into words.
On Friday, February 8, I finally ‘laid down my sword’. Still uncertain of what it all meant, I felt I had no choice but to release the ministry.
Moments after Tim and I came to the conclusion that there are no other options, an email came through, a desperate cry for help. It was one of the most devastating stories I’ve heard to date. One that, under any other circumstances, would have been greeted with the confidence that ‘God is more than enough’. But, in that moment, it completely overwhelmed me. I had laid down my sword. Something had changed.
Sobs shook my body, as I wept. Why? When it all seemed so clear? When I had just made peace with releasing the ministry… why? It ripped at my heart, and tormented my mind, eating at the fabric of my spirit like a fast spreading cancer.
I sent an email to my pastor, sharing some of the torment with him. I had to get it out of my system, out of my spirit, and break the power. I knew he would be off for a few days, and not likely reading emails, but if I waited, I would lose courage.
Too much happened in a short time, to tell it all, but that email broke the power of the lie, and gradually I came to the realization that God was not finished with me, or with my dream or ministry.
It wasn’t about Him not wanting me in ministry. It was about Him wanting my heart…. that secret place that He was not allowed to go before. That place of complete trust, and the kind of faith that is the evidence of things not seen. I so much prefer the kind that isn’t really faith at all–the kind that sees the answer.
Each time I tried to go to that place of deep trust, my heart stopped. At least that’s how it felt. And I caught my breath in fear. Was God really asking me to trust Him that much? I wanted to, but had no idea how.
So that is where I began. I told God, “I haven’t a clue how to trust You. And I’m scared to ask You to teach me, because I’m afraid of what that will cost me, but I desperately long to trust you.”
I began praying little things like, “Thank you for providing for our needs today,” and celebrating little things in my heart, in a way I had not for quite some time.
That was the nature of my prayers these past few days, starting on Friday. And quietly begging God to take care of me, to help me trust Him.
I started to worship again. ‘Glorious‘, by Paul Baloche, ‘Breath of God‘, and ‘Broken for Love’s Sake‘ by Tricia Brock, as well as ‘Build Us Back‘, by Newboys, became my songs over the weekend. I listened to them over and over, letting God speak to me, to awaken my spirit again.
Slowly my heart softened, and life started to return, and, with it, joy.
But breakthrough came shortly after midnight, this past night. I had taken a nap in the afternoon, and was not tired when Tim was ready for bed, so I told him I would stay up and work on my book.
I turned on my music–a blend of worship and contemporary Christian–and set to writing. I imagined myself writing at least two thousand words… maybe even four. My mind was alert, creative. It would be a productive night. Well, by the time the night was over, I had written over three thousand words, but only a few went into my book. The rest are right here, in this blog…
Breakthrough began shortly after midnight, when my iPhone reminder popped up, and distracted me from my book. “Don’t forget to read your Bible”, it said… a reminder I had ignored repeatedly the past few days. One I intended to ignore again.
I picked up my phone. But instead of ignoring the reminder, I opened the app to see what was on the ‘menu’.
The daily verse popped up.
New International Version (NIV)
18 Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
Cool, I thought to myself. I nice verse to remind me that God forgives, that He delights in mercy. I reflected on the past few days. Good thing He’s merciful. I really bombed it with Him, and am still in recovery.
I tapped ‘The Essential Jesus’, part of my daily reading plan, and it was stuck at Friday, the day I ‘laid down my sword’, and told God I was giving up ministry. I had not read one thing in my Bible since that day, other than reading the first chapter of Lamentations that night.
The verses for Friday were significant. Had I read them that day, I would not likely have surrendered ministry, but it needed to happen because God needed to conquer that place in my heart.
The verses are common enough, but they are documented repeatedly in my story, as God’s call to ministry. On November 4, 2007, when we joined Wilmot Centre Missionary Church, they were in a song sung just before an elder at church prophesied over me, saying that God would open doors for me to speak to the wounded. He didn’t know me, other than having heard a fifteen minute testimony.
These verses can be found in communications with my late pastor, Don Mills, who was the first man to encourage me in this ministry. They have been spoken over me many times, and should no longer surprise me.
But tonight they took me off guard. Seeing the reference, and realizing it was the verses for February 8, was completely overwhelming. In a good way.
New International Version (NIV)
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.
I read the verses past the tears that had started to fall. Tears of release. Tears of wonder. Tears of hope. Tears of repentance.
I fell to my knees in front of my chair and prayed like I have not prayed in a very, very long time. If ever. And I wept, as I surrendered my heart. I embraced God’s call, a call that had never changed, as He picked up the sword I laid down on Friday, and placed it, again, in my hands.
There on my knees, I thanked God for forgiveness. I repented of my unbelief and rebellion. I invited Him into all of my relationships. I asked Him to open the right doors, and provide the way and the means for me to do what He has called me to do. I asked Him to define the vision, to shape it. And if the way it needs to happen, doesn’t line up with the advice people give me, to give me the courage to follow Him, not them. And if what He asks me to do collides with what I have been taught to believe is appropriate for women–a battle I constantly fight–that He will give me the humility to follow His lead and not question Him, when others question me. I asked God to take my life, my heart, my dreams, my visions, my hopes… said I surrendered them all. And it was more than words.
For the first time in a long time, I raised my hands to heaven, to worship, to surrender, to lay down my life, for His sake, His kingdom. And then my heart found peace and rest.
I realized then, when I went to get up, that my legs had fallen asleep. My ankles were weak. My knees felt like they were permanently bent. And it felt good.
I don’t know what lies ahead. I don’t know how we’re going to accomplish the conferences and all that God has called us to do. But I know that God has called us to do it, and therefore we will do it. He will provide. He will make a way.
As I type these last words, ‘The Jesus I Need‘, by John Waller, is playing. Specifically, the ending where the children sing, “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him, how I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er…”
That is my commitment, my prayer, to truly trust God with my life and my heart. That is the surrender my heart has longer for, for a very, very long time.
“Thank you, Jesus.”
Saranya Olivia Rochelle, or Trudy?
Hmmm… Decisions, decisions…
…I think I’m going to keep using my real name, Trudy. At heart I am, and always will be a ‘Beloved Warrior’.
My parents had no idea of the meaning of my name when they named me, but God did. It’s who I was created to be. And my greatest freedom, my deepest joy will always come from relationship with God, from being who He created me to be.
Still, it’s kind of cool that I am ‘Surrendered’, at ‘Peace’ and at ‘Rest’. Maybe I can be a Beloved Warrior, and still experience all of those things.
© Trudy Metzger
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