Today we meet Brenda who is recovering from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and alcoholism.
As I was growing up, my family attended church every Sunday. The truth was, though, that we got dressed up once a week so that everyone in town could see how religious we were, only to return home to drunken rages and abusive lives.
Just when I began to wonder whether that was all there was to life, I received a job offer that promised to relocate me to the other side of the country. Far away from family, friends and accountability, I slipped away from reality almost to the point of relapse. At that point God intervened and saved my life. Several of my new business associates were bold enough to talk about their church. I had never witnessed young, successful adults talking about a church with such enthusiasm. For the first time in my life, I began hearing the true message of hope. Pastor spoke about a ministry called Celebrate Recovery and I wondered whether God could truly love me in spite of my sin and shame.
In the summer of 1997 I first attended Celebrate Recovery. I fell in love with Jesus Christ and made Him my Higher Power, and through the experience I was also reunited with a man I once hurt but who is now my loving husband. We serve God together at Celebrate Recovery and live to offer our experiences, victories and hope to other hurting people. Like Mary Magdalene my bondage to the "demons" in my life was broken by Jesus.
I have more love in my life than I'd ever before imagined, more friends than I can count, a devoted husband, a darling baby daughter and a God who has delivered me from bondage. My purpose in life has been clarified: I'll follow God's leading with all my heart and help others find their way out of darkness. I've also discovered my life's verse: "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty." Zechariah 4:6
What did you think of Brenda's testimony? I can relate on a high level because I too struggle with sexual addiction. Please take time to read the story of our "sister in shame" Mary Magdalene in John 20:1-18. Her deliverance from bondage to Satan had left her with a depth of devotion to Jesus the other disciples lacked.
There's a sharp contrast in this story between Mary Magdalene and the male disciples. Her gratitude for recovery had made her a permanent, faithful servant of Christ. Although each of the disciples had received a special call and commission, they lacked Mary's history of bondage. Only John among the Eleven witnessed Jesus on the cross. Mary Magdalene was there, supporting Jesus and his mother and aunt. And Mary Magdalene and another Mary followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to see the location of the tomb (Mark 15:42-47)After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene led other women to the tomb to anoint the body of her Savior (mark 16:1)
The deeper our bondage, the greater will be our gratitude for God's grace. This equips us, like Mary, with a story and dedication to Jesus that many other disciples lack. The pain of Mary's past kept her close to Jesus even when others deserted Him.