Inner Healing – Experiencing Freedom in Christ

I watched a Matt Damon film last night. Hadn’t heard of it before. The Talented Mr. Ripley. It’s left me feeling disturbed. The film tells the story of a young man, Tom Ripley [Matt Damon], who by an unexpected series of events, finds himself pretending and “faking it” to be a friend of a rich socialite. The character will do anything to keep his pretence and involvement in high living with lots of money and trappings. He builds his life on lies but the lies eventually catch up with him. So he resorts to murder in an attempt to perpetuate his own greed and selfishness. Tom (the main character) ends up in a very dark place, trapped in the dark basement of his own selfishness and deceit.

Do you have a dark basement which you hide from God and other people? It may not contain deceit, murder or selfishness on the same level as Tom Ripley. But in your dark basement you hide truths about yourself that you are deeply ashamed of. Only God can set you free by shining the light of Christ into the darkest of places in your heart. This may be what you are afraid of most - that he will expose you as a fraud and a fake. But God is not disillusioned with you because he had no illusions with you in the first place. He knows everything about you and loves you just as you are.  He wants you to be whole. Open up the dark basement of your soul and let the gracious light of Jesus shine in to drive out all darkness.

One of the most difficult things is to accept your starting point if you have been broken.  Wearing masks and faking it comes easily to all of us.  It's part of our fallen human condition to want to appear that we have it all together.  Some are better at playing the game than others.  But not one of us escapes the predicament of being human.  So if you want to know God's work of healing and restoration in your life don't try to start with any pretence.  God sees right through it and can only work with the real you.  He cannot and will not heal a mirage of your own making.

In my mid 30s I experienced a powerful inner healing that saved me from the deep darkness inside of me. I was at an Ellel Ministries retreat weekend near Huntly in North East Scotland. After a time of teaching and worship I was paired up with 2 trained counsellors who were available to talk through anything that I wanted.  The counsellors treated me with kindness and dignity and what happened next changed my life permanently.

In my childhood I suffered from harsh bullying, rejection and regular outbursts of anger, blaming and belittling.  On one occasion at 5 years old a school teacher grabbed me by the scruff of my neck.  Dangling in mid air in front of the whole class she proceeded to thrash me again and again.  Other experiences came from my own father and from an array of "friends" and acquaintances who despised me that I was the son of the headteacher.  As a sensitive and quiet boy I was an easy target.  I guess they thought I got special privileges for being who I was.  How wrong they were.  My home life was often volatile and the rage inside my father  was like a machine gun spraying bullets of venom on whoever happened to be nearby. My school life became harder and harder to bear.  When the summer holidays ended I wept at the thought of going back to school and pleaded with my Mum not to make me go back.  Back at school I tried to buy my "friends" acceptance by stealing sweeties from the school cupboard with them.  We got caught and all of us suffered the severe wrath and punishment of my harsh headteacher father.

The consequence of growing up in these devastating environments was that a young boy got broken.  I concluded I must be fundamentally flawed and in some way worthy of such severe treatment.  I withdrew into a dark lonely basement of pain from which I vowed never to trust or make myself vulnerable again.  But hiding in that place was not the answer.  It only perpetuated shame and feelings of rejection and worthlessness.  As a young Christian I did experience the love of Christ and power of the Holy Spirit but part of me remained locked away in the basement until the retreat weekend at Ellel Ministries in my mid 30s.

It was clear to me that one of the counsellors was on the same spiritual wavelength as me.  We both had a prophetic anointing and a capacity to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit so what happened next is what I would now describe as Prophetic Counselling.  For the first time I saw myself in the dark basement as a young boy.  Broken, despairing, lonely and full of shame.  I saw myself in the basement corner, huddled up and cowering away from the world.  The counsellor (whose name was John Love) asked me to ask the Holy Spirit - Where is Jesus?  I watched in the Spirit as Jesus came down into my basement - into that place where the young boy was hiding.  I watched in the Spirit as Jesus took me by the hand and we climbed the steps together.  I watched as we emerged into the sunlight together.  But that wasn't the end.

Next came the re-integration of that broken part of who I was, to become part of the thirtysomething man I was.  I saw my adult self.  I saw Jesus walking hand in hand with my boyhood self and he led me towards my adult self.  The broken off part of who I was (loved and accepted and forgiven by Jesus) had emerged from a very dark place.  That young boy walked hand in hand with Jesus, towards my adult self - and I saw the two merge into one.  The boy was re-integrated as part of the man.  Jesus made me whole again.

Does that mean I was made to be suddenly perfect? No.  Without any struggles or troubles in life? No.  But I knew a significant measure of the healing mercy of Jesus.  As you read this blog article I want to invite you on a journey of faith into healing and wholeness in Christ.  Do you find yourself in a dark and lonely place?  I want you to know for sure that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.  Your journey is unlikely to be exactly the same as mine.   But you are loved with an everlasting love.  God is drawn towards the broken.  He specialises in taking the broken pieces of our lives and making something beautiful for his glory and our blessing.  Don't give up on God if you feel like you are in the basement because he will NEVER give up on you.

Richard H H Johnston

Director of Christian Mindfulness

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