Free to Run (Erin)
I don’t know how to start to testify about what Jesus has done for me recently. There was absolutely significant ministry that He did in my soul during Ken and Michelle’s weekend with us, but it all fell in a context. A context of deep, painful, painstaking, slow yet quick work he has been doing for the past 14 months in particular.
God is good. Through His kindness, patience and tender-loving care for me, His daughter, he brought me through a season of counseling that forced me to acknowledge long-hidden hurts and deal with them in a way that led to healing, not more coping. The timing was His. I could see His hand in the counseling process (as could others) which kept me returning when it was the very last thing I wanted to do. Recently, Dave and I started going to counseling together. That was even less fun ☺ though timely, right and fruitful.
It was in this context that Jesus continued His work and interestingly enough through the very people who likely cracked it open to begin with! I first encountered Ken and Michelle about 5 years ago at another Ephesians 4 weekend. During a ministry time I had my first experience of deliverance. Though it was messy, I felt completely protected and at peace. As Ken prayed over me, Dave had insight that broke me free. Ken coached Dave to take authority over it and I felt like dark shadows came out of my heart, looked me in the eye and left. I knew what they were now, they wouldn’t be able to hide again. God continued to grow me, mature me, and take me one step at a time until this last 14 months when the process seemed to get to a very raw, root level.
As we anticipated the Ephesians 4 weekends, I knew God was going to do something significant. I could sense it. It was like He was preparing me so I could be courageous and step into the places that hurt the most. He truly does make me brave. Sure enough, the first Friday on marriage triggered incredible pain, but He had been building in tools over time to deal with it. Dave could spot it, I could communicate about it (eventually) and though it wasn’t “fixed”, it couldn’t hide.
Saturday we went to ministry team training. Michelle took a few minutes to lead us through a time of prayer with God. Asking Him what lie was getting in the way right now and then what truth He wanted to replace it with. During that time a very hurtful memory came to mind. This particular memory pops in my head every once in awhile. I would usually swat it back like an annoying fly but honestly it always seemed to leave a new wound. I was annoyed that this memory came back and ask God to show me a different lie…hadn’t I dealt with this one so many times? Nothing else came to mind and it was time to ask about the truth. So I surrendered and asked Him about the truth. Immediately a scripture came to mind, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” It was cool that something came to mind, but it didn’t quite resonate yet. Later, Ken asked Dave and I if he could pray over me as an example – modeling prayer ministry for the team. Ken remembered the deliverance God had done years ago and had seen the tears on Friday…we all knew God was at work. We agreed and a deeper healing work happened. You may need to ask others to describe what happened from their perspective. For me, it seemed there was something that could not stand the presence of God and the authority of Jesus confronting it. Rejection, shame and guilt all came to the surface and though it would seem I should be embarrassed, I just felt love and finally a new deeper sense of freedom.
That night, I thought I would search for the words I heard earlier that day (thank you search function on my Bible app!). It brought me to Jeremiah 31 and as I read the words and the following verse…I was undone.
I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt: Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful. – Jeremiah 31:3-4
God spoke and he spoke not just in response to that one memory, but to the full context of what He had been doing. I felt like He was praising me for every step of courage and every fight for wholeness over the last 14 months. I felt like he took my feeling of despair just 24 hours earlier and renewed REAL hope, not sentimental optimism. I felt like I was given a promise: I AM rebuilding you and you WILL return and dance with the joyful.
I have remained a bit general in this written testimony, but am happy to share details in person…but just trust me for a minute. THAT promise pierced a hardened area…a self-protected area and I knew something had significantly shifted. I fell asleep that night calling Father God “dad” for the first time that night. I felt a peace and a safety that night that almost felt foreign…it was wholeness, it was real rest in the truth.
The following weekend God put the proverbial cherry on the top.. The teaching on the life and spirit and the grounding in the Word was absolutely incredible. It wasn’t that it was all brand new…but I was new and a recalibration was taking place. Somewhere along the way I had a fleeting but very clear thought, “You are free to run now.” It was notable but there was a lot more to pay attention to. The next and final day of Ken and Michelle’s weekend teaching there was time for ministry in which one of the elders prayed over me. I didn’t quite see it coming but I broke down as I heard him say, “You are free to run, you are victorious now, you are safe.”
The way God speaks and brings His ministry through His people blows my mind. It just surprises me EVERY time. It humbles me and fires me up to realize anew the incredible gift He has given us by His Spirit and how we can bring healing to one another and the world around us. It also makes me incredibly thankful for the team of elders here. I am thankful for the relationships they have nurtured over the years for the benefit of this body of believers. I am thankful for the people who take time to travel and minister here not for their own benefit but for others and I’m thankful for the insane amount of extra work put in by all of them to do it.
I am thankful for our Father who draws us with His kindness, who brings healing and freedom because of His great love for us.
– Erin Foster