By Liz Harden
Picture the scene: a room full of twenty people, half of them marginalised, gathered listening to a speaker when suddenly one lady requests to share her story. Her words are tragic and heart breaking as she recalls her childhood. The tears flow unceasingly from her eyes as she discloses the circumstances of her birth – her unknown father raped her mother.
Her mother suffered so terribly with poor mental health that after her birth, she was given up for adoption. She also speaks about her own life suffering with chronic mental health and having to give up her own baby for adoption.
This was the reality of one of our recent Lantern services. You see we had been talking about Luke 18: 15-17 and Jesus inviting the children to come to him. In that moment we had to acknowledge that many of those present had never been welcomed as small children, particularly by their own parents and that they might never have known the feeling of being gladly received.
Isaiah 49:15 says: “Can a mother forget the child at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” What a privilege to tell the rejected they are remembered by their loving, compassionate heavenly Father; and to be the ones to embody that love in their current circumstances. I am continually humbled that I get to love others who have never known love.
In that tender moment, everyone in that room raised their hand towards her and joined in praying for shame to be lifted off her and for the effects of rejection to be healed. As we prayed, I looked up and saw the poor, the needy, the broken, and the captives, with sincere hearts praying for one another. Each one coming as little children before the father on behalf of someone like them.
My heart was overwhelmed by the simplicity and the trust of the Lantern family, coming around to love and care for others. It caught my breath as I had a taste of God’s Kingdom on earth. I could see the hope, the hunger and longing in eyes for The Father’s presence, his touch in our midst. You know the Holy Spirit is near when transformational love and compassion fills a room.
For this woman, this moment when others gathered praying for her, affirming her, reminding her of her worth, will always be present as a reminder that Jesus welcomes and remembers her. So, take encouragement from her and know The Father welcomes you as a little child in his arms. Take encouragement from them, many of whom are stuck in childhood trauma, whose only option is to respond as hopeful, expectant children. Let’s come to our heavenly Father as trusting children.
Liz Harden, Leeds Vineyard