When I was six years old, there was a story my Mum read me that must have deeply impacted me because I stored it deep in my subconscious. I don’t even remember what the story was called, my Mum used to make up stories sometimes, so maybe it was one of her own. The only part of the story I remember is where the little homeless orphan is shivering with cold and hunger in the snow. Finding a house with the curtains open, she presses her face up against the glass to look inside. There she sees a family, sitting around a crackling log fire, playing a board game together, the granny knitting, the mother laying a tea tray, the father smiling and touching his children’s heads now and then with affection . And the little girl returns nightly to watch them, trying to imagine what it would be like to belong to this family. Until one day, her small body succumbs to the freezing cold and she dies, still orphaned.
What an awful story to read to a six year old, no wonder I never forgot it! There it stayed, buried somewhere deep in my subconscious until one morning around 12 years ago.
I had spend three years ‘wondering in the wilderness’. My first marriage ended in divorce fifteen years ago and I went through what people commonly call ‘a crisis of faith’. (I was just plain old backslidden) I was so angry and hurt at God, at the church and just at life in general. So for three years I used the old “I’m fine with God, but I don’t ‘do’ church” excuse.
God, in His loving kindness, never stopped pursuing me. Wooing me back to Himself.
I came back to Him – sort of. I deliberately chose a church that I knew was not open to moving in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Looking back, I realise it was because I just didn’t want to allow God to get too close. It felt safer to go to a church where I could plod along week after week, not bother to build any relationships, connect with anyone (even the Lord!) Warm a pew for an hour and go home. Duty done. As though I were somehow doing the Lord a favour.
Don’t get me wrong, the people were lovely – friendly and welcoming, and I’m not in any way diminishing that type of church, but all my Christian life apart from that short time, I have been part of church where the Holy Spirit has been given the freedom to move and speak and where the worship has been vibrant.
Every now and then there would be a tiny ‘taste’ of what I had known before. Even in the more conservative churches God moves and breathes His life and there are people who are open to hearing Him. Once in a while there would be a line in one of the old fashioned Hymns that would break through the gigantic wall I’d built around my heart and I’d find myself fighting back the tears.
I existed like this for about a year.
Then one morning as I sat drinking my coffee, deep in thought, the Lord spoke to me. Out of nowhere I suddenly thought of the story of The Little Orphan Girl that my Mum had told me. And God whispered deep in my heart “you, Jill, are living your life like that girl; standing outside in the cold, pressing your face against the window to watch the family inside, warm by the fire, playing games and laughing together. But it’s self imposed. You are not an orphan. There is no need for you to be outside in the cold; all you need to do is walk in through the door”.
Are You Living As An Orphan?
Perhaps you too, can relate to this. Many Christians live their entire lives like orphans.
My orphanhood was self imposed. There was absolutely no need for me to be ‘outside in the cold’, watching while the rest of the family – my family – the family I became instantly part of when I surrendered my life to Christ 40 years before, enjoyed the warmth of each other’s company, good food and fellowship.
Have you suffered church hurt, a broken relationship, unresolved conflict, abuse?
Perhaps like I did, you have walked away from God, instead of running to Him. Rather than calling on Him for comfort, do you shout out to Him, blaming Him for your pain?
You Belong Inside
Look at what the Word of God says about how God our Father views us and cares for us:
We are fully His, adopted into His family. This is a legally binding contract.
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
2 Corinthians 6:18 “I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. ”
If you are a child of God presently living like an orphan, this is not God’s plan for you. You are part of His family, with all the privileges that come with being a son or daughter. You belong. You are His; There’s no need to skirt around on the outside looking in when you are a child of the household!