The Cult Years – Deception

Deception. It’s the human condition. We perpetrate it, we are victims of it, and it blindsides us with a force that leaves us reeling in its wake. Satan is the master of it, and he wields it as a choice weapon, bent on destroying all of mankind. Since he has no eternal hold on the life of a Christ-follower, he uses deception to render us ineffective for the kingdom.

Deception can lead us down rabbit trails, wrap us in silken cocoons, and very nearly smother the life out of us.

But God. He never leaves us there.  He came to open blinded eyes, blessed be His name.

For a long time I have been ashamed of the fact that I allowed myself to be deceived.  I am finally realizing that if Satan no longer has me ensnared in that old lifestyle, he will do the next thing, which is to make me feel guilt and shame about my past.

See, if I am ashamed or afraid to tell you my story, then God certainly cannot use it in your life.  He may choose not to anyway, but that’s for Him to decide.  If I cower in a cloak of shame, Satan has won another victory, and I’m back to being deceived.  It’s a vicious cycle he tries to employ. He is skillful.  Sometimes I still listen.

But God. He delivered me from my sin when I was a little girl.  He delivered me, and continues to deliver me, from myself and the negative voices that still whisper caustic, attacking words. He delivered me from a life of deception and bondage.

How could I not have known? How could I not see what I was getting into? How could I have been so foolish? But that’s the nature of deception.  As one of my friends so succinctly put it, the problem with deception is that we are deceived.

It was almost as if I handed Satan the very threads so he could ensnare and then keep me bound in a lifestyle of legalistic fundamentalism.  It was a cult. I didn’t know. Now I do.

How did it happen? I don’t know how it begins for everyone, but I know how it started for me. It was an odd mixture of a sincere heart aimed at “pleasing” Christ, a life fraught with insecurities, and a dynamic and charismatic prince charming that would show me a “more perfect” way to live. I was young, naïve, vulnerable, and ripe for the picking.

There’s this part of me that wants to turn back the clock and go rescue that twenty year old girl. I want to warn her about the path she is following, and the devastating choices she’ll make. But she won’t listen. I know her too well.  She will have to learn the hard way. I cry for her. I cry for all those that will follow in her footsteps.

But God. He came not just to redeem me from my sins, but also to redeem me from my regrets. How I love Him for that! He is good and faithful beyond reason.

There are women, longing to be free from the check-list life.  There are women, searching for a way to throw off the chains of legalism and failure. There are women that have taken those first tenuous steps out. They stand on the curb, not at all sure which way to go next.  They have lived in fear, and are now driven by fear. I see them, clutching their baggage and their children close, as they flinch at what might come barreling around the corner to mow them down.

But God. He is there. He holds their hands. Quietly. Sweetly. He is enough. “Come, follow me.”

It has been over five years since God captured my heart in a new way, began to teach me of his grace, and gave me a freedom I had never known, with a force I had never encountered. He did business with the enemy, and let him know that I was already purchased at a great price. Beloved and held, He let me know I mattered and I was worth it.

You matter. You are worth it.

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