“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:4-7).
Those under the law were both slaves and orphans, but are now the redeemed by Christ Jesus to be sons, who also receive the Spirit of his Son, and thereby yearn to commune with our heavenly Papa, being the heirs of God.
It is awesome truth what Christ did for us at the Cross. It penetrates into the deepest part of us. It is there that Jesus healed your innards about God, God’s innards about you, and your innards about yourself. But if we don’t understand redemption, we suffer. We can almost suffocate from the affections of this evil world and the spirit behind it. Its goal: to take away our sonship and make us illegitimate. We can miss the magnificence of our redemption, if there remains some awful past moment still under the influence of that wicked re-interpreter, the devil. A dark second of time past can be so painful that it yet haunts us, infecting every relationship, including how you even view yourself. If in our minds our wretched past is not liberated by the promise of God, those memories can hang on like a miserable squatter who seems to be entitled to stolen property: you.
Here’s what happened. I was eight I was still a small town kid from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, but then we moved to south Minneapolis. A kid picked a fight with me and I got beat up badly by a bully a year older than me with his two big brothers coaching him. One of the creepy things about this was it was a fight I think I could have won, but I got all freaked out because he kept hitting me in the face over and over again, and I gave up. I panicked as the punches continued almost all the way home. It was traumatic like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Such fear gripped me. I walked in the back door with a bloody nose and a fat lip, but worst of all shaken to my core. Mom comforted me, and Dad could have freed me from all this rot with his embrace, but instead he was ashamed of me. That was the hardest thing of all: it made the trauma permanently fasten on to me. And so I became an orphan who had a dad, but lost him in that moment of rejection.
I became a loner, unsure of myself, afraid, and on my own. I’d made an inner vow that I would never let this happen to me again. But, somehow I still had a few other guys pick fights with me. I lost, I won, but Dad still was ashamed of me, and then came the fear, and the emptiness of being an orphan. That’s the hell of it: I had a Dad who probably went through the same thing himself, and couldn’t be any different. Not at that time, but gradually I came to this conclusion and didn’t blame him; I knew he really loved me.
But if you’re made to feel like an orphan by your own Dad, you just might end up forcing that shame on others too, on everybody. You don’t have the stability and confidence and self-respect you need to trust anyone. There isn’t that noble relational fatherly hugging and fatherly delight in you which inspires confidence and lays a foundation of proper conduct and masculinity, and you end up doing things you never thought you’d do. Every friendship and acquaintance gets marked by the orphan kid, I mean, the orphan devil. The situation seems unsolvable and overwhelming. It even explained why I got so mad working on cars all those years (I’m a mechanic); there’s really no reason for it.
Enter the Gospel. For some reason, I revisited Toronto’s 25th Anniversary of Catch the Fire, an ongoing revival that I had listened to three years earlier. I heard Heidi Baker, missionary to Mozambique, speaking for a brief moment about the orphan spirit among those people. It shined a light in my own soul till I saw the same dark spirit hiding in me. I didn’t know it was there but instantly I knew why it had gotten a footing, and then grew to a stronghold in my life. But the rage really wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine.
But there’s more. I remembered those verses in Galatians and realized, all at once, that God had indeed already made me His son! And that the Cross of Jesus meant the value God put on my soul, the worth of my soul to him, and he treasured me. And the Holy Ghost was affirming this by crying out to God inside me, Daddy, or Papa, and it’s all about a relationship! And by that relationship, and that alone, that orphan devil left me. I wasn’t alone in this war. My wife, whom I’ve hurt the most, was very much a part of casting out this evil spirit. I felt it go. With a few more prayer sessions we also threw out some others that were all connected: the spirit of rage, fear, hopelessness, confusion, and religiosity. In a new freedom, I commune, worship, and fellowship with God the Father.
Now I know I haven’t gotten to the bottom of this yet, the walking out part, and I’m sure it will be really hard to step into the light and confess my awfulness to God and to others I’ve majorly hurt along the way, yet there’s this new confidence to act as a son, not an orphan. I don’t know how I’ve been so blind to this all these years – just call me blind Bartimeus (this is supposed to be funny: he was ‘the son of’ [Bar – the first part of his Aramaic name] a man called Timeus, or just ‘Tim’, me, a blind guy).
I guess the orphan spirit tries to blind us and get us accustomed to our bondage. But now I’m crying out with Bartimeus, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47). And he did and I got free. The worse the bondage the stronger the virtue Christ builds in us. I must say, this feels so good. It’s in my heart and soul, even in my gut. I feel like I’m standing on a foundation that Jesus built under me, and I feel so much better about my past and who I am in Christ.
Conclusion: Forgive everybody who has wronged you. If you get forced to fight, trust Christ and then fight hard, but don’t be bitter, or get freaked out with fear. Don’t let fear rule you about anything. Don’t give place to the devil for a moment. Learn to be a son with God: what a great revelation. You’re not a slave, nor an orphan, but a son who is also an heir, an heir of God, and he’s bent on giving you everything he’s got, including I think, what’s in his basement refrigerator – but that’s just how he rolls.