Many Christians have “dropped out” of church and have become captivated by their own purposes, pursuits, pleasures and the treadmill of life. When the pursuit of God is left out or becomes secondary in one’s life, the heart then becomes cold toward God and toward the things that God cares about.
Other people can actually continue to go to church and even go through the motions of “serving” God yet their heart is untouched by His love, and therefore they live in a “masked” backslidden state.
Over the years I have seen that this “backsliding” of heart can at times be triggered by unaddressed and/or unhealed early issues of abandonment or rejection. I want to address that soon, but first will look at what 2 Peter 2:19-20 says about backsliding.
“…for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them that the first.”
Restating the above passage:
- A person is enslaved to whatever overcomes him. (It can begin with a deeply entrenched wound of abandonment or rejection, which most likely has formed a prison in the mind – a mental stronghold, or mindset that every life experience is filtered through.)
- If a person seeks escape from pain by returning to former ungodly practices, the bondage becomes worse than the original condition.
- It is better to have never known salvation/deliverance than to know it and then walk away.
- Returning to former unbelief and ungodly thoughts, words, practices is compared to a dog returning to it’s own vomit.
Yet, we know that the scriptures do teach us that restoration to right relationship with God and the congregation, or family, is possible IF there is true heart repentance. If there is genuine godly sorrow there can be a new beginning. (2 Corinthians 7:10). James 5:19-20 says that if anyone strays from the truth and is then turned back, his soul is saved from death. We have all heard of King David’s extreme moral failure and return to to God in true repentance and humility.
We all have an obligation to pray, without a judgmental attitude, for backsliders. 1 John 5:19-20 tells us that we can ask for life for the one who is sinning a sin not unto death and God will grant it.
As intercessors we must pray that the backslider will “rise again”, even as Jesus told His friends that Lazarus would rise again, through the power of His Word and compassion. He still offers restoration. It is a process . Friends must “unbind” and remove the grave clothes. This must be done with an attitude of meekness and awareness of our own vulnerability to fall prey to temptations.
Let’s look at some of the ramifications of being abandoned early in one’s life. Abandonment can be real or imagined and can occur through a variety of ways. A parent/caregiver may die, leave, divorce, work continually, or just be emotionally unavailable. The child that habitually experiences a lack of emotional security, “specialness” and stability, protection or care, will be driven (throughout life) by those unhealed wounds to seek resolution to the emptiness. Remember, most individuals are usually not aware of the hidden driving forces.
Emotionally abandoned children learn to shut down their ability to feel or they learn to over react in pursuit of the attention they crave. Many times as the child grows older he tries to meet his emotional needs through other channels. He may become a “performing overachiever”, perfectionist, a controller, or develop harmful coping mechanisms such as various addictions. They too can become abandoners.
Now when a person comes into relationship with Jesus and with the “church” these patterns of do not automatically disappear, although they may be hidden for a season. Since church relationships often mirror what one has experienced in the natural family, you can be sure that sooner or later situations will arise that are similar. If a believer has not learned the ways to biblically address “heart issues” then it is very likely that old pain and old reactions will be triggered. When old patterns are triggered, tension intensifies and the need to escape becomes very attractive – highly motivating.
“Escape” will most likely mean leaving the “family of God”, running away from all the hypocrites and back to old friends and old ways. Bitterness kicks in along with accusing voices that condemn the “church” for being no different than the world. In fact it is often believed that “non-professing” Christian friends are more accepting, inclusive, and caring than those in the church.
The cycle can be broken — it must be broken, so that true life and destiny can be the daily path, not the short-lived exception. But, for the cycle to be broken there must be a deep desire for freedom and truth – not just a quick fix. To face realities of what is really going on requires courage. One must also truly believe that there is supernatural power available for things to change. Supernatural solutions are recognized and received in an environment of heart humility, honesty and caring and safe relationships.
God’s supernatural solutions must be applied with diligence, over the long haul and with the support of true healers.
Healing for wounded hearts must be ministered at a recovery speed known only to God. There is no standard formula.
God truly is looking for worshipers and warriors, but in His wisdom He makes heart healing for His warriors a top priority. Wounded warriors simply cannot fight the good fight for very long.
Healing early emotional insults doesn’t provide us with guaranteed protection from similar occurrences in the future – within or without of the church walls. There will always be occasion for hurt, rejection, betrayal, abandonment. Jesus was well acquainted with the failures that occur within relationships. But, He was whole inside an out. He didn’t fall. He didn’t give into ungodly behaviors, escape or retreat from His assignment.
Because He overcame WE can overcome. He said to be of good cheer in the midst of all the trials because He, THE OVERCOMER, lives within and can manifest complete victory in every trial IF we will but believe.
Seek the Lord. He will show you the way out. He will heal your broken heart. Do not look to people as the answer, even though He will use people. Draw near to God and He WILL draw near to you.