A War Cry of Freedom

September 22, 2017

Reagan Croyle Phillips

I see the struggle of shame and forgiveness every day in the lives of our children at Big Oak Ranch. It is on full display through the cruelties of this world.  One of my friends growing up went through the worst this world had to throw at her.  She could have taken the route of vengeance, letting shame take over and living in an everyday prison behind bars of anger and resentment.  But God did not leave her there.  She chose forgiveness.  She will be the first to tell you that forgiveness is a perpetual act.  Those memories of the sins thrust on her creep in and whisper she is unworthy. They tell her lies that it is easier to be angry but she clings to the Hope that He promises through forgiveness.  She is a beautiful mother to 2 amazing kids, and the wife to a loving husband.  She loves the Lord and leads people straight to Him through her gentle Spirit.  A spirit that this world and sin tried to keep behind bars.  But through Christ, she claimed FREEDOM.  I am so proud to call her sister and friend.  Here is her war cry of Freedom:

“Twenty-five years ago today I arrived at John Croyle’s Big Oak Ranch.  I recall clearly the drive up and knowing there was no turning back and each step I took was a step of faith.  Trusting the unknown and fully trusting a God who had removed me from ashes leading me into beauty.  It wasn’t an easy journey.  There was plenty of healing and healing can be quite scary and extremely painful.  Quite like ripping a bandage off and knowing a new bandage will be applied and it too will need to be removed again for new growth and healing to take place.  

When I arrived at the ranch I was given a verse, Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  I secretly held tightly to this verse and dared God to deliver His promise.  Boy did He ever!  I reflect back on my journey and my cup runneth over with more than I could have imagined this country girl’s heart could have dared to dream.

Because a couple in South Alabama listened to the nudging of God to risk so much to help a girl in a dire situation, unknowingly my prayers were being answered and a generation was set free.  

Thank you so much to the people of Big Oak Ranch for taking a chance on a girl when many looked the other way.  I held tight to the verse Jeremiah 29:11 that was written out for me my first night at the ranch, and God delivered on His promise! Much love to you all!!!!!”

Why do we have to forgive?
Who do we have to forgive?
Why is it so important to forgive? 
Why does it eat us alive when we don’t forgive the people who have wronged us?  

In a just world, shouldn’t it be the other way around.  Shouldn’t the person who actually did the hurting be the one who feels hurt the most?  But the truth is, WE are the ones who struggle when people hurt us.  Why is that?  The reason for that is Shame.  Shame is when we feel consumed when someone hurts us.  Shame makes us feel as though we are unworthy, unloved, and not enough. It burrows deep and tells us that that we did something wrong, that we deserved it therefore creating an angry, bitter, and vengeful spirit.  Shame can look different to different people. It can be the voice that makes us run and hide so that no one can hurt us ever again or it screams at us to hurt others before it has the chance to hurt us. Shame also creates a need for perfectionism. Perfectionism is heavy. There was only one perfect person, and it sure isn’t you or me.  Shame causes us to walk through life angry, bitter, and living with the constant feeling like we have to prove ourselves worthy and enough. Hurt is no respecter of age, race, religion, socioeconomic status, or gender.  Hurt finds us all; therefore, shame finds us all. It just may look different in us.  

Regardless of how we carry that shame, it is a prison because we have given up control and power of our emotions. We choose to live locked behind bars of anger and resentment.  But the beautiful part is that we control whether we sit behind those bars or not.  That is why we have to forgive.  Not because the person who offended deserves to be forgiven, but because we are commanded to forgive.  And we are commanded to forgive because we are forgiven.  This is the only way to TRUE FREEDOM!!!!!

Join Reagan Croyle Phillips and many other phenomenal leaders for LifeWay Women's Leadership Forum, November 9-11th, 2017! For more info, visit www.lifeway.com/womensforum.

Desperate for Change
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