God's Healing Power for Abuse
By Jan Coates
Author of 'Set Free'
CBN.com - You did not choose me, but I chose you (John
An unknown author wrote a poem titled "The Chosen
Vessel." This poem tells how God searches for a
vessel to use. "‘Take me,' cried the gold
one, ‘I'm shiny and bright, I'm of great value
and I do things just right.'" God passes by the
gold, silver, brass, crystal, and wooden urns, and chooses
the vessel of clay. The poem explains why:
Then the master looked down and saw a vessel of clay. Empty and broken it helplessly lay. No hope had the vessel that the master
might choose, To cleanse and make whole, to fill and
to use. "Ah! This is the vessel I've been
hoping to find, I will mend and use it and make it all
Throughout the pages of this book, women will share
their true testimonies and journeys. As helpless children,
they were violated, neglected, and abused—physically,
emotionally, and sexually. For many, the pain and impact
of this abuse was so profound that it shattered every
ounce of their identity.
As adults they struggled with criminal behavior, drug
addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, psychological disorders,
and suicide—common problems among adults who were
abused as children. Some chose sexually and physically
abusive partners; others chose chemically dependent
partners. For all of these women, the child abuse of
their past contaminated nearly every aspect of their
For nearly forty years I lived with anger, low self-esteem,
anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and depression as I repressed
the pain and reality of my childhood, filled with physical,
emotional, and sexual abuse. Like most victims, I disassociated
from the original cause of my anger and helplessness
and found expression in destructive acts against myself
and others. I tried to fix everything on my own. I failed
Completely broken, at the lowest point in my life,
I called out to God. The Lord heard my cry and responded
to me with his love, mercy, and grace. I'm living proof
that it doesn't matter who we were yesterday, or what
we did—it matters that God wants to do something
with our lives today.
God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today,
and forever. His plan to save us from our own disaster
is permanent and everlasting. Throughout the ages, from
2000 b.c. through today, God continually chooses to
heal and transform the most improbable candidates.
The moment we place our faith in Jesus, he reaches
down from on high and takes hold of us, remembering
our past no more.
Why would God use such improbable women? I believe
it is because the Lord wants to make clear that the
power lies in him, not in people. And when people observe
such drastic change in broken lives, their eyes turn
The last stanza of "The Chosen Vessel" reads:
Then gently he lifted the vessel of clay. Mended and cleansed it and filled it that
day. Spoke to it kindly. "There's work
you must do, Just pour out to others as I pour into
Like the chosen clay vessel, the brave women in this
book, who have experienced divine healing and gradual
transformation, pour out their hearts to us. Their message
is simple: we can be mended and then set free. As their
journeys unfold before us, let's walk alongside them
and discover the healing and hope available to all through
Now meet some of the improbable women of yesterday.
The Daughter of Evil : Elaine's
"Elaine, hide under the bed and don't move,"
her mother whispered.
Elaine crawled under the bed and peeked out from under
the bedspread. In horror, she saw her father drag her
mother by the hair from the bedroom. Her mother's screams
punctuated the early morning peace. Elaine clapped her
hands over her ears to block out the sound. How she
wished she could save her mother.
The only escape Elaine found from a brutal father who
ran with hoodlums was the TV shows of the '50s, Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver.
Only on these shows did Elaine learn about a kinder
and gentler world outside the four walls where she lived.
She couldn't count the times she dreamed of a dad who
loved his family and a mom who was safe in his presence.
She knew the reason the kids at school never invited
her to their home to play. The kids talked behind her
back, calling her "the daughter of evil."
This Deep South community knew her dad well. Word spread
quickly about his gambling, stealing, and corruption.
Sadly, everyone from schoolmates to neighbors feared
Elaine's dad. One day neighbors watched in disbelief
as eleven-year-old Elaine got behind the wheel of their
big, fancy car and drove her mother, who had been hit
by a bullet, to the hospital. They saw the tragedy playing
out in the house many other times, as well, but instead
of helping, they hid inside their own houses in fear.
One afternoon a pastor from a community church met
Elaine's father, Allen, in the drugstore. The two struck
up a polite conversation. Pastor John remembered Allen
as one of his basketball students from his coaching
days. He had prayed for this troubled young man for
many years, even before he heard the rumors all over
Just as the two were about to part company, Pastor
John asked, "Allen, would you let our church bus
pick up Elaine to join us for Vacation Bible School?"
Allen reluctantly agreed, but he told the pastor not
to get out of the bus when he picked her up. Making
certain the pastor understood the gravity of the situation,
Allen cursed, then said, "Don't start that church
business with me—ever. Don't ever step foot on
my property, and never mention God to me. Got it?"
Later, Elaine's father took Elaine and her mother aside
and told them what he'd said to the pastor. He pointed
a loaded gun at Elaine's head, gritted his teeth, and
said, "If you tell one secret at that church, your
mother will be dead."
Unfortunately Elaine knew he meant it. He had shot
people for much less. Even people who befriended her
sometimes disappeared off the face of the earth.
For years Elaine had walked by the pastor's church
on her way to the store to get bread and milk. She had
peeked into the windows and stared with wonder at the
statue of a gentle man wearing a long robe. He stood
barefooted with arms outstretched and, curiously, had
a ring of thorns sitting on his head.
The day after her father threatened her, wide-eyed
Elaine eagerly jumped off the bus and stood right outside
the church, gazing at the same statue. Tears slid down
her face and she couldn't stop them. Other kids walked
by as if they didn't even notice her.
Pastor John quietly waited behind her until she wiped
her tears. He whispered to her, "Remember, Elaine,
Jesus loves you." She then turned, sniffed, and
looked up at him. He gently grasped her hand and they
walked through the church doors and into a large room
where children were singing.
The words rang out and touched Elaine's heart. "Jesus
loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."
Years later the words to this song would resonate in
Elaine's heart and soul.
Excerpted from: Set
Free: Stories of God's Healing Power for Abuse Survivors by Jan Coates.
Copyright © 2005; ISBN 0764200402
Published by Bethany
House Publishers Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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