Brought back to life
At the age of twelve I was caught in a rip. As the force of the water sucked me under, scenes from my life flashed vividly before me. ‘I’m going to die!’ Suddenly, the arm of a surf lifesaver grasped me around my waist. I regained consciousness on the beach, spluttering out the water from my lungs as the life-saver resuscitated me. I will always be thankful for receiving that breath of life.
Writing Child, Arise! has been a life-saving experience for me. While attempting to grapple with the impact of childhood sexual abuse, I was caught up in a powerful spiritual rip. Its force overpowered me and sucked me down into a very deep, dark hole. In this place of sheer terror and utter despair God’s grace beckoned me, through the Holy Spirit, to put pen to paper. In this chaotic place, the Holy Spirit first whispered to me the title of my book: ‘Child, Arise!’
These are the same words Jesus speaks to a young girl in Luke 8:54. The power of Jesus’ words is so strong that the girl is raised back to life. This miracle magnificently reflects my own experience of what Jesus did for me.
I started writing by falling at the feet of Jesus in prayer. Like Jairus, I begged him to come to my child—my inner self, the young girl who had been sexually abused and was dying. Through his Word, Jesus promised me his faithful presence. This was the impetus to begin writing.
Like Jairus, I too heard voices muttering, ‘The girl is dead. Don’t trouble the teacher any longer!’ Precisely at these times, Jesus implored me, ‘Do not fear, Jane. Only believe and the child will be saved.’ So, believing in Jesus’ promise, I kept writing even while ‘weeping and wailing’ as I processed my trauma.
Each word I received from Jesus was a breath of life that revived my spirit in the deepest part of my being, transforming darkness into light, fear into courage, despair into hope, sadness into joy, and pain into healing. I prayed the Word of God and strived to live it with integrity. I knew Jesus was doing for me what he had done for Jairus’ daughter. I felt him gently take me by the hand and call out to me, ‘Child, arise!’
As I found the courage to stand in the strength of God’s Word, I was reminded that it is the Spirit who gives life and that the words that Jesus has spoken to me are spirit and life (John 6:63).
Writing Child, Arise! has reaffirmed for me the incredible healing power of God’s Word to transform even the most painful and tragic experiences into something of rich beauty and an overflowing of grace upon grace. I know that it is by grace that I have been saved through faith. It is not my own doing. It is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).
2016 Australian Christian Book of the Year
The Courage to Stand: A Spiritual Handbook for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Jane N Dowling
David Lovell Publishing
Are you a writer too? Entry forms for the Young Australian Christian Writer Award, Australian Christian Teen Writer Award and Australian Christian Book of the Year Award can be found at: www.sparklit.org.