Jane felt more ashamed than ever. The pastor had just told her how to flee shame's coop, but she was too chicken to spread her wings and fly. What was wrong with her?
Once again it was as if the pastor had stepped inside her mind to read her thoughts.
"Your Father in heaven is like a mother hen," he said.
A mother what?!! My heavenly Father is like a mother? What do you mean by that?
"What I mean by that is that just as a mother hen longs to gather her chicks under her wings, so does He long to wrap His arms around you - to comfort you, not to punish you. He doesn't live to scold you or put you to shame. On the contrary, He is love. Perfect love. If you feel poked, pecked, or squawked at, that's Fear talking. Not God."
Fear? thought Jane. Fear has a voice? Her ears were so tuned to his message she could almost hear them cheep for more.
"Fear builds the cage that keeps you cooped. But Hebrews 2:14-15 says that Jesus - who was God from all eternity - became human so that by dying He might destroy the deadly pox that causes fear. He was buried so he could bury all your fears and set you free from the chicken coop they put you in. He is the perfect love of God who casts out fear."
Jane's ears really perked up at that. Perfect love? How she hungered for it! If only she wasn't so...
"Don't be a chicken," urged the pastor. "Come out of your shell and be born again. Escape the fever that lasts forever - the flames of hell God has prepared to cook your fears forever."
Conviction continued to grow inside Jane's heart. He was right and she knew it. She tried to move her feet, but they were glued to the floor. Part of her wanted to run forward, throw herself on the altar, and give her life to Jesus, body and soul, but her inner Cinderella insisted on waiting 'til the stroke of midnight before heading down that aisle.
The pastor's voice rang loud and clear. "Take a stand for Christ and He'll take a stand for you. Chuck your clucking fears and He'll wrap you in His wings. But if you choose to stay inside your coop, then you'll go down with the burning barn as soon as the match is lit. For the fear of man lays a snare, but the fear of God is pure. He's the one to fear, not that squawking rooster they call Satan. Stop listening to him."
Come on, thought Jane. You heard what he said. What's the matter with you? Make your decision and go forward!
Meanwhile up on the roof five fit-to-be-tied devils were breaking out in hives, willing but unable to let all hell break loose below. Shame was there, along with Shun, his school chum. Sitting across from them were Suicide, Worry and Lonely, all madder than wet hens and inwardly stinking over their bird's eye view of the disastrous scene below.
Lonely was stinking, "Leave us alone!"
Shun was stinking, "That pastor's an idiot. Don't listen to him."
Suicide was stinking, "You'll never be brave enough to walk down that aisle. Just give up and kill yourself!"
Shame was stinking, "You'll never be free from me. Grr razza frazza splickelty hen!"
As for Worry, he was too worried to stink clearly. Not that it mattered, because his insulter was gagged, just like the rest. The only noises he could make were "Rrrr" and "Mmmmph!"
The angels guarding the hive five were smiling as they waited for the Holy Spirit to finish His work. The last devil was rapidly losing its hold. It wouldn't be long now.
Jane was struggling so badly her hands were shaking. She wanted to accept Christ. Why was it so hard?
Fear. That's why. You fear them. You fear their stares, their whispers, their pointing fingers. You fear their thoughts. You fear their words. You fear to have them see you. Period.
So that's what it was - fear. The very fear she hated and wanted so badly to be free from. Fear was a devil with a nasty voice. But she was a girl who'd been given a free choice.
"If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."
That was it. Now or never. Decision time.
Jane whispered quietly so no one else could hear. "Oh Lord, please help me. I want to give my life to you, but I'm scared. And I'm ashamed of being scared. Please give me courage to do the right thing."
As soon as she finished praying these words, Rachel unexpectedly leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Shame is such a disease!"
Her words were a stream of joy, acceptance and compassion rolling over Jane's head like a giant comforter. It was as if God Himself were speaking through her. She asked for help and He gave it to her. Something broke inside her heart as fear gave way to joy. The pastor was right. Perfect love really did have the power to cast out fear!
Thank you, God, for answering my prayer.
She squeezed Rachel's hand. Together they walked to the front of the church. There Jane gave her heart to Christ. That night she became a new creature. The Lord set her free from Shame, and her life was never the same again.