I’ve been loving The Chosen TV series. They’re in season two now. The last installment was episode five, which featured John the Baptist and Mary Magdalene. I want to focus in on Mary Magdalene (played by Elizabeth Tabish) because, according to the storyline, she is currently going through a “valley of the shadow of death” experience that we all face when haunted by our past.
While it’s only a shadow because it’s not who we are anymore, it certainly seems like death when we’re going through it.
A little background first. We see Mary Magdalene’s conversion in the first episode of season one. She was a damaged soul, tormented and abused, having had taken on the name of Lillith, until Jesus came and sets her free of seven demons (see movie clip here). Of course, this part is scripturally accurate:
2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out (Luke 8:2 NASB)
I love what the redeemed Mary (no more using the alias, Lillith) says about it to a bewildered Nicodemus, “I was one way. Now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between, was Him.”
And that’s our story. Because of Jesus, we are a new creation! Our past is gone! Hallelujah! (2 Cor.5:17). But then we have to walk out our new life in this world. And in this world, we will wrestle against principalities and powers that try to keep us from our true identity in Christ (Eph.6:12).
In episode 5 of season two, we see Mary being confronted by a demonized man. The demoniac reminds her of her sordid past, calling her Lillith, which has a disturbing effect on her.
The issue here is all about identity. Will we believe what God says about us and walk in freedom, or will we be bound to our past through the lies we still believe?
I’ve made a short clip from this episode showing Mary losing her way….
The scene ends with Jesus telling Peter and Matthew to go find her. This all reminds me of the bridge of the song, “Defender”:
“When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart”
What Mary is about to find out is what David already learned out about God when he had lost his way…
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take up the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me. (Psalm 139:7-9 NASB)
Beloved, no hell we will ever wander into is outside of Jesus’ reach!
I went through my own “valley” experience in September of 2001 (my personal 9/11!), which I wrote about in my book, “Sonshift: Everything Changes in the Father’s Embrace“:
I remember this moment in my life vividly, as if it were happening right now. The terrorists of my soul who had lured my orphan heart into this darkness had now flown their planes into my flimsy religious house of cards and it was burning down. My wife had left me a note saying she was leaving me because of the other woman, my business had failed—even my “Christianity” had come crashing down into a rubbly heap that smoldered in the dungeon of my torment.
At the same time, I could hear the siren song of the freedom of my old life as a carefree musician with no one to answer to but my own self-indulgence.
It was at this moment, seemingly suspended in time and space, that I heard God speak to my heart, “Now’s your chance. You can pursue the life you’ve always wanted, the one you gave up for Me, and the reason why you think you hate Me right now. (I had been mad at God for over a year by then and even refused to pray to Him.)
He continued, “Nothing is stopping you now…not your wife, not your business, and certainly not your position in the church…you are free.”
You see, love requires real freedom of choice. And only free people can truly love each other. I didn’t know that at the time, but I was about to find out! God was giving me a choice. And that choice was very real to me. It was between having the freedom to run away from my marriage, all my failings, from Him…or do the worst thing I could possibly imagine at the time—let go of my pride and face this hell with Him. I hope you understand, I truly felt like I was living in hell. Then, something in me, most unexpectedly, miraculously, chose to face my hell with Him.
Somewhere in my heart I heard the words, I don’t care if I lose everything—and I certainly thought I had—I don’t want to lose You.
Let me say here that there are many things you find out in life that you never knew that you didn’t know. You don’t even have a mental grid to ask the right question. What I was about to experience was one of those times! I was about to be introduced to a ridiculously loving Father who I had never known all my natural life, all my Christian life. (Sonshift, p.35-37)
Yes, beloved, when we think we’ve lost us, He knows where to find us. And He re-introduces us to His love. He truly is the defender of our heart.