Today my family is getting together finally for our monthly time. It was early last August when my oldest living brother fell from his boat breaking his pelvic in 3 places. He has had quite a battle. We were actually to be getting together the weekend following his fall and this is what has been delayed until today. This morning as I was having my devotions I asked God what He wanted me to know for the day. He reminded me to give all joy and praise to Him that our Idaho family unit can be together once again. My word, the brother who fell is 82, the one where we are going for the gettogether is 80, I’m 68 and the youngest is 67. As my grandson told me a few years back–“We are lucky to be alive!” In reality we are very fortunate to be together, healthy enough to enjoy the time and our relationship is strong enough that we actually enjoy being together.
This oldest brother is the one who has come to church the last two weeks. I know the impact of this last accident has had a great impact on his reality of God. He has struggled with his growing up and what he was taught to believe about the God we love and adore. There were none of us who escaped dad’s wrath. Yet, this is not the God we were led to believe in as children. As I’ve been experiencing the healing from this current class I’m doing on Abuse I can see so clearly what God has done for us–for me. No, we did not have a healthy home life led by a dad who directed you to this loving Father. However, what I’m seeing is the gift God gave all of us kids in one another. This is what I want to thank God for today as we are together. God is so kind, faithful and good!
Yesterday was a day of facing the reality for the schools and consultants working with them. There is a great deal of work to be done. The “honeymoon” of getting a relationship built is over and the reality of the work and the timeline for completing it is now before us. As I got home from the day with the state dept training I quickly changed clothes and went to choir practice.
This Sunday we are singing a song where I have a solo which doesn’t always follow what the choir is singing. I’m to have it memorized as the words the choir sings aren’t always the ones I’m to be singing. Yikes! I’ve spent hours on this and still struggle. Last night I awoke at 2:00 am with the song running through my mind so I spent the next 2 hours listening to it on YouTube. The song’s title is “All Praise Rising”. As I was journaling about it this morning it seemed God was saying to me that I can’t praise Him if my praise is looking down at a sheet of music. He wants me to know this well enough that I’m free to praise Him as He deserves to be praised–looking up! I forget so often what I wrote in yesterday’s blog. He wants me willing and He will provide the skills to do the work He assigns as it is needed.
Today is a follow-up from yesterday. It is a day with the state dept providing clarity for high schools and the work they specifically need to do to get more students graduating and not dropping out into a society which tends to eat them up rather than provide a stable job market as it did when I was a youth. I’ll be with the high school admin I work with. This is part of the same reality we faced yesterday. I hear God saying to see the problem but to see Him first and then let the problem be part of His plan. I so want to be the servant He wants and keeping this perspective in each part of the day is a step of awakening I want to improve upon. The leaders I work with are Christian which I appreciate. It also helps greatly that I don’t feel that old sense of needing to hide who I am. As the song writer wrote–“I’m a Sinner Saved by Grace”. I’m bringing this person to the table with these other leaders and teachers. With God at the helm, His Work will get accomplished.
Being good enough. Has this topic ever haunted you as it has me? I’ve spent my childhood and young adult years trying to be good enough at things I simply wasn’t cut out to do. The skill set needed to be good at the things dad was or many of my brothers wasn’t part of me. Somehow, this thinking transferred into my thinking about doing God’s work. I wasn’t good enough to “be” what He wanted me to be so I spent my life working to do whatever I did as good as possible hoping to be good enough for Him someday. This present healing from the class I’m doing is quite remarkable. God has done away with the mindset that I’m not good enough. He has replaced it with a mindset much more awakened to the reality that He wants us willing, not necessarily skilled. If we are willing, He will provide whatever skills are necessary.
I think what is most remarkable for me presently is the sense of deep, inner peace within. Peace to be who I am. To realize I’m not “less than” because I’m not the “same as” is a miracle only God can give. This healing/awakening is what God has been doing lately. How much I thank HIM for His faithfulness to me and to each one of us. I want more than anything to be a faithful servant to Him.
God never ceases to do His Kingdom Work. It is so amazing to know He wants each of us involved in it too. We can be part of it and our own healing process is also part of it as we open ourselves to it. Yesterday morning I did finish the lesson from the Abuse class for Tuesday night. It was more of the same inner work on the damage of my childhood abuse. I can say that even though it was tough, it was not nearly as much as the day before having worked that part out and experienced God’s healing from it.
Yesterday I was able to talk to my daughter in Oklahoma. It was nice to process all of this with her. I also spent a couple hours with my two brothers close by at the home of the one who is recovering from the surgery. He and his wife had come to church last Sunday and said they’d be there again today. This is and of itself is quite a miracle of God’s continued work. God is so good at softening hearts in order to bring His children to Him.
As I was journaling this morning I thanked God for yesterday. The time I had with family and the time I had to get things done here I needed to do. It seemed God pointed out that when I’m focused on Him in my day I find that He is focused on me. God’s Kingdom work includes me in it as well as in its completion of work. We are all works of God’s handiwork and He uses us as tools of His Work for others. I was thanking God for helping me get things done I needed to do and He was showing me how all of this is simply part of our working together. I’m not done as you can tell with this depth of understanding on the topic. However, it is so good to be on the other side of so much of the bondage I’ve held from my past. It is easier now to begin to see God and me working together rather than I working to hopefully gain entrance into God’s Work as being good enough. God is truly AMAZING!
Every morning before I write the blog for the day I read what I’d written the day before. It is for me a good connection to see what God is doing. It is also a time of surprises. Yesterday was one of them. I wrote about the HOPE lesson thinking it was finally in place in my life. After writing the blog yesterday I went into next Tuesday’s lesson in my Abuse class workbook. It started with the sentence: This may be the most difficult part of the entire workbook’s lessons. My immediate thought was that was good. I was glad to be at a place in my life where I could do these lessons with HOPE and not be overwhelmed. Boy, was that a naïve thought!
The lesson began with a pie graph of different types of abuse–21 to be exact. I was to highlight all the components of the categories which described my past. Talk about coming out of denial–17 of the 21 areas were highlighted. From there I had to describe the painful events of the past which caused me to highlight it. There were some of them I could write about for a week, but I didn’t need to do that in order to know the significance of it. I didn’t come close to finishing next week’s assignment before I was so overwhelmed I had to stop and call my sponsor. He had heard the hope lesson the night before and I needed to tell him I was a liar. In doing this much of the lesson I realized how much HOPE I didn’t have which was contrary to what I’d told the group the night before. These items were overtaking me again now that I wasn’t in denial about any of them. The assignment had caused me to question God all over again about why I wasn’t important to Him and why He’d placed me in this family to be raised by dad and to be a brother to the one? Why mom never cared enough to do something? My sponsor and I talked and that helped. I then called my wife who has been gone all week so we could talk. All of this helped to “reground” me. I went to my school district and had a good day with them.
This morning I will finish the rest of the lesson. I must say that during my prayer time when I was talking to God about all of yesterday’s stuff, He reminded me once again that now the items of yesterday are outside of me, His Son has nailed them to the Cross and they are buried permanently. As painful as the assignment is, it doesn’t compare to the joy from the freedom on the other side. I know this is true and this is the HOPE of last Thursday night’s lesson.
HOPE. This was the lesson for Celebrate Recovery last night and I was the one to deliver the message. It comes after the first two lessons which are Denial and then Powerless. I am always brought back to the reality of God’s Amazing Work with these first three lessons. For man to stay on top of his sinfulness, he denies it and particularly he denies it’s control of him. Secondly, man works endlessly to be powerful enough to keep his denial in place and to keep his outward appearance strong. I’ve spent a lifetime keeping these two in place in my life. I never wanted anyone to know my past and I certainly didn’t want anyone to know how much the abuse of my past had power over me. Keeping this façade in place was an exhausting, full-time job!
HOPE, being the lesson last night, was a wonderful reminder once again that God is fully in control. His power is given to us in the increments that we begin to confess what we’ve denied and to what degree we give to Him the power we’ve kept to ourselves. This new class I’m experiencing right now in our recovery ones on Tuesday night is revealing for me what I’ve not wanted to confess about my past’s abuse. The fact that I felt emotionally abandoned by my wonderful mom is a huge one. It’s painful just writing it here but it is time for me to come out and confess it. It will continue to have power over me if I don’t confess it and it will be one of those things Satan uses to feed my mind about my value to God and man. I can honestly say that mom was simply human and she did the best she could given her circumstances. But, in the fact that she was human, she did fail in some areas. Knowing how to address the woundedness of her kids from the abuse of dad, and for me, the abuse of my brother were things which left her feeling helpless. She prayed and for that I am truly grateful.
This second paragraph outlines a deep rooted hold the sinfulness of abuse has had on me. The beauty is God’s healing in last night’s lesson–HOPE. During my lifetime I’ve always hoped the day would come when I’d be free. I use to think it would happen when I died and I no longer lived in this sinful world. However, God has taught me He has a mightier plan than mine. He wanted me to know this freedom even while I’m here in this sinful world. He wanted my story to help others find their own freedom. He wanted mom’s helplessness story to help others know they don’t need to hide that feeling of theirs. How much I love my Father God! He is the Founder of HOPE and the provider of it. Praise His HOLY NAME!
Daniel is not a very big book in the Bible, but the message within Daniel is huge. If you can place yourself in exile from home, dispelled hundreds of miles away knowing you cannot return, that is the starting point. How would I be serving God at this point? Daniel, regardless of these circumstances, chose to worship God as his One and only True God. Throughout the book he is acclaimed for this. God uses him mightily through his faithfulness to Him.
This morning as I’m having my devotional time I read about Daniel and his commitment to pray to God three times a day regardless of the decree to pray to the statue of King Darius. Darius was manipulated by the other leaders who seemed jealous of Daniel. They knew Daniel prayed this way and they wanted him out of their way. This didn’t deter Daniel’s commitment to God and he was caught. Amazingly, God kept him safe from the lions in the den and King Darius had the manipulating team of leaders thrown into the lion’s den–they and all of their family members. Sometimes this story alone is what we hear and think about. But, what was hitting me this morning was the fact Daniel was turning to God 3 times a day in prayer. I start my day doing this but there is no other time I do it like in the morning. I also know that as my day goes on I get overly caught in the spirit of the day and what I’m doing disconnecting from God’s guiding spirit for which I started my day. I’ve journaled many times wondering how I keep myself more focused thinking it was a “me thing to do”.
As I began to journal I asked God about this, thinking I need to take my journal with me to focus myself a couple more times a day. It was surprising to hear God simply say, “When Daniel turned to me he worshiped me.” He was reconnecting his spirit with God’s Holy Spirit for God is Spirit. My spirit is strong, I know, but it is strong in wanting to do what inspires me. Worshiping God throughout the day a couple more times like in the morning will allow me to keep my spirited self aligned with God’s Spirit. I needed this awakening this morning. Taking a time out at noon and later afternoon to worship God is my choice and I want to develop this disciple in my days ahead. I’m sure this is part of being a new creation. I sure want to be as Daniel–committed in spite of what the world may think, say or do.
I am so glad every day has a morning. It is this time of each day I seem to get my assignment for the day. Often God tells me to “Be still and know He is God”. He usually just has to say, “Be still.” I know the rest. My mind will race through many things on it but God always brings me back to the simplicity of being still. In being still I can know God is God and I am His servant. I am not God nor do I want to be. However, there are times when I want to take charge and make everyone do it–“this way! They’d be so much happier if they did!” I’d think. God reminds me that each man has to come to Him on their own. Our role is to encourage, nurture, guide, etc., but I cannot MAKE anyone come to God/Jesus. The Holy Spirit does this.
I am writing all of this in the first paragraph because there is a new creation in me today. God is making me into the person He has always wanted me to be. In so doing, the old part of me who wants to “save the world” still lives. This is the reason I need the morning in each day so I can be brought into alignment with The One True God. God never asked me to save the world. His Son did that and made it possible for each of us in the world to come to Him. My job–be a signpost guiding the ones He puts in my path to Jesus Christ–The Savior of the World. This I want to do well for Him.
Today the journey starts again. The halt is done. It has all been a mental/emotional healing, but now I am ready to step out once again in this world. In so doing, I am stepping out as a new child of the King. Let me explain. As I began my devotional time I read Blackaby’s devotional for the day where they were outlining the cost of Jonah’s disobedience and eventual obedience to God. God got His Kingdom work done through Jonah but Jonah had to be disciplined in order for God to achieve this. My scripture reading in Daniel told of his obedience each time to God in spite of what could have been the cost to him from man. God intervened because Daniel was obedient the first time and so were his three friends.
In the last few days I’ve grappled with the lesson of defining my abuse from my childhood and to identify its impact on me. This has been painful–very painful. This morning before I had even started my devotional time I had a split second glimpse of me when I was quite young. I use to like to play with my sis Bonnie. She and I would play dolls. I liked this a lot more than going out with my brothers who played sports hurting one another in so doing. All I remember from this is how I was criticized and belittled for it. I’ve told much of this in my writings of the past regarding dad and the foul games he’d pit us boys in. This morning God was showing me that He didn’t create in me any mistakes. What I enjoyed then I still do today–not the part of playing dolls, but using the time with others as a time to build relationships that are worthwhile. Bonnie and I would solve many problems during these young times. I’ve blocked this part of me for years and years from my memory bank not allowing myself to be this person. This boy was the one who became tempted by homosexuality. He was weak and unable to stand up to man. I smile as I write this because this morning God has been showing me how He uses me today. It is through building relationships with people that we overcome obstacles in education blocking kids and their learning. It is in recovery programs that He has us now doing that we help others (including ourselves) overcome the hurts, hang-ups and habits keeping us in bondage to sin.
I’ve not stood up for this boy I was and this man I now am. However, today I am good being this man–this creation God made me to be so many years ago. I wasn’t a mistake then nor am I now. Dad wasn’t a mistake in how he was created either. He just didn’t know how to bless God with who he was and accept others who were different from him. Knowing this, I’m going to live out the rest of my life not hiding, but being whole from the start of my life to the present and on to the end of my days. To God be all Glory!
This morning’s devotional time has been one for outlining the freedom walk of life. After the discovery of yesterday, letting go of a whole list of sins outlined in the Abuse workbook, God is seemingly taking me into a new chapter of life–one called Free Indeed. I finished reading Ezekiel this morning and just read the writing Joyce Meyer did in preparation to starting the book of Daniel. She says he is a man of excellence and courage. It caused me to ponder how I would someday be described? My first reflective thoughts took me to all the things I didn’t want to be described as–things I’ve lived my life trying to not emulate as characteristics of dad. It was as if God was saying, “I didn’t create you to not be like your dad, I created you to be the man I created. This is why doing this assignment in the Abuse workbook was so important. Once and for all I wanted you to see all of it as buried and forgiven.”
Free Indeed. Isn’t this a tremendously strong and good statement?! John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” It was many years ago I asked Jesus into my heart. However, it has taken me 50+ years to surrender all that I was hiding thinking I had to live with it while here on earth. Little did I recognize the bondage it had on me and the fear it kept me bound to. This morning I know better than I ever have before that I am Free Indeed.
As I write this blog I am reminded that the last section of my book is entitled: Finding Freedom. At the time, 3 years ago, when I wrote it I only hoped I could find the eventual freedom John wrote about in this verse. I now can say that the freedom is being found. The cost of freedom is often great. However, the JOY of freedom is worth all the cost. For me, it has been an emotional, prideful, fearful cost, but all of it is worth the price when one finally finds the LIGHT of FREEDOM. Thank you FATHER!