I wouldn’t have thought when I wrote my autobiography 3 years ago that I’d be writing what I’m about to write. However, in the recent lessons on shame and the one I mentioned for this week, I can feel the grip–bondage which still exists in me. The counselor and I talked about this after class last Tuesday and yesterday I called him and I’m going in this morning to address what I wasn’t ready to address all those years ago. The therapy of EMDR is what the counselor will use. I’m well acquainted with it as I’ve had 2+ years of it before.
Somehow, being OK has always been very important to me. For a long time being OK is what I wanted the world to see in me and so I kept my past hidden. Well, the emotional infection was oozing out way back in my late 30’s when I went for the first time. Then, when I went again in my late 50’s the wounds were open–most of them. Today I want to open the last of them with the counselor’s help. God has been very faithful in helping me see this need. How much I do love HIM!
The saga of recovery seems to be ever before me in my thoughts as I go into this day. The lesson of last night’s recovery class was steeped in strongholds which I can call powerlessness, darkness, deadness. The sub-topic for the lesson was “symptoms of post-traumatic stress”. As only God would ordain, the counselor we have joining us every other week was present last night and spent the entire 90 mins with us. Afterwards he offered his counseling assistance to one of the guys who has never had any treatment for PTSD and his childhood abuse/trauma. As I was finished locking up the place he also asked me if I’d like any additional help to better find freedom? I told him I knew from this lesson that I still have an area gripping me I need to address. As I took all of this to God this morning He seemed to confirm for me that His Holy Spirit desires to help me replace the “hardness of heart” I have regarding some issues I’ve talked about but my body doesn’t know the freedom of the hardness nor how to find the means to let it go. I certainly recognize my body’s response vs what my mind knows.
I am going to set an appointment for this counselor to help me address this. I seem to know what needs to be addressed, but finding the means to let it go is the goal. Boy, God is so faithful and His Holy Spirit is so patient. I’m so glad to have the means for facing this giant through God’s leading.
Today, this morning, I am picking up the testimony of a dear friend who is giving it for the first time this Thursday at Celebrate Recovery. He has been coming for about 8 years now and finally decided it was time to stand before the group and tell the story of God’s work in his life. I am very proud of him! He has actually been my accountability partner for the past 4 years and has served as my sponsor too as I have for him. I’m looking forward to seeing just how God uses his story to touch others who may be stuck. God has a way of lifting us into new insights through the stories of His Work in other’s lives.
I told you about the Sunday School class I’m attending. Last Sunday the teacher asked us which Bible character would we aspire to be more like? I didn’t say anything but I’ve always wished I could be more like John. In his book of John he never names himself. He only refers to himself as the disciple Christ loved. I’ve wished so often to carry that confidence within me knowing I am loved by God’s Own Son. This morning as I was journaling I asked God what He wanted me to know from Him for the day as I do each day. He said, “Earnie, you are My adopted son for which I love. John was not the only disciple Christ loved but John loved himself so he was able to receive Christ’s love more easily. Have confidence that I love you just the same way.” As I write this I think of the scripture which says to love our neighbor as ourselves. I know this is the love God is talking about–it is confidence that we are created in the image of God and for good. I want to stay anchored in this truth.
I think all of us know we are a carnal, human person with a spiritual presence within us. If we are Christian we also know this spiritual presence connects directly to God’s Holy Spirit when we give our lives to Jesus Christ as the only true way to God our Father. The Sunday School class I’ve begun to attend a few weeks back is fascinating. The sole purpose for it is to help us connect the stories of the Bible to us today. It is done by taking the scriptures back to their language roots so the translations don’t adjust their meanings. The Hebrew language is one of pictures so every letter has a personal meaning for life. Our teacher is gifted at bringing these pictures into focus as she teaches.
It is amazing to me that I want to understand scripture in my human mind as I understand math or science. However, there are things God wants us taking by faith which always make me wonder where that came from or why am I to do that? An example is living as a new creation. How does this happen and what does it really look like in this human world? How do I rely on the Holy Spirit in day to day activities? What does faith and trust look like at these times? I asked yesterday why God revealed to Mary about Jesus being born and then simply told Joseph to trust her. Also, God showed Rebecca she was having twins and the second one would rule over the first one. Why didn’t He tell this to Isaac? The teacher said that in the Jewish language woman are known to be more spiritual and able to believe God’s messages. Men question while women believe.
Today I want to start believing far more than I question. Maybe I’ll still question but I don’t want that to replace believing even when I don’t understand. God is wanting to strengthen my belief and I want to give Him permission to do all He needs to help me be a strong believer using trust and faith always rather than doubt and speculation. God–be free to do all You need to do.
Yesterday was a remarkably good day in many ways. I got the gals off to the airport and they are now into their buying week. That could be frightening for me, but….
One of our Celebrate Recovery men came over yesterday afternoon and did his inventory with me. He had started this a couple years ago and had not finished it until yesterday. In the couple of years he has experienced some life changing ordeals like two heart attacks. He is 10 years younger than me. God is working in his life. He also shared a huge amends he wanted to do but needed to express it ahead of time. In all of this I kept sensing God’s work in this man’s life. I’ve known this guy and his wife for almost 10 years now and it was the first time I could see life-changing differences. There was a genuine sense of HOPE as we met. I thank God for this!
A couple of other areas in our family have me on the verge of worry. As I’d written yesterday, God reminds me to praise Him rather than live in fear. I’m so glad He pointed this out yesterday. I am needing it again today and I need a consistent reminder for each day. Today I praise God for all I know He is doing whether I can see it, hear it or experience it. I know that God is Working. I trust Him and praise Him this day!
As today begins I’m faced with an opportunity to praise God. I didn’t get up feeling this way however. Kathy is leaving for a week with her sister to assist with her sis on a buying trip for her store in Joseph, OR. They enjoy this time and I’ve always thought it was a good time for Kathy to get away from Winter in Idaho. For me, this time, I’ve feared the days alone. I’ve been under more attach of late with the class I’m taking on abuse as well as the one we just started.
This morning as I was reading in Acts Joyce Meyer adds a piece of her own testimony in connection with Paul’s writing of Acts. She says there was a point in her ministry where she was being very fearful. One evening she was feeling quite despondent and asked God to help her understand. In so doing the Lord pointed her to Romans 15:13 which says in part: “May the God of your hope fill you with joy and peace in believing through the experience of your faith….” Just like Joyce had been, I’ve been looking at the problem I face rather than looking at the God of my HOPE. Instantly, as I took hold of this truth my peace returned.
God is such a tremendously loving God of grace and mercy. I do have complete hope in Him. I needed this morning to get focused. Now my week will be one where I can rejoice in all God has in store for it.
Do you know what the little book of Jude, which is right before the last book of the Bible–Revelation, says? In verse 24 it says, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless….” I read this in my devotional this morning as I began my time of devotions. I quickly looked for the reference to these words thinking some man had written them. Sure enough, a man did write them but the man wasn’t one of us, he was a writer of scripture placed in the Bible. The first part of this scripture says he is able to “keep me from stumbling”. If you are like me you’ve thought stumbling was just a part of living in this human form. It is in reality, too. However, Jude states a promise from Jesus Christ I needed to read this morning.
Jesus Christ gave each of us The Holy Spirit as our gift when each one of us asks Him into our heart–lives. Over the past few years I’ve learned that the throne on which Christ sits in our lives is housed in our mind–brain. This organ does control every aspect of our human body’s function. As we surrender every aspect of ourselves to Christ and surrender our will to take charge to Christ, The Holy Spirit is empowered to do just what this scripture says–“keep me from stumbling”. I was ready to read this and today–believe it, rather than tremble in fear of it.
I’ve not been able to say until now that entering into this open dialogue of homosexuality is fearful in many aspects. However, I know I’m doing it from obedience and for all the right reasons. God is definitely opening these doors and I’m to step into them. The class I’m presently taking, the new class we’ve just started, all of this is on purpose and God is showing me my part in this Work of His. Instead of fear, He is wanting for me to know today that His Son and His Son’s Gift–The Holy Spirit, will keep me from stumbling. I can believe this and be confident that I’m doing just what God has intended. How grateful I am.
Isn’t God amazing! Yesterday at this time I was in a confusing place in my personal recovery journey. The lesson we’d done and talked through last Tuesday had left me undone. The topic of homosexuality was gripping me because the shame I feel from it was right in the front of my face. I didn’t even want to write the word out yesterday because I wanted to still put it away someplace where I couldn’t see it. This morning as I’m reading in Romans I find Paul writing to the people of Rome that God wants all of us. He wants our minds, emotions, wants, body and all its parts. He doesn’t want any of these things kept separate. He won’t use us fully if we are holding back.
As I got to my journaling this morning I found myself being reminded that last summer I was prepping to lead the class for men who struggle with homosexuality. I knew in my heart I desperately needed the class on Abuse, but someone needed to lead this other class and I had the background so I’d do it. Well, as I’ve told more than once, God had no one coming for the men’s group on homosexuality so I was relieved and happy to join the men’s class for abuse. I quickly stepped into its leadership as the gentleman who was to lead it didn’t want the assignment. He wanted the class. All these months later I am facing the bleak shame within myself brought out from the abuse of a homosexual brother, but even more, the shame for this temptation I carry. This is where I was yesterday.
Today God has shown me that it is recovered alcoholics who help alcoholics. It is recovered sex addicts who help sex addicts. It is recovered homosexuals who help those wanting out of it. Of course the list goes on but this message was what I needed to hear. God has been bringing the last of the bondage of sin, my sin done to me and my temptations, so I can see them for what they are–sin. He is preparing me to lead the class next year if there are those who come. I wasn’t ready this year and any who should come weren’t ready either. The 28 who came to last Tuesday’s class to know how to support someone with this struggle tells this. God want’s His people supported. He’s preparing this first.
I feel as though as huge burden has been lifted from me. I was putting the weight of sin back on me as I looked it in the face. God only wanted me to see it, not wear it. This morning I let Him bury it as the Cross where He did just that with all our sin through His Son–Jesus Christ. Once again I’m ready to be prepared for God’s next step. If this is it, I’ll be ready and willing because today I surrendered all of me. This is why for today I say–God is AMAZING!
Well, the class I wrote about yesterday was a genuine hit. It seemed to be the starting place God wanted us to see and know. There were 28 people who came last night for the class. I was hoping for half that amount but God knew who He wanted there and they came. I was thanked for putting this together even though all I did was find someone to teach it and arrange a place for this to start. There were so many who have been wishing for a place that was allowing this topic of LBGT to be discussed without the venom of judgment and opinion always being present and spoken. God was glorified.
My own class last night was all about the topic of shame. The activities we were to do and the questions we are to answer truly uncovered the depth of this toxic shame in me. How much I long to have this gone but hiding it is not the way to dispel its bondage. I hate, but love the means used by the authors to help the participant, like myself, uncover it. Then we are able to address what the next step is to be. One example of this was answering the question about what am I most ashamed of when I look into myself? After answering it I was to write out what I am as a new creation in Christ countering this lie Satan has wanted me to believe all of my life. I’ve not done this before. In fact the other men in the group hadn’t answered this question. It seemed too obscure to them. We spent much time working this topic. The counselor working with our groups is going to spend some time with us next week to help us see this more clearly. The outcome of these classes is to be freedom, not knowledge which goes nowhere in helping us release these lies of our past.
Eleven years ago when I first retired from the school district after 35 years, I wanted to live the rest of my life helping others find freedom. Little did I know how much Freedom God was wanting me to also find. I realize now that I knew freedom as something to obtain by hard work which was never going to be obtained that way. God is so faithful in helping me let go and allowing Him to one day at a time, break all of this bondage so freedom is found once and for all through HIM!
The journey does continue. Tonight we start a class lasting five weeks for anyone: family member, friend, neighbor who doesn’t know how to relate to someone choosing to live in the LBGT world. Last fall we were ready to have a men’s class and a lady’s class supporting those wishing to step out of this lifestyle. No men came and only one woman came. The lady’s class is taking place but that’s all. I knew God was wanting this to happen but I was puzzled by man’s response to this. When we had begun to advertise the recovery offerings in classes there were scores of people inquiring about the one for LBGT. I knew we’d have several come. In reflection God began to point out to me who was inquiring about the class. In every case it was those wanting to know how to support someone in this lifestyle. So, tonight this class begins. I know several who have said they are coming. I pray that this beginning will be the place God wanted us to start. He is truly an amazing God.
In Romans Paul is writing that God is not interested in our works. In fact when we do work of our own strength hoping it brings us closer to Him, it sickens Him. I was reading about this realizing once again how long I’ve lived this way. Only in the present am I awakening to the depth of this on my part. I’d be bringing to God our Celebrate Recovery, our Recovery Classes, my singing and hoping they were good enough for God to find me worthy for Him. In my own recovery class: Mending the Soul, I’m becoming fully awake to the roots of unbelief which have kept me in this mindset. Little by little God is helping me to let them go and replace them with TRUST and FAITH. Moses was 80 years old when he was finally ready to follow God’s lead in faith. Abraham was 99 when he was ready for God to give him Isaac out of sheer faith. I’m 68 and just realizing what God was showing them about works vs faith. Obedience to God’s leading is what this is all about. The obedience is not about the work entailed in it but it is the act of obedience which is what God is wanting. He takes care of the work portion.
The class tonight is one of obedience. Let God be glorified and may man find God’s insights as he comes. To God be all Glory!