Today is my oldest daughter’s birthday. It was 7:58 pm on a Sunday night that she came into this world. This is the same daughter that has been with us the past few days getting moved into their new home. All of this is stalled at the moment. The inspector has COVID so he can’t come and do the final inspection. Complicating this is that my wife Kathy also came down with COVID. She tested positive yesterday. I also tested last night to be sure I am negative (I am). It put our kids in a quandary because they can’t be exposed anymore than they had, and they aren’t suppose to be in their new home, but they are there anyway sleeping on the floor. I said, someday we will look back at this time and tell stories–right now, well, we’re building the stories!
Now that I’m much more awake to living life as the creation God originally made me to be, I find myself realizing how important relationships are. The idea we need to earn relationships is a genuine lie. The class I’m leading on Sunday mornings called Mending the Soul brings this out so clearly. Those of us who lived through childhood abuse often think we have to earn our way into people’s lives because we have thought we weren’t valuable or else we wouldn’t have been chosen to be abused. This does make sense when one simply thinks about it. But, the reality is that God never made any of us to need to earn the right to be in relationship to Him or with one another.
My oldest daughter and her family are living here for a few days until their occupancy certificate is issued–likely today. I have filled my time with them helping them move, helping fix meals, taking care of my own place, etc. Not once have I sat down and had a nice conversation with any of them–kids or adults. As I was reading in Luke this morning I’ve realized just how much time Jesus spent conversing with His disciples and the ones following Him. Yes, what He did for them was helping them, but He was getting to know them as well–building lasting relationships. My mind has been focused on helping them get moved and cared for and I needed to be awakened to a more important reality.
I needed this reminder this morning. Taking just a moment to check in with them to see how they are doing is far more important than the physical side of moving.
Well, the moving crew got the house pretty well cleared out. The garage is emptied and a good deal of the outside is cleared. The new house’s garage is filled and waiting for the final inspection on Monday so everything can be moved inside. Then, the living in the new house can begin. In the meantime everyone is sleeping here along with the two dogs. So far so good!
As I continue to read in Luke I see Jesus confronting the Jews and how they have chosen to control their religious beliefs and practices. His Words and actions divide the people with this confrontation. He labels their actions as selfishly driven and certainly not God-focused. Man sure has a way of taking the moral-sovereign purposes of God and His Word and turning it around to fit himself. As I was reading Luke 11 & 12 today I could see our own nation’s actions in the last few decades. More and more we are denouncing the Word of God and redefining morality as an ever changing, cultural item. Our country is dividing more and more due to this. We ourselves need to be on our knees before God to know His purpose for us and the stand He wants us to take as well as how He wants us to live.
God’s Ways have never changed–only man does this changing. As I continue on this journey of life I want my legacy to stay focused on God’s morality and His sovereignty over life and how to live it.
Today is a day of celebration. My oldest daughter and her family get to move into their new home. It has been quite their struggle during this time. Little did they know that building at this time would be their greatest challenge. However, it has come together and today I get to be part of the moving crew. This will be fun.
The book of Luke truly brings out the critical importance of building an intimate relationship with Jesus. In the broader sense, it brings out the importance of having an intimate relationship with those we trust. It is amazing to see how intimate and trust circle around one another. The more trust is built, the more intimate one becomes with the other and the more intimate we become, the more we trust. The additional piece to intimacy with Jesus is obedience. When we trust Jesus enough to obey Him (His Spirit’s nudges) we also strengthen the trust in Him.
There has never been a time when Jesus led me into humiliation. As I began to open myself about my past (something The Holy Spirit had been nudging me to do) I found that instead of judgment/humiliation/shame I was finding a much greater acceptance from others. I found myself being called things like courageous and strong. I had always believed the lies in my head that I was scared and weak. No one would want a friend with my past. Instead, I find myself being sought out by others knowing there is something they identify with. It is humbling and fulfilling at the same time.
Luke is encouraging each of us to take the steps of trust and obedience with Jesus. The harvest is ready and the workers are few. Lets join in this harvest crew!
Today as I have finished my devotional time I marvel at something that Jesus did and I have never been able to do. Let me explain. In Luke, chapter 8, Jesus and His disciples get into one of the fishing boats to go across the Sea of Galilee. A storm comes up and Jesus is asleep in the corner of the boat. The storm is so severe the boat is filling with water and Jesus sleeps through it. The disciples awaken Him and He does what He knows He can do–calms the storm. All of this is well known and is the sermon topic for many sermons I’ve heard.
This morning as I was reading this chapter I was stricken by something I’d not given reflection time until now. I’ll explain it in a moment. First, I need to tell about last night at Celebrate Recovery. We had 11 men in our share group and many of them had very severe issues they were facing: divorce, a child’s sexual abuse by a step-dad, another divorce, an addiction which had caused continued issues, and more. I went to bed last night very troubled for these men. Now, back to Luke 8. Jesus, when he entered the boat with His disciples had just come from dealing with over 5000 men, doing some tremendous healing and ministering and then feeding them with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. He gets into the boat and sleeps. His trust in His Father is so complete He can sleep.
I was challenged this morning to take this time of reflection to heart. Instead of stewing (worrying) about these men’s issues, I need to thank God they were shared and know this same Jesus is the Healer today that He was over 2000 years ago. With this I can sleep in the midst of each storm. Wow! This Jesus of ours is AMAZING!
Yesterday as I was driving to the school district I was asking Jesus how He “blessed” those who hated him (were His enemies)? I was asking this in response to what I’d written in yesterday’s blog? Immediately I was reminded of what Jesus said on the Cross–“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34. These words of Jesus were stated when He was about to die having been crucified. My word–What a beautiful blessing He gave to those who were responsible for this torturous death.
I truly can say that my dad did not know he was causing such harm from his anger: physical beatings and scarring words. My mom knew to pray and that is what she did do. She had no idea how much I needed a moment of her tenderness. My brother was gratifying himself and had no idea he was creating within me such confusion about my identity and value. Today, I can truly say, “God, forgive them for they didn’t know what they were doing.”
As I write this I have such a sense of gratitude for God’s continuous, steadfast love which brings us fully to Him one step at a time. I believe that forgiving someone is our biggest example of blessing them. Today, I forgive. Even though I’ve said this in the past, today I say it with a depth of meaning I’ve never known until now.
Today’s journey has me rooted into something I’ve read over and over in scripture, but have not “heard” it until this morning. Luke 6:27&28 tells us we are to not only forgive our enemy (those who hurt and try to destroy us) but we are to also bless them. This morning God has begun to help me recognize my need to bless my father, brother and mom. I am not sure how I do this when all of them are gone, but I am ready to learn. What I do know is that what I say about them no longer condemns them, but it blesses their memories. I want to learn more about this, but this is my next step in my journey.
If man were to define what is on the plate for today he would say to get rid of half that is on it. However, each item has its importance and I know that God has prepared today, not man. I am walking into it “trusting all the while”.
The school I’ll be working with today has some major, immediate decisions to make. I’m not sure they are aware of this need, but by the end of today I pray they not only see the need but are open and ready to make changes. I am trusting that today will be one where LIGHT penetrates and opens minds and hearts to see what hasn’t been seen as of yet.
Tonight has its own importance also. Kathy and I have been meeting for a couple weeks with a younger couple whose marriage is severely struggling. The gentleman called me yesterday while I was driving to the district where I was spending the day. I could hardly believe all that he was telling me which took place over the weekend. Huge steps were taken. God is so amazing when we quit trying to do things our way and let Him Lead through our obedience to His Holy Spirit.
I go into today hopeful and trusting. God’s Light is already shining and I pray a door opens today allowing His Light to penetrate into what has been darkness.
The topic of shame and its toxicity is looming in the faces of each member of our class of men in Mending the Soul. Three years ago when I went through this for the first time I could hardly handle completing each part of the lesson while I led it. And, that was after all of my counseling and therapy. Now I am watching and listening to six more men tackle this topic. One member said he felt no shame because he doesn’t feel emotions. I rearranged the question asking if the reason he never talked about his abuse was due to his being ashamed? To this he acknowledged its truth. When he realized the root of something he was ashamed of was shame, he began to understand and to allow the beginning of this ugliness to surface.
The walls of protection our bodies do as a child when abuse takes place are not easily broken down as adults. However, this is what God is doing for each one of us as we work our way slowly through this process. Awakening must take place before healing can even start. I had wanted my healing to be the absence of any memory of my past. However, today I realize that God’s healing was quite the opposite. Instead of removing the memory, He creates the desire to use them as devices to help others put a crack in their own steel doors which have locked away their trauma. The Light of God’s Presence in this darkness is such a new experience that one feels naked and very vulnerable–a very uncomfortable place for a man to be in.
It is humbling and rewarding to watch God work and to be a part of this work. Our God is so AMAZING!
The message of YES still continues into today. And, as I write this I realize that from this day forward God is wanting me to know that to serve Him fully my response to His Holy Spirit’s nudges is to always be YES. I would imagine that each follower of Jesus Christ has come to this point in their walk where this reality hits. It is never going to be OK to question what I know the Holy Spirit is asking of me. As I begin to read the book of Luke, I read several times in just the first chapter where The Holy Spirit “came upon”, “spoke with” the characters in the chapter. In each case it was in response to their obedience. I know that God is nudging me to take heed to this message. So, this morning I wrote in my journal that I want to be God’s YES man.
What a wonderful God we get to serve. He takes us into places where we never thought we would be and with our YES to His Holy Spirit we find satisfaction we never knew was possible. WOW! God is so Good!