Sometimes the journey takes us away and today is one of them. We are leaving early this morning for Branson, MO. Our original plan was to leave this weekend for a trip to Greece & Turkey which was one to follow the journeys of Paul. This is the 2nd time this trip has been cancelled. In lieu of this, we decided to go to Branson. It is a place we have talked about but never done, so here we go. I’ll be back tomorrow with a better writeup. The good news–God is in Branson too!
A young father shared with me recently that he just didn’t know how to trust God. He and his wife had divorced and he didn’t trust the parenting the kids received while with her. When he said this I was reminded of my own experience 42 years ago when my oldest two were only 2 & 4 years of age. My wife left me and moved the day of the divorce and I didn’t even know they were moving. She and my two kids were someplace and I had no idea where. I remember going to the church that night after school and bared my soul before God weeping and pleading for Him to protect my kids. I knew I had to surrender them to Him, but where were they?
I shared with the young father this story and told him that 42 years later these two little kids are now 44 & 46. Both are serving God diligently and thank me for being a stable father throughout their lives. God had not abandoned my kids or me and He certainly hasn’t abandoned him or his own kids. He began to cry and we prayed together.
This morning as I had my devotions I was nudged to contact this young father with a note of encouragement. I remembered those who reached out to me so many years ago and I needed to do the same for him. Encouragement is a tremendous antibiotic for a hurting soul.
Last night at Celebrate Recovery we began the cycle of lessons which start with DENIAL. The word DENIAL is an acrostic where the D=deny feelings. The L=lengthens the pain. As we went to our share groups following the lesson our topic question was: “What areas of your life are you now beginning to face the truth and break the effects of denial?” I was being nudged to talk about my awakening to the D & L. I had lived my entire life denying feelings which dad had crushed so many times in my childhood labeling me a sissy, a girl (even naming me Hazel when in high school), etc. For several years after I’d started CR I denied much of this. Last night I tied together the L with the D. I suddenly realized I had lengthened my pain by this denial.
The other part of my childhood where I’ve tried to deny the pain is from my brother’s sexual abuse. I’ve said over and over I would be stronger than this. I worked very hard to deny the pain all the while I was lengthening it. The lesson even disclosed that in denying the pain it eventually turns it into shame. That is exactly what happened to me. All of this made me question my own value to God. All of this too made Satan smile since he had his choke hold on me.
As I shared this awakening last night in group, one of the young men talked with me following the group sharing. He wanted to know if I’d sponsor him because he is struggling with what I shared and needs help. This morning as I journaled, God was reminding me again how important it is to be willing to share our stories and His connection to them as we walk our journey of recovery. He never wastes any of it. Once again I’m reminded just how kind and thoughtful our God is.
Today in my scripture reading in Acts I come upon “circumcised heart”. It is not often one hears this term, but we know a lot about circumcision. In essence, when we circumcise we cut away and expose. Joyce Meyers writes that we need to cut away anything that our heart wants to keep just for us, just for momentary pleasure, etc., when it goes directly against what we know God doesn’t find pleasing to Him. We can rationalize all we want that “this is ok”. It is only ________________. But, in the end we sense guilt and shame when these times happen.
It find it very fitting to have this clarity as part of the same book where The Holy Spirit is gifted to the followers of Jesus. At this point in my life I do want everything I do to be pleasing and acceptable to God. In order for this to take place I truly need to circumcise my heart of all selfish items I know are my desires but are not pleasing to God.
The journey of living for Jesus will bring each of us to this point. I find myself being brought to this point far more than once. There is always something else God wants me to cut away. It is truly awakening to know that the cutting away–when we finally get to this point–has little or no pain involved. It is like handing over something that has turned sour to God who is making me into the beautiful creation He meant for me all along. God is so Amazing!
All of a sudden today I have places to go and things to get done, but I don’t have the clear picture in my head how it is to happen. I will simply show up and wait to see how the day will unfold. When this would happen in my past I would be stewing inside putting a plan in place regardless of any clear picture. I couldn’t stand to not know a plan. Today I do have that same sense of urgency to get a plan created, but I also have a restraint which tells me I am not to try and take charge when I am not to be the one in charge. I know this restraint is from The Holy Spirit. In fact, when I was journaling about this earlier this morning and asked God what He wanted me to know for today, He reminded me to be a good listener today. Listen well before anything is said on my part. I need to keep this in the upfront of my mind today (and likely everyday).
Our God is truly AMAZING. Trusting Him when life around you needs structure and you are not the one to put structure to it, can be frustrating. However, I’ve learned that God’s Perfect Timing is always–PERFECT! My timing is nothing but interfering when I choose to insert my ways. I want to be a good and faithful servant today.
Today I am writing this blog entry with my mind flooded with wonder. As I began my journey to freedom back in 2007 little did I know what was in store. I had a couple of things at the time which would determine freedom for me. One was the ability to tell my story to others and the other was God would take away the desire to use porn and the gay thoughts. This would be freedom!
In the 15 years of intentional work I’ve come to realize that the work was not mine–it had already been done by Christ. Over the years I’ve needed to surrender what I was hanging onto so Christ’s healing work on the Cross could do it’s powerful work within me. Secondly, and more recently, I’ve begun to discover what God’s Love for each of us is all about. God doesn’t just love us, He is Love. The book of John portrays this so well.
Now, as I’m beginning the book of Acts I’m seeing with much clearer eyes, the result of God’s Love for us. He enables us to use our story as a love gift for others. Along with this sharing comes God’s Healing. Peter and John, through the Power of The Holy Spirit within them, heal a crippled man due to their Faith in Jesus Christ. They now recognize the Power Christ has provided them through The Holy Spirit. Today, God is awakening in me that this same Power is ours–mine to use for Him through the same Holy Spirit and all in the Name of His Son–Jesus.
As my journey continues I am humbly awakened to the reservoirs of Heavenly Power God is waiting to unleash as I–we better understand Who He Is and who we are in His Son’s Name–Jesus, The Savior and Lord of this very world!
Yesterday’s class, Mending the Soul, brought about some remarkable awakening for the class members. We stepped into the chapter which addresses the darkness of the room we built for ourselves protecting us from what we feared. Little did we know at the time we were walling ourselves off from the sensitive love and grace God has for us. The chapter takes one through the process of recognizing these walls and the worthwhileness of taking a step outside of these walls to “trust” (even for a moment) God’s nudge through His Holy Spirit. Some didn’t think they were ready to take this step until it was pointed out that they had already taken it by attending this class. There are now 6 additional people who know each one’s story. All of this was done outside of the walls of protection each one of us had built. One of the class members said that he could now see a glimmer of God’s Light into his own darkness resulting from this class. He has a horrific story so this is truly a wonderful testimony of God’s penetrating Light into darkness for which Satan wants us to live.
The book of ACTS addresses the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit coming upon us. Little did I ever believe I could be the home of such a Pure and Holy Being, yet, here I sit, writing about this truth. Behind the wall I had built I was hanging onto my past for dear life knowing life would be destroyed it I revealed my past. Now, all these years later, I know that this past is being used by God’s Holy Spirit to help others find this same Light for their own healing. It is truly amazing what God does with such ugliness. How I love Him for this!
Yesterday I finished the gospels so today I began reading the book of Acts. I love the discoveries I continue to find at this age in my life. I often wish I could have been this awake at a much younger age! The title of the book, Acts, tells us it is time to take Action. However, the command of Jesus was to wait in prayer until The Holy Spirit has come upon you. I remember all too well saying I can move forward with “this” because I know what to do. I just need to wait on this one because I don’t know what to do. I was missing a major ingredient and that was the timing of God. When The Holy Spirit opens the door for action, I have found that I know this within from His nudge. It is different than my adrenalin telling me to take care of this. God wants His Son Jesus to lead in every aspect of our lives through His Gift of The Holy Spirit. I am never to separate out where I need The Holy Spirit. If I am living fully for God I need Him in every aspect of my life and from Him I need to respond by waiting or taking action.
The disciples had Jesus with them for 3 years. Then, they were without Him and told to wait until this anointing of The Holy Spirit. Learning to live from The Spirit’s leadership in our lives is very different from responding to an external motivation. Our own selfish nature is what we know first and foremost. Learning to discipline ourselves to hold in check our own desires until we know the nudge of The Holy Spirit is a genuine step of spiritual maturity. For me it is not a one time lesson. But, God is patient!
The desire of my heart is to not only know The Holy Spirit but to also trust Him completely in every aspect of my living. He is the very essence of Jesus living with the disciples for the 3 years. Yet, we get Him within us always. Today I give to Him every room in my life so I can serve God hitting on all cylinders.
It is good to be home. The trip to Montana is like a time warp as I think about it now. Anytime I go like this and work morning, noon, night and then immediately return, I feel this way. However, no matter what the feeling is, I rejoice in the Light God shed. Each site has a plan for moving forward along with a plan to clean out what is needed. I love the fact that the majority of them are believers so God’s Name can be used with agreement.
Yesterday I journaled something that I don’t want to reveal because it doesn’t need to be known by some readers. However, it was a tender message from my heart to Him and I just wasn’t sure what He would do with it. As I was driving home last night from the airport my wife was telling me some things which had taken place in my absence. One of those messages was my journaling request to God. As I write this now I just well up inside. God is such a tender-loving God. He cares so deeply about the souls of man. No matter the issues at hand, God wants to help us work through them so we can know Him as our Intimate God who cares deeply about His creation–us! How I Praise Him for this tender, caring nature.
As I went into yesterday I had no idea that “the garden” I wrote about was the right descriptor. The school (being compared to a garden) had been tilled, the right seeds were present and all of the fertilizer was ready to be applied. However, what had not been addressed is the “thistle patch”. If you know thistles you know that you can dig them out and even spray them, but their roots go so deep they will reappear and choke out any crop. They also have these thorny leaves making them difficult for anyone to address. The thistle patch was identified yesterday and a plan of action was prepared. The evidence of the patch and the roots of it were made known. All of the other work of the day was set aside in order to complete this. All of us were emotionally spent by last night, but it was a “spent” well worth taking place.
God is interested in every detail of our living. This truth about this is very evident. Today as I go to the other school I pray for the same to happen. The site has very different needs, but hindrances need to be identified so they do not block the first and only purpose of schools–to educate well all students within them.
I will be heading home tonight. When I was questioning myself the first part of this week about being here, I was reminded by God to look up to Him and release my fear knowing fear is a temptation and it is a sin if I respond to it rather than to what God has asked me to do. Now that I’m here and walking the path God intended I know why Satan wanted me to act on the fear. I also thank God that He is the Gardener Who knows just how to handle Satan’s thistle patches. I love gardening with this Master Gardener!