One of the beauties of Christianity is acquiring an intimate relationship with God, His Son Jesus and The Holy Spirit. Little did I know through most of my life how desperate I was to have this relationship. I deeply yearned for it, but I could never be good enough.
As I reflect on the messages of the men in our Mending the Soul class, I hear them desiring this same relationship. Having the confidence that God not only loves them now, but that throughout their lives when abuse was so prevalent, He loved them then too. This truth is one which most, if not all, abuse victims struggle. As I went through my years of counsel/therapy I would think, “OK, now that I understand this the relationship will be there.” Then, within hours that fragile confidence would fade into the old belief. It took many years following the therapy for God to anchor in me the truth of His Love and the strength and depth of our relationship.
I find myself enjoying relationships now and even seeking them. The alone time I have always enjoyed in life (thinking before this was the time I was safe) is now appreciated because I love to reflect on life and being alone allows for deep reflection and to find God’s perspective on things for which I’ve needed clarity.
I pray for these men to not go back into the denial where they lived prior to class. I trust God to keep His Light of Truth before them and as only He with His Holy Spirit will do, continue to awaken the Truth of His Love for each of them. God is truly our Loving Father.
The devotional message of yesterday continues into today. It centers around the theme of Jesus’ Truth. Jesus tells us to be careful with our tongue for it can bless as well as curse. The curse can often look like sharing a difficult story with someone else when we haven’t confronted it with the person we have the difficulty with. My devotional says we hurt three people when we do this: ourselves, the listener and the one being spoken about. Jesus never uses gossip. But, He does use our obedience. In Titus 3:2 we are told “to slander no one”.
A couple of years ago I had someone who slandered me and was doing so to some others. I did talk with this person but seemingly to no avail. I went to my prayer warrior to get good advice from her. In so doing I slandered this person to her. Instantly she reprimanded me for “putting a curse upon this person”. She told me I needed to ask God to forgive me for doing so. I was obedient and did do this, but the depth of this meaning didn’t hit home like it does today. It is so much like the scripture about the speck in one’s eye when we have a log in our own.
Confronting a problem is always difficult and particularly when it is a problem that has “hurt our pride”. Jesus tells us to confront it in love knowing we have also had our own sins which needed to be forgiven. To only talk about it with others rather than confront it with the one only spreads the poison allowing Satan to rejoice for he is the master of breaking relationships or keeping them from developing. I sure don’t want to give Him any fuel.
This morning’s devotional time was revealing a lesson for me which I never want to forget, but instead, grow in it. It all started with my journaling about some family items where I pray Jesus will do some deep level teaching. As I was reading my devotional its message centered around Jesus being Truth. If we live by truth we will live the life Jesus teaches us to live. Then, as I began to read the concluding two chapters of Colossians it all began to come together.
In Colossians 3 & 4 Paul is telling the followers of Jesus about peace. It is the genuine indicator of doing the will of Jesus. He tells something in these chapters which had never hit home to me like it has in today’s reading. He talks about our inner organs. If one of them is removed we pay big consequence and even physical death from the removal of most of them. When Jesus comes to live with us He lives within us. He is the organ of our spiritual life and we know we are pleasing Him with our living because we have peace within. When our inner organs are working well, we have no physical indications at all–our physical body is at peace. However, when something is wrong we have obvious indicators of pain. The lack of peace within is our key indicator that something is amiss with our spiritual living and its miss alignment with the Truth of Jesus.
Colossians 3: 5-9 lists several sinful behaviors which rob peace and we are told to kill these evil desires. Starting with vs 12 Paul writes about how to live in the Truth of Jesus. So, all of this is not necessarily new info, but the truth about Peace being our indicator of living in Truth is my anchor for today.
Yesterday’s absence of a post was due to taking 4 grandson’s black Friday shopping leaving our home at 4:30 am. We had quite the day! By 10:30 am we were back home and everyone’s presents had been purchased and the boys were beaming and looking forward to going back to bed! Grandma had the girls. They left a few minutes ahead of us and didn’t return until 6:45 pm last night. I knew I was very glad to shop with only boys.
God is really driving a message home for me this morning. It started as I was journaling to Him thanking Him for Jesus being my Savior, and then Lord and then being my best Friend. I wrote that being Christ’s friend has been such a challenge mainly due to unworthiness. I then began the book of Colossians where Joyce Meyer writes that this small book is all about helping people understand the depth of love Christ has for us. She writes, “The glory of God is His manifested excellence…. Satan furiously fights the plan of God in each of our lives, and his primary weapon is deception. when we are deceived, we believe something that is not true. Even though it is not true, it seems true to us because that is what we believe…. We limit ourselves when we look to ourselves alone and fail to see Jesus.”
I don’t know about you, but I struggle immensely to look at myself and see Jesus. Yet, this challenge to do so is important. Of course I am not worthy of Jesus, none of us are; but, Jesus death and resurrection has created a worthiness for you and me that we can believe because it is TRUE! If I fail to see this and believe it I continue to fall into Satan’s deception. Today I rejoice in Jesus my Savior, my Lord and my Best Friend!
It is Thanksgiving Day and just like God, He gave me a message I needed to hear directly from Him and His Word. I lose track of what I’ve said in this blog over time so I don’t know if I’ve shared this tidbit or not. If I have, please forgive me for doing so again. Last March when our grandson was making his plans to enter the Air Force he asked grandma and me if we’d begin to have our kids and grandkids over each Sunday so he could spend valuable time with them before he left the first of June. We started doing this in spite of the friction within some present relationships. Our grandson had said to me that he was praying these get-togethers would bring about a healing for everyone. Kathy and I joined him in this.
Amazingly, by June when Dante left, the kids wanted to continue the get-togethers each Sunday so we have done so. The healing was taking place in relationships. As should be expected, a wrench was thrown into these budding relationships last night. As I was journaling and reading my scripture this morning I came across this writing of Joyce Meyer supporting the words of Paul in Philippians. She writes, “In Philippians 4:5 the apostle Paul teaches us how to solve our problems. He instructs us to pray ‘with thanksgiving’ in every circumstance. The Lord taught the same principle to me this way, ‘Joyce, why should I give you anything else, if you are not thankful for what you already have? Why should I give you something else to complain about?’ If we cannot offer our current prayer requests from the foundation of a life that is currently filled with thanksgiving, we will not get a favorable response. The Word does not instruct us to pray with complaining, it says to pray with thanksgiving.”
This morning I praise God that even when strife enters our relationships, He will be glorified and the relationships will prosper. I believe in God’s Strength which is stronger than any of man’s difficulties fed by the undercurrent of Satan. Today, I give THANKS!
Thanksgiving is approaching and today is my day to do my part–making a couple of berry pies. It is fun to raise the berries and now share them in the form of pies. The grandkids like them which makes it even more fun.
Last Sunday I gave the participants of our Mending the Soul class an assignment I’d created for “them”. It is a 3 column chart where we place our comments in the 3 categories: “Now I know/understand”, “What I now wonder about?” and (complete the sentence starters:) “No, I just can’t….”, and “I still won’t accept….” Completing the chart will hopefully allow the participants to see where freedom has been found, freedom is being unearthed and where darkness still lies. I felt nudged to do this for the other guys, but as I begin to complete the chart myself I find my own interesting realities. I wasn’t even planning to complete it, but on the other hand, I knew I should and now I’m glad I am doing it.
God has so much purpose and meaning for our lives once we begin to see life as intentionally purposeful for God’s Kingdom’s growth. What I’ve thought was to be kept hidden is now intentionally kept in the Light. This is an item I’ve placed in the first column–Now I Know.
Yesterday was one of those days where I sit back at the end of it and thank God He gave it to me. As winter is approaching I only truly rest when my yard is nicely tucked away with leaves gone, lawn mowed for the last time and flower beds cleaned and trimmed. Well, yesterday was the concluding day for me. One of my grandsons came and helped bag the leaves we had raked on Saturday. We had that done and by then the sun was beautifully shining so I got the mower out and began the final mowing. My son in law’s goats are all happy with the fodder they now have and I’m a content gardener ready for winter to set in.
God is faithful to the end. He promises this over and over again as I read through the books Paul wrote in the New Testament. I am just starting Philippians and we are to be filled with JOY the Word says. The Jewish people who were now believers were the first generation to have the freedom from the laws of the Old Testament. That, in and of itself, would be a joy to me. Now, over 2000 years later the truth is still as real as it was for this new group of Christians. I want to choose joy no matter what the circumstances. Thanksgiving week is a good time to make a choice like this too.
There seem to be a number of reasons I could not go back to sleep this morning when I awoke due to my wife’s talking loudly in her sleep. I nudged her and the talking stopped, but I seemed to be wide awake. I had a good deal to journal about which God and I took care of. Now, it seems I need to walk through the class yesterday.
Forgiveness is a remarkable act. When I first looked at forgiveness connected to abuse, it only seemed the victim of abuse needed to be asked for forgiveness from the abuser. Yet, having walked this journey thus far, I’ve found my need to ask forgiveness for so many of my own actions. Things like not letting God step in much sooner, my inability to even want to trust God, my pride about not thinking I needed any more counseling only to find I needed years more. There are more but I’m sure you get the point.
Yesterday, one of the gentlemen in the class pointed out that he felt depressed at this point and had shared this with his wife. He said she told him she thought he was grieving the loss of his childhood. This gentleman throughout our months of class kept saying he just didn’t feel any emotion. Well, he is finally feeling and depression is a huge step into the emotions of overcoming. It coincides with anger, bitterness and resentment. Once one realizes these emotions only expose the depth of hurt we feel, they do nothing to correct the abuse. Depression steps in realizing we are helpless to do this work on our own. It is so much bigger than any ability we have. It is then that our God we haven’t been able to trust becomes a better possibility after all. I don’t mean to be trite here, but this reality is very true–I’ve walked this road. It is here we find the arms of Jesus opened wide. Eventually, we realize He had never abandoned us after all. The Light of Jesus is penetrating new darkness and it is a Healing Light!
A couple months ago our choir director asked if I’d sing a solo portion in the song our choir is doing today in a couple hours. I said yes to her and have been nervous since. I’m told the song has a steady rhythm to it, but my senses don’t seem to pick up on it. I have listened and listened to it and can sing it just fine at home, but when choir time comes, my nerves take over. So, this morning is the time. I know God’s Holy Spirit will do His Work for Jesus is to be mightily Glorified. The song is “Midnight Cry”. I surrender!
Today is also the beginning of the last chapter in Mending the Soul class. The title of the chapter is “Forgiveness”. It is the final test–Are we able now to forgive? No matter what the abuse was, looked like, felt like, damaged our beliefs and so much more; am I able to forgive? We will be stepping into this today. I know God’s Holy Spirit has been at work with each of these men. I place my trust in Him for this is His Work. I know what He has done for me and I praise Him for this. To God be the GLORY!
This morning as I began to pray from my prayer list I circled the names of those who are having physical issues. My oldest sis is in hospice care, my sis just older than me is still in the hospital having had a stroke last weekend, my sis in law has been diagnosed with colon cancer and her surgery will be Dec. 16, my nephew is in Portland, OR having had a stem-cell transplant yesterday for a rare type of bone cancer, and our good friend is in Reno for breast cancer treatments. My heart has been heavy for them even though I know God is with each one of them and their closest family members who wish they could be with them, but in most cases can’t be due to current circumstances.
It was good to take a moment and circle each one of these names on my prayer list. I just wanted to tell God, “for heaven’s sake, just touch them and heal them?” However, God tenderly reminded me that He is in charge of each one and I can trust Him completely with His care for them. My oldest living sis who is in hospice care has said she is ready and wants to go. Her strength is gone and much of the time she isn’t with us anyway due to her dementia. This human side of life isn’t kind, but God has given us a promise I will cling to until I join Him. We have an eternal home with God our Father and I’m so grateful for this promise. It keeps perspective in place when all these physical ailments are tormenting us.
My journey’s message is just a confession today I needed to process here. Thanks for listening.