“I love you, LORD, my strength.The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverermy God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
What a magnificent concept; Renewal – to make something New AGAIN!
My journey through the valley of despair as it were, is still quite ongoing and still monumentally difficult and often very painful. Each day something new arises to remind me that i am broken.
BUT THAT’S THE KEY! How can a person ever hope to be restored, not only wto what our life once looked like, but restored to the Life God has intended for us to be living if what they have built their life into isn’t first stripped away..
Depression and consequences of choices made often seem to build on one another creating a sort of Inner Perfect Storm. There’s always this black cloud following me from the moment I arise each morning until I finally drift to sleep each night. each day I awaken with the ever-present sadness that has plagued my life as of late. Trying to find a way out of the chaos and a path to the end of my pain is most all I ever think about. Perhaps, i’m unhappy, uncontent and without peace because I’m not living the life God has planned for me. Which brings mye full-circle to the state of being broken. To most of my peers, colleagues family and friends, this means there is something wrong with me,that must be repaired or set right. I can get back to being “Morgan”, but the more I gaze into the heart of the Father the more I begin to see myself through his eyes and from his vantage point. It’s hard, change always is. It’s rough and real change, the kind that transforms something most would simply discard into something new and old, beautiful and weathered, and something that is once again useful.
Through therapy I’ve learned a lot of skills that allow me to cope with the different challenges I face. It’s a new fight each day. Sometimes I win, not always, but the ratio of wins to losses is increasing all the time. But, in times of “high” stress, not the debilitating kind, but the times where I must turn my mind, I stumbled across my new hobby woodworking.
This is where I find some beautiful inspiration. I love the idea of taking things like old wood from a barn or old-style paned glass windows and turning these things into furniture. It involves restoration and renewal; two sides of the same coin, but each important.
Restoration takes things most would consider to have served its purpose and is no longer useful and putting in time, energy and a lot of work to breathe new life into once was considered “Dead”. Restoration begins by striping away all the former finish to reveal the unblemished surface beneath. This process is always abrasive and takes a lot of work; yet is arguably the most important step on the road to renewal. If you don’t get all the old off, the new will not hold.
The Psalmist speaks of how god views “broken” people in Psalms 51:7-17
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is<sup class="footnote" value="[b]”> a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise”
What is astonishing to me is that we all continue chasing after our own desires. Many of us struggle to grab hold of a dream that doesn’t turn out to be a nightmare; or we find ourselves shipwrecked when our dreams come true, yet they were nothing like what we imagined. Certain were we, that THIS life was what we wanted, what would make us happy, whole, complete and what we would die for; yet, instead it almost kills us. It is exhausting trudging through life always thinking, “If I could just get that job or that house or that car or whatever we imagine up for ourselves, then everything would be ok.” Only to discover that even if those things are achieved and those things are achieved and those dreams realized – they simply aren’t enough. We find ourselves still searching for something more; something to fill the emptiness we feel deep within. Its exactly this point that led me to my current state of brokenness. Dreams seized and promptly self-shattered.
So, I find myself scattered into pieces; struggling, straining to figure out how to put myself back together. But what if…
What if God doesn’t want me put back together? What if God wants to take those random bits of me and restore the person whom He created and called to His service. to take what once was filthy, old and ugly and turn it into something bold and beautiful.
To be continued….
It is ironic how the thing that we often view as the “worst possible” circumstance or outcome or situation we may find ourselves becomes the thing from which the greatest milestones are made.
I very recently came to the point in which I couldn’t promise even myself that I wouldn’t take actions to harm myself. For me, looking into the future is a dismal exercise; yet, it is the future that I most always look toward and plan for. More often than not I see nothing but emptiness, darkness, a vast nothing that is more than overwhelming. Other times I see a pitiful existence that is one of isolation and loneliness. And then, like brilliant rays of sunlight breaking through the clouds, I get a glimpse of the life that God has laid out for me; a life worth living.
Which brings me to it; the event that allowed me the “time” and “place” to be in a position to look at my situation and affliction through the Father’s Eyes. On friday of this week I had another attempt on my life. This time I was resolute; determined to make this one the last attempt and first Success. It seems God had other plans. Somehow, I managed to gain enough composure and rational thought to call my therapist as I was on my way to the hospital. I was driving myself to the E.R. She was concerned about the cut on my wrist and whether the bleeding was severe. I assured her it wasn’t. After many hours and tests and doctors and blood work and recounting what I’ve been struggling for the millionth time; it was decided that I be admitted to the inpatient psychiatry ward of Tripler Army Medical Center. The outcome was that i FINALLY received adequate psychiatry care and proper meds that actually help.
The turning point for me though was not the docs or the meds, it was when the chaplain came to run one of the group sessions. This chaplain however, was an islamic Chaplain. He decided to speak on the topic of forgiveness. AWESOME! Then he asked two questions; the first, whom does forgiveness serve and second, am I worthy of forgiveness. And here is where our thinking diverged. His claim was that forgiveness serves the receiver and that we are born ‘noble human beings’ and ARE worthy of forgiveness. Ok…the forgiveness serves the reciever i can sort of go with that as an explanation, but that leaves out one of the most important, in my opinion, in all of scripture…and that is to every truly experience anything in life you must first give it away. The greatest example is John 3:16; for God so LOVED the world that He GAVE his only begotten son….” True Forgiveness; that which keeps no record and holds no grudge….TRUE forgiveness is FOR the GIVER. If frees the giver from all the negative aspects of being wounded carry…fear, anger, depression, etc. I turn to the story of Joseph for the greatest example of a man whom had every reason to hold a grudge and been justified in doing so, yet, chose to look at the course of his life as necessary for the salvation of his whole family.
“You intended to harm me, but God meant it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
But as for you, ye thought evil against me,…. That must be said and owned, that their intentions were bad; they thought to have contradicted his dreams, and made them of none effect, to have token away his life, or however to have made him a slave all his days: but God meant it unto good; he designed good should come by it, and he brought good out of it: this shows that this action, which was sinful in itself, fell under the decree of God, or was the object of it, and that there was a concourse of providence in it; not that God was the author of sin, which neither his decree about it, nor the concourse of providence with the action as such supposes; he leaving the sinner wholly to his own will in it, and having no concern in the ataxy or disorder of it, but in the issue, through his infinite wisdom, causes it to work for good, as follows:to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive; the nation of the Egyptians and the neighbouring nations, as the Canaanites and others, and particularly his father’s family: thus the sin of the Jews in crucifying Christ, which, notwithstanding the determinate counsel of God, they most freely performed, was what wrought about the greatest good, the salvation of men.
So, while forgiveness, real, genuine forgiveness will have transitory effects which will flow to the receiver; it is FOR the Giver. It frees them up to go about doing the business of the father and get what needs to be done accomplished.
There is so much more to it than that simple explanation. I highly recommend reading the book “Total Forgiveness” by Pastor R.T. Kendell.
Now, as to the issue of the worthiness of Forgiveness. To claim that one is automatically worthy for forgiveness is entirely ludicrous. The very idea of forgiveness implies that there is a NEED to be forgiven, which further implies that an act, thought, word or even emotion fundamentally caused another or oneself harm. But, all this is in regards to choices we are faced with. Worthiness of forgiveness for “original sin”, if you want to call it that, is another thing all together. To be forgiven for a STATE of BEING is another animal all together. We are not WORTHY for a perfect, righteous and Holy God to pardon us for going and doing the one thing He told us not to do; in my mind I call that betrayal and disobedience. i didn’t commit the crime but still suffer the affects of that decision. And, I am not worthy for God Almighty to take on flesh and suffer and die as payment for my sin. That is what makes forgiveness such a beautiful thing. God did not allow His son to die for us, He allowed Christ to die for himself. Jesus didn’t die FOR us, He did so FOR God.
Broadly based political parties have declined in their ability to aggregate issues into coherent ideological packages linked to the aspirations of major social groupings. The vacuum created has been filled by fragmented forms of single issue politics. This is often characterized by a preoccupation with the particular issue to the exclusion of all others, an intensity of feeling about the issue and a willingness to devote considerable resources of time and money to its pursuit.
The Church in America has declined in its ability to aggregate theologies into coherent doctrinal packages linked to the aspirations of God. The vacuum created has been filled by fragmented forms of single issue theologies. This is often characterized by a preoccupation with a particular theology to the exclusion of all others, an intensity of feeling about the theology and a willingness to devote considerable resources of speaking and writing to its proliferation. This is also marked by an inability to find common ground with other Christians who disagree about this one particular theology.
|Some single issue theologians focus solely on the wrath of God to the exclusion of the love of God.|
|Other single issue theologians focus solely on the love of God to the exclusion of the wrath of God.|
|Does your perspective prevent you from seeing things accurately?|
I pray that I will be able to openly accept loving correction from others. I pray that God will give me the wisdom and insight to examine my life as objectively as I can for His glory. I also pray that I will have the humility to listen to my fellow Christians when they hold me accountable.
An ounce of mother is worth a pound of energy.
The Christian servant must never forget that salvation is God’s idea, not man’s; therefore, it has an unfathomable depth. Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is simply the door through which salvation comes into the conscious level of our life so that we are aware of what has taken place on a much deeper level. Never preach the experience— preach the great thought of God behind the experience. When we preach, we are not simply proclaiming how people can be saved from hell and be made moral and pure; we are conveying good news about God.In the teachings of Jesus Christ the element of judgment is always brought out— it is the sign of the love of God. Never sympathize with someone who finds it difficult to get to God; God is not to blame. It is not for us to figure out the reason for the difficulty, but only to present the truth of God so that the Spirit of God will reveal what is wrong. The greatest test of the quality of our preaching is whether or not it brings everyone to judgment. When the truth is preached, the Spirit of God brings each person face to face with God Himself.If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that He was unable to equip us to accomplish, He would be a liar. And if we make our own inability a stumbling block or an excuse not to be obedient, it means that we are telling God that there is something which He has not yet taken into account. Every element of our own self-reliance must be put to death by the power of God. The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power.
The beautiful reality that salvation is God’s idea; not ours. For me, this liberates me from any type of works-based salvation. Salvation is God’s idea and, therefore, God’s gift.
Authentic appreciation of the gift of salvation grows out of an understanding of God’s judgment. I truly believe that we don’t understand the value of God’s gift unless we understand the cost of God’s gift.
Because this gift is something we did nothing to earn (in fact, it’s impossible for us to earn) we must realize that self-reliance is foolishness. It is in our weakness that God shows His strength most clearly.
|Joshua 7:24-25: “The Stoning of Achan”|
For his dominion is an everlasting dominion,and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,and he does according to his will among the host of heavenand among the inhabitants of the earth;and none can stay his handor say to him, “What have you done?”
- Achan had seen God’s power in undeniable ways and knowingly signed his own death warrant when he denied God’s authority.
- Achan’s selfish trespass could have easily led to the deaths of thousands of others had they witnessed his disobedience go unpunished and decided to imitate his rebellion.
- Achan lacked any power or authority to question God or to stop Him.
|Image courtesy of Jim Rohan|