Category Archives: Choices

Overcoming Behaviour Tendencies

I know that our behaviour can be self regulated. When we are upset sometimes it helps to have a good friend to pick us up, but in the end, we get to choose how we will act in our circumstances.

Probable everyone has over-reacted. Most people have been “out of control” at one time or another either in anger or in frustration. At one time I believed that it was impossible to change this tendency. Having seen the anger lose it’s hold on me and knowing the peace that rules over me most of the time (nobody’s perfect), I now know that our behaviour can change. 

When a person is deeply hurt it often is expressed in anger. That anger will grow into a storm of bad behaviours if gone unchecked. Sometimes only love can calm the storm. 

The Night Before the Wedding

One dramatic example of this happened a few years ago. (Names and details have been changed) Mary’s daughter was getting married. Mary herself was separated from her husband and her husband was in another relationship and she was heartbroken. Furthermore, she was homeless at the time of the wedding, with very little income and was doing everything she could to put a wedding together. Her husband had moved his lover into their home the week of the wedding. It couldn’t get any worse as far as she was concerned.

The night before the wedding, her whole family gathered at her former home with her husband and his lover. She wasn’t invited and her heart hurt deeply. She became angry. When the phone rang, she snapped out a brisk hello.

“Hey, honey,” her friend said. “How are you doing?”

“How do you think I’m doing?” Mary cried. “My daughter is getting married tomorrow. This should be a family event and I’ve done all the work and this is how I get rewarded…” On and on she went, spilling out her bitter disappointment and hurt over the past two to three years about how she felt abandoned etc., etc.

Her friend listened quietly without interruption allowing Mary to wind down. Mary poured out her heart until she was spent. Then her friend quietly spoke to her.

“Mary, may I say something to you as your friend?” she asked. Then she waited for a response.

Mary warily replied, “Yes.”

“Honey, you know I love you and I say this with your best in mind.”

Mary bristled. “Okay, keep going,” she said.

“I need to tell you to go and get your big girl panties on and take off those little girl panties.” Mary’s friend told her.

Mary had never heard that figure of speech before and stared at her wall in silence while she tried to think what that could mean.

“This wedding is not about you or your ex-husband, it’s about your daughter and it’s her wedding day tomorrow. You have to be the most mature person at that wedding tomorrow and you have to make it a wonderful experience for them. Can you do that?” 

“I, I think I can,” Mary stammered.

“Then my job is done here, honey” her friend replied. “I’ll be praying for you and your family tomorrow.” Then she bid her friend adieu.

Mary’s anger ground to a halt. She was stunned. She sorted through the short conversation and considered the message. She had a decision to make. It was made as she imagined her daughter walking down the aisle on her father’s arm the next day. Yes, her ex-husband was a part of the wedding but it was her daughter she focused on. Her daughter was looking at her in her vision of the morrow. She was searching with hope that her mother would be happy for her and that she would be celebrating the most important day of her life with her. It made all the difference in the world. Mary got busy and finished the last-minute details quickly. She had a big day ahead.

The Day of the Wedding

I got to attend that wedding the next day. It began with a bit of tension, but it ended very well. Mary used the rest of her evening the night before the wedding crafting a fun skit for the young couple, describing how they met and fell in love. She enlisted the couple’s siblings and engaged the whole crowd in her skit and it ended with everyone participating, laughing and applauding. 

Mary was able, with the help of a friend, to change her whole outlook and rose above her circumstances. She was no longer a slave to her husband’s actions. Even her children were unaware of how difficult it had been for her as told to me by one of her sons. How different the wedding might have been if she hadn’t gotten that phone call or hadn’t accepted the words of a friend. Can you see God’s hand in all this?

This is a good example of the choices we get to make when we are in distress or we are in deep pain. God will send us help and give us creative solutions at times of trouble. It is tragic that more people don’t accept the help so readily available to us.

My prayer for you is that you will seek the help you need, and that you will keep on seeking it until you find it. It is also my hope that when you are presented an opportunity to receive help that you will be humble enough to receive it. Then the peace of Christ that passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind and you will be more open to God’s solutions. Conquering our difficult circumstances is one of those things God does very well.

More on Growing Fruit

Making Room for Fruit to Grow 

The Bible names nine fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: 22 & 23. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In my early years as a Christian, I had few of these character traits in my life. I was a deeply troubled young lady. As I learned the Bible, I learned about God’s character and found out that He has all of them. 

When I got to the Book of Galatians and read about the fruit of the Spirit, I tried really, really hard to grow in love and patience especially. I tried for years. The harder I tried the more difficult it seemed. I had this verse on a plaque over my stove so that I would be reminded daily to try harder.  

One day I had one of those “God moments”. I thought I heard His voice in my head having a conversation with me telling me that the fruit of the Spirit was not the fruit of Muriel but of the Spirit. From that day on I began to ask Him to grow more fruit in me and He did. 

 Stumped 

One day it seemed that I had stalled. It seemed to me that although there was evidence that I was more patient and perhaps more self-controlled, even kinder and gentler towards my family, I had not increased in the production of this fruit for some time.  

I went to my quiet place late one evening when everyone was in bed to seriously think about why this was. I was looking for sin in my life and asking the Lord to examine my heart. I took care of some business repenting and confessing sins that I was aware of. I asked for help correcting some of my attitudes and forgave everyone I could think of that may have hurt or offended me. I thought it was all good between God and me and I think at the time I was as thorough as I could be. 

Breakthrough 

Yet even though I tried very hard to keep a short list with Him, I still did not see an improvement or increase in the growth of these fruit. It was around that time that I was introduced to the work and teaching of Neil Anderson. He wrote several books: The Bondage Breaker and Walking Through the Darkness among others. I met him in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where he taught us how to be free from bondage that restricted our growth spiritually. I took every course he had. That began a new phase in my journey. I realized that there was more to the spiritual life than just forgiving others and then repenting and confessing my own sin. 

Learning and practicing what Dr. Anderson taught me got the growth of the fruit of the Spirit growing again. Cutting soul ties and renouncing the practices of my ancestors really helped me to see that life was not just about me and I was able to move out of old habits more easily. 

After learning that, I also found out about Transformational Prayer Ministry by Dr. Ed Smith. That was a real eye opener for me. The idea that the enemy plants lies into our lives that can hinder us from ever enjoying the new life Jesus paid for us to have with His blood on the cross was totally radical to me. The idea that the Lord would be willing to nullify the lies we believe with His truth was revelatory.  

Since learning about these methods of being freed from the plans and schemes of the enemy, not only have I grown more fruit in my life, I’ve also grown in my relationship to God as my Father, and Jesus as my closest companion. My life has gotten richer with the Holy Spirit being my helper  and I’ve navigated some of my most difficult seasons with the Lord in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The learning curve was steep sometimes, but it’s all worth it. 

My Prayer for You 

I wish you the best on your journey. May you discover the keys of growing more love, joy and peace in your life. May you enjoy an increase of patience, kindness and goodness. May those around you notice how faithful, gentle and self-controlled you have become. As the Bible says, “There is no law against these things.” 

 

 

How Emotional Healing Aided a Physical Healing

The Experiment

Over the years I’ve had opportunity to experiment with the connection between emotional pain and physical pain.  Sometimes the results have been astounding. One of my earlier trials of this kind of connection came when I was staying with a friend. I’ll call her Betsy. When I first arrived, she greeted me warmly and quickly put the coffee on so we could settle down for a nice long chat. I noticed she was limping around the stove and asked her about it. 

Apologetically, she told me she was not able to stand long and showed me her knee which was swollen to double its normal size. It was stretching her pants. Her other knee seemed fine. She was very discouraged by the pain.

I asked her if she had the time and energy for a bit of prayer. She nodded her head. I explained to Betsy that sometimes our physical pain is connected to something in our history and I’m going to ask the Lord to reveal where the source of your pain is coming from.  Then I prayed, “Lord, where did this pain and swelling begin? What crack in her history did it slip into?”

Then I asked her if anything came to mind. Her response was, “Well I thought of something right away, but that was years ago. What would that have to do with today?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “What did you think about?”

“Well, I was thinking about our first year of marriage, about thirty years ago.” Betsy continued, “We were so in love and so poor, and I was so happy then. When we found out we were expecting our first child, my husband decided he should get a better paying job because he didn’t want me to have to work while we were raising our children. His job took him out of town a lot and I hated that he wasn’t always home every night and I missed him so much.”

“How did that make you feel?” I asked.

“I felt lonely and abandoned. I was so scared during my first pregnancy. You couldn’t just make a phone call and talk to someone back then. He had a travelling job. I didn’t always know where he was when he was on the road and we couldn’t afford a phone in those days let alone long-distance charges. We only called in an emergency from the neighbour’s house and had to pay them back for the extra charges on their bill.” She moaned a little as she spoke.

“What did you begin to believe during that time when you felt so lonely and abandoned?” I asked.

She looked at me and barked, “Well, what do you think I believed. He didn’t love me anymore. He was running away from me.”

Gently I asked again, “What did you believe at that time…about yourself?”

Her tone changed as she reprocessed the question. “I thought I’d become ugly or unlovable like I felt when I was a wee little girl and my dad was at war and my mom went to work leaving me with my grandmother. I felt abandoned then too.”

“What truth would God like you to know now?” I asked.

After a long pause I heard Betsy sigh. “Ahh, I was not abandoned. He did that because he loved me and wanted to take care of me…of our family just like my mother did. Ahh, wow,” she said. “All these years have gone by and I never knew he loved me.”    

At that point she began to think of all the ways he’d shown her he loved her over the years. We figured out that his love language to her was mostly doing nice things for her. He built them a beautiful home. He built her beautiful furniture and made her a lovely garden out back. He had made toys for their children and helped each one build a house of their own.

After the reminiscing, she got up to refresh my coffee. I asked her how her knee was. She was astonished as she realized that the swelling was gone and she could hop up and down on that foot without pain. Neither of us had noticed when it got better.

Now when people ask me to pray for physical healing, I start by looking for the crack that allowed it in. Sometimes there is a connection. It never hurts to look for it.

Behind the Anger

Behind the Anger Veil

In my last blog, I talked about anger and how it could mask the real problem and the real hurt in a person’s life. Following is a story about how I experienced this very thing in my own life. See if you can identify with this experience and follow the story to find the path I took to gain your own healing.

I was mad. I believed I had been robbed of my dignity and my character had been attacked. I was told that if I just stopped whining and complaining so much, all my problems would go away. I wondered if this was how Job felt when he was suffering.

I went home fuming. I replayed the conversation over and over again in my head. How could I have explained my concern with my brother without getting such a nasty response? I was hurting, looking for help to resolve an issue, not just whining and complaining to hear my own voice. I didn’t think I had rights that were more important than my brother’s. I had a problem that needed wise counsel, not just judgment and criticism. I had risked being vulnerable to someone I trusted and got nothing helpful to go home with, only more hurt. I wanted to tell the one I had tried to get help from what I thought of him and his “wise counsel”. I began a tirade to the Lord about this “servant of His” who was supposed to be a spokesperson for God and had done a terrible job of it. I wanted God to deal with him ever so severely and set the guy straight.

It Helps to Have Strong Friends

When I got home I called up my girlfriend. Thankfully she was not in the mood to hear my story and interrupted me. She asked me if I was willing to put my anger aside for a moment to see what the Lord wanted me to know. I was stopped in my tracks. I knew from my training and my years of practice that this was the right thing to do. I momentarily struggled with the decision to comply or continue my rant.

I complied. I put my hand on my heart and in an act of agreement, I pulled the anger out of my heart and symbolically put it in a basket. I put the basket at the foot of the cross and asked the Lord to take it.

After the Anger is Put Aside by Choice

Immediately, I felt the anger drop off and the pain behind it surfaced. She then guided me through the steps of finding what the real problem was and presenting this before God for His perspective. 

I’d had a fall-out with my brother. I really loved him and admired him. I was really hurt by the harsh words he had spoken to me. I knew the whole thing was over a misunderstanding and I did not know how to fix it. I believed I’d messed up and that our relationship was broken beyond repair. I had no idea how to correct the misunderstanding and restore the relationship.

Beyond that, when I went to a staff member at my church to try to sort it all out, he too misunderstood my conversation, became impatient with me and dismissed me with a remark like, “Women like you need to learn to stop whining and complaining. Then you might start getting along with others.” I was crushed believing that there was something terribly wrong with me. Outwardly I was angry. Inwardly I was decimated.

  

As I put the anger aside, the Lord gently took me to the first time I felt so crushed. I found it in my very first year of school when a boy told me that if I was a friend of the “retard” (Down’s syndrome child in our class), that I was retarded too. I loved the boy with the round face and was hurt to be put in a category that somehow made me feel less than the bully. I believed that there was something wrong with me. I remained friends with my friend but was taunted along with him every day as we walked home from school together.

The Lord revealed to me that there was nothing “wrong” with me and asked me to forgive the child bully, which I did immediately. The Lord also showed me that He loved my compassion and open heart towards those who were different from everybody else. He also showed me many other truths throughout the situation.

In the end, I was able to forgive the person I went to for counsel and received help from the Lord for my brother and me. He worked in both of us.  We are getting along very well today. 

In many times and in many ways the father of lies embeds lies into our lives. This is especially true while we are very young and unable to process the things we hear and experience in light of the truth. Once those lies turn into beliefs they can cause us to self destruct over the course of our lifetime. 

Letting God bring truth to those false beliefs can be life saving. The truth can open the door to restoration of precious relationships, peace in our hearts and the ability to help others so that our world can get better rather than continue in its natural course towards destruction. I know this experience was a life changer. It set me on a path that made my response to people who did not understand me much more compassionate. I gained an ability to forgive more quickly. I am not nearly so easily hurt or offended and there is room for more joy in my life than ever before. My prayer is that this will happen for you the reader as well.

How Anger Hinders Healing

 

One of the Biggest Hindrances to Healing 

 

Can we hinder our own healing? We sure can. There are many things that can block the process, but one of the biggest things that will prevent us from accessing the provision God gave us for our healing and restoration is anger. 

Anger is what has been referred to as a guardian emotion. When we feel hurt or vulnerable and we do not want to get run over by “weaker” emotions, we may choose anger. Our anger may seem to be so automatic that it doesn’t appear to be a choice, but I’ve seen people choose to put anger aside for a moment and allow themselves to dig deeper into what their anger is covering up.  It’s important for our healing that we recognize that anger can be a learned behaviour or a more socially acceptable emotion than crying. 

 

What does Anger Do for Us? 

 

Anger does many things for us. Anger covers our vulnerabilities when we feel threatened. It makes us appear stronger and tougher than we feel. It masks the fear we are feeling and gives us a sense of personal control over a given situation. Anger can be expressed both actively through outbursts of angry words and violence or passively through distancing, ignoring and punishing silence.  

 

Most psychologists now agree that anger is a symptom of wounds people carry. Without going into the many books on the subject of passive and active forms of anger, suffice it to say, they are well known among the hurting. Anger allows us to blame someone else for the pain we feel and removes us from any responsibility. 

 

There is a common phrase I’ve seen in recent months: “Hurting people hurt people”. If we use anger as a way of dealing with our pain, we may well be managing our pain but in the end, it doesn’t help us heal. Anger will hurt us and those closest to us in a perpetual cycle of negativity that prevents us from healing. 

The Bible says, Eph. 4:26, “Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” Righteous anger is a legitimate emotion, but it is a rare thing among us mortals. Righteous anger is not about us. It is about what offends God and hurts others. Anger hinders healing and personal relationships when used as a coverup or reaction for offenses or hurts.  

In our anger we are often blame shifting. Sometimes we judge others for things they said when it is not what they said at all but what we think they meant. God is the only one who knows the whole truth, understands motive and sees every side of an incident.  It is not uncommon to be angry when we have been wronged, but prolonged anger leads to bitterness which can be hazardous to our personal health and relationships. Bitterness also does not lead to healing but rather can destroy more and more in our lives.  

Using the anger we feel as a signpost to help us turn to the healing process can make the emotion useful rather than harmful. The Holy Spirit can help us to control our reactions to anger when we ask Him to grow the fruit of self-control into our lives. 

 

Putting Anger Aside 

 

In many of the healing prayer sessions I’ve had with others the presenting emotion is anger. I will ask them if they are willing to put it aside for the moment because anger focusses on another person rather than oneself. What we are looking for is what’s behind the anger so that the recipient of prayer can find healing. When they get their healing, anger is no longer needed to protect them. 

 

Sometimes we can simply put anger into an imaginary basket for the time being. Sometimes we have to find out what they think might happen if they give it up. Then we look for truth to deal with that so that we can move on. 

 

I believe that if you are willing to put aside your anger for a short period of time, you too will find healing for yourself. When you gain healing, you are able to make room for some of the more positive things in your life, like love.             

 

1 Corinthians 13:5 says about love, “It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” It is a wonderful thing when we can love like this. Healing our hearts can lead to love that gives without pain. 

 

 

Free from Things Others Do

Free from Things Others Do

Have you ever noticed that you seem to be the target of a series of people in your life who do negative things to you? Let me explain what I mean by that by telling you a story from my own life.

When I was about 22 years old, I was a single mother of a little girl. I had a “friend” who wanted to give me a pair of ski pants for a four-year-old boy. They were torn at the knees, worn out at the ankles and the elastic straps over the shoulders were stretched out beyond help. I tried to refuse them. 

She told me, “I know you will need them, you are poor and I am doing you a favour here. Take good care of them and give them back to me when you are done with them. They are important to me because they are a keepsake to me.”

I tried again to refuse them, but she wouldn’t hear of it and I didn’t have the strength to offend her by insisting on refusing her offer. I knew that this “gift” had strings attached. I thought she would expect them back in better condition than she had given them to me. 

I was really bothered by this strange act of kindness which didn’t feel good at all. I felt trapped into storing something I didn’t want, and that I would be obliged to dress my cute little girl in ugly worn brown snow pants three to four years down the road.

Over the course of the next couple of years others gave me “gifts” with strings attached. Even though I said thank you again and again, it seemed I was never grateful “enough”.

Finally, I found someone I could talk to who understood the problem. She asked the Lord on my behalf where the problem began. I was taken back to an incident in my childhood at our small-town skating rink when I was about six years old.

My mom usually accompanied my brothers and me to the rink and supervised us there. She did not help us to skate, much as I wished she would. My brothers had great balance and skill in skating, but I was wobbly. One day she could not accompany us. My brothers begged her to let us go and she finally succumbed and said yes provided we all stick together and watch out for each other.

We were six, seven and nine years old. The minute we got there, my brothers forgot their pledge and I stumbled my way onto the ice. There was one man there who had often helped other children to skate. He offered me his hand and I gratefully accepted. I stayed on my feet as he guided me around the rink slowly and carefully. I was thrilled.

Where Fear Sets In

After two rounds of the rink, he lifted me up and plopped me on the side boards. With a hand on either side of me, I felt a sudden rush of fear. I frantically looked around for my brothers and could not spot them. All the other adults were behind glass in the warm up room chatting with one another and not looking at the ice. The man leaned very close to me and said, “I did something nice for you, now you owe me and have to do something nice for me.”

“What do you want?” I whimpered. 

“You owe me a kiss.” he said.

I felt trapped and there seemed to be no one to help me. I’d been trained as a child to be quiet and didn’t know yet that there were exceptions to the rule.

Finding Truth in the Past that Affects the Future

As I recounted the story to my friend, she asked Jesus to bring me truth. As I was feeling the fear of the memory and the sting of the words, “I did something nice for you, now you owe me.” I suddenly saw Jesus appear between us facing me. 

“That is a lie,” Jesus told me. “If a person offers a gift, they do not have the right to get paid for it.” Then He took a cloth and wiped a little chalk board clean in front of the man.

The memory faded and my little girl heart felt safe and secure. Then the Lord turned to me and said, “You don’t owe me anything either. You’ve been trying to pay me back for salvation from the moment you accepted me as your Lord. Salvation is a free gift offered to anyone who will receive it.”

I was surprised to hear that. “What about serving you as Lord and Master?” I wondered.

“Certainly, I am your Lord and your Master. But I would much prefer it if you would serve me because you want to, not because you have to. Service given in love is far more precious to me than service out of obligation.”

Immediately, I felt a peace and a love wash over me and through me that is very hard to describe. Yet it was tangible to me and I felt warmly loved and treasured. It’s easy to serve someone who makes me feel so loved.

Since that day, I have received many gifts and have enjoyed them without any strings attached. Some of those gifts may have been given by people who normally attach expectations of deep and abiding gratitude or special treatment of their gift (like putting their picture in a prominent place in my living room), but I have not been affected by it since Jesus revealed the truth to me. Furthermore, I have had no more trouble with inappropriate sexual demands since then either. You can have this too.

Recovering from Disappointment

Recovering from Disappointment

In this blog post I want to share with you a word I believe I received from the Lord that really helped me to overcome one of my greatest disappointments. I had been married for twenty five years. It had not been the worst of marriages nor had it been the best. We had separated and I’d always hoped we would reconcile and somehow it would all work out. During the course of the following three years, I’d experienced a series of disappointments. The greatest of these was finding out for the first time that my husband was in a gay relationship. Although this news explained a lot of our marital problems, I was nonetheless very sorry that I would not have a marriage recovery.

When God Answers “No”

In the aftermath of that shocking discovery, I went on a trip to California with a personal development organization. It was a four day weekend full of unique activities and instructions to help each of us increase our productivity, believe in ourselves and the like.

During one of the particular challenges, I  knew I was going to need a little help from my friend Jesus. The exercise required an excellent balance and bodily strength that I did not quite possess. As I watched different people attempt the challenge, some succeeded and some didn’t. The safety of all was clearly demonstrated for everyone. I decided it was my turn to try it.

I threw up a little prayer asking Jesus to please help me to succeed at the challenge. It was just a little thing, but I knew that if I managed to succeed, it would be a slight miracle and I’d be the first one to give Him glory for it. I proceeded with a hope that I’d enjoy the thrill of doing something just a little bit beyond my known abilities.

I got to the apex of the maneuver, the very part that would be the hardest. I whispered to the Lord, “Here we go,” and launched myself up and off the challenge. I’d failed to complete the final round. Those in charge of my harness floated me to the ground amid cheers and applause from the onlookers as a sign of encouragement for a good effort. I smiled when my picture was taken, all the while masking my deep disappointment in the Lord for answering my prayer with a resounding “NO”.

God Gives an Explanation

A few minutes later, having my harness removed and passed on to the next challenger, I went for a long walk toward the rest rooms. All the while wondering (whining) why the Lord couldn’t give me this one little thing I’d asked for. About halfway to the washroom, I was done asking and paused long enough to hear His answer.

“Muriel, I know you were just asking for this one little thing and I could have given it to you and in another circumstance, I might have. But, if I had given you this one little thing, you would have then proceeded to ask me for a much bigger thing. You would have asked me to change your husband into the man of your dreams.”

As I heard it, I realized that it was absolutely true. I had to agree.

“Now,” He continued, “about your husband, I am a God of choice. He made his. Will you please let him go?”

Coming into Agreement With God

Again, I saw the truth in the matter. I came into agreement with Him and proceeded with the divorce as soon as I got home. I was no longer attached to false hope and I was able to release my ex-husband to his own choices and accept them for what they were. It was very freeing. Had I asked for the greater miracle after receiving my first little one, my disappointment would have been much bigger.

God’s Ways are Better than My Way

We will not always appreciate God’s answers. If the whole world was as we would have it be, I’m not sure it would be a better place. I’m glad that God is a God of choice. I do wish people made different ones sometimes, but God is always good. There is no doubt in my mind. When He spoke to me that day, He was very kind and gentle. There was no condemnation in it. He knows me and loves both me and the man who disappointed me. Its much easier to be ok in spite of my circumstances when I get an explanation from God.

I continue on in my own healing journey. The more healing I get, the easier it is to get to know this God I serve. He truly is a great lover of my soul.

Healing for Sexual Assault

Blessed are the Pure in Heart

I was studying the Bible in the Book of Matthew and arrived at Chapter 5 verse 8. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”  I wanted to know how a person could really purify their heart enough to see God.

I had been listening to a teaching tape on the beatitudes when I heard the author of the teaching series direct us through a series of prayers and proclamations that would help up to get “pure in heart”. I was eager to get my heart cleaned up. I wanted to see God and live to tell about it.

One of the definitions of “pure in heart” is “unstained with the guilt of anything” This is an act of God. This is not something I can do. So, in thinking about my question at the beginning of my story, going to God to get His perspective was my action that led to Him purifying my heart and conscience.  Heb. 10:24 says “our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”  One of the meanings of “evil” conscience is freedom from a conscience that accuses us of guilt.

Agreement with the Scriptures and Prayer

As I progressed through the prescribed list of activities, I could tell that I was making some progress and I felt a sense of relief as I confessed sins, forgave people for ancient offences and gave God control over my life. Somewhere in the process, the instuructor announced that we would be pure in heart if we had come into agreement with the scriptures and prayed. Now we should be able to “see God”.  Then he asked us when in our lifetime had we wished we could have seen Him.

Suffering from Guilt and Shame

Immediately the spring of 1982 came to mind when a stalker succeeded in luring me into a trap where he was able to kidnap me and take me to a place where he was able to brutally sexually assault me. For years I had been plagued by the resulting nightmares, fear of someone coming up behind me, and many other results of the trauma. I also suffered from guilt and shame wondering how I’d gotten myself into such a situation.

I instantly remembered the day as if it was yesterday. The perpetrator was before me, 6’2” tall, 240 pounds. He was someone I had known briefly and spoken to three or four times before. His countenance was dark and foreboding and his previous conversations with me terrified me enough to ask him not to contact me again. All the way to his destination, I prayed for an open door. I was not able to find a way out and now I saw the room I was in. I saw the window, the door, and the furniture in the room. I felt the terror all over again as I heard the man demand that I take my clothes off.

In the safety of my own home, I asked God to show me where He was then. Instantly, I saw Jesus appear in my memory and the next few minutes were all replayed in slow motion. As the man swung his hand toward my face for refusing to obey him, I saw Jesus put His hand up and absorb most of the blow. I saw the Lord’s hand vibrate from the force in that strong arm. The blow connected with my face, picking me off my feet and throwing me into a corner of the room where I landed on the floor.

The Lord turned to me, pointed to me and gave me permission to stop fighting.

All of a sudden, I knew things I didn’t know before. I had not been seriously wounded in that encounter. I had no whiplash, no bruising, no soreness on my back, shoulders or head where I’d landed. Furthermore, I knew that the Lord wanted to minimize the effect of the noise on children who were within hearing distance of where I was.

Then I saw Jesus take a chain and wrap it around this man from head to toe. While I was wondering what that was, I heard Him say, “I bind the spirit of murder.” Then He announced that He had given me eternal life and no one could snatch me out of His hand. I had been given to Him by His Father and no one was able to snatch me out of His Father’s hand. ( I found this later in John 10:28)

Not My Fault:  No More Guilt

At that point, the terror I’d felt for years disappeared. The details of the actual rape scene that followed was fast forwarded and  relegated to the place of the unimportant. Then I saw the Lord put a white sheet over me and wrap me in it. He told me it wasn’t my fault and he restored to me a sense of innocence that has lasted for more than twenty years. All the emotions from the trauma were replaced with peace and calm.

At that point, He asked me if I wanted to see this man as He saw him. I agreed. I was at the foot of the bed we’d been lying on and this huge hulk of a man shrunk before my eyes into the body of a two-year old, and with a child’s voice begged me to tell him he was loved. I felt compassion for him instead of the outrage I’d experienced before. I was able to forgive him from my heart and have prayed for his salvation since then.

The Lord then showed me that He commanded the man who intended to rape and murder me, to take me back to my own vehicle where I was able to go home. When at home, I rocked in my rocking chair for weeks and months, and Jesus let me see how He rocked with me while I recovered over the course of the next weeks and months and how  He brought people alongside of me who prayed for me and loved on me.

The perpetrator came to my home about three months later to ask for forgiveness. I talked to him through an unlocked screen door with words of forgiveness. I refused to allow him to enter. I said I was not obligated to trust him again even though I forgave him. When the guy tried to force his way into my home, he could not open the door even though it was not only unlocked, but also would regularly fly open in the wind. He tried several times while I went to my phone to dial the police. He left before I could find the number (this was before the days of 911). This too was an act of God protecting me. I never saw the fellow again and have never been threatened or molested since then.

I feel safe and secure knowing my life is in God’s hands now.

Memories are No Longer Painful

Since I received that healing, my memories are no longer painful. I sleep without nightmares and do not fear I will “get myself into trouble”, but can rely on the Lord to keep me safe. The incident was not wasted. I have been able to help many women find healing for similar situations since then.

Ask for God’s Perspective

Perhaps you have been the victim of a trauma similar to mine. If you are still alive, it is because God intervened to some measure. He is not mean because He “let it happen”. If you are angry at God because of what man has done to you, may I suggest that you can ask Him to give you His perspective. Misplaced anger can keep you from receiving the healing you need.

By the time I received my healing, I did not blame God for what one man did to me. I was in fact very thankful to Him for intervening. There is more to the story, but that is enough this time.

A Biblical Account of Transforming Truth

New Information Can Bring Healing

Here is one of the Bible accounts that I think illustrate the principle of how God can heal with new information. The story is found in the Bible in the Book of Daniel, Chapter 3. It’s a familiar story for those who grew up going to Sunday School: the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I would encourage you to read it again in your own favourite translation.

In this story a king named Nebuchadnezzar ruled over Babylon. He was, an arrogant cruel tyrant who held all of his subjects’ lives in the palm of his hand. In this particular story, he set up a giant golden image to be worshipped. To make sure he was obeyed, he announced that anyone who didn’t fall down and worship the image would be thrown into a fiery furnace.

King Nebuchadnezzar heard that three of his leaders, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refused to worship the golden image. The king was in a furious rage and ordered the furnace heated seven times more than usual before he had the three men thrown into the fire. Would you agree that Nebuchadnezzar was emotionally upset? That sounds like an enormous understatement.

Our Beliefs Impact Our Emotions

Why do you suppose he reacted so violently? May I suggest that his fury and rage were based on his beliefs:

He was absolutely always right

He had the right to expect and demand complete and unquestioning obedience because he was the king and like a god

Perhaps he was also very much afraid of allowing any other opinion or practice lest he appear weak before men which could cost him his own life

If you skip the middle of the story and jump straight to Chapter 3 verse 30, you might scratch your head and wonder, “What on earth made him change from vengeful rage to promoting them in the province of Babylon? What would calm a fury and lead to an endorsement?”

The answer is found in verses 24-27. Nebuchadnezzar was astonished when he saw four men walking in the midst of the fire unharmed and the form of the fourth one is like the Son of God or the son of the gods. When he called the three Hebrew men out of the fire, they were not singed nor did they even smell like smoke.

Truth Can Set Us Free and Change Our Attitudes

Nebuchadnezzar had a complete emotional transformation that day. Interestingly enough there is no evidence that anyone else saw the fourth person in the furnace. Not even Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego mentioned seeing him or talking to him. It may have been for the king’s eyes only. But none the less, the truth set him free from whatever he believed enough to completely change his attitude towards the Hebrew servants and their God.

I believe that God can grant you freedom the same way by showing you things that you could never see without His help. Because God is not limited to time, He can appear anytime and act in ways you could not have imagined on your own. In the next post, I will share with you how He showed up in one of my own most difficult circumstances.

 

What is Truth?

These were the famous spoken words of Pontius Pilate just before he gave consent to have Jesus crucified. It’s a good question. One that many people ask today.  What is truth? I found that truth is not just some statement of fact, but also a person.

Can a person really be the embodiment of truth? In the Bible, Jesus said to Pontius Pilate “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through me.” (NIV version, emphasis added.) When I read that, it explained why sometimes when I was remembering a painful memory, when I would ask for the whole truth in the matter, I would see Jesus helping me, giving me insights, or protecting me from more harm than I actually received.

I’ll give you an example:

When I was in my first year of grade school, I was very nervous and uncertain. All through my school years, with the exception of grade 11, I was a C average student and I thought I was dumb. There were three or four students who had failed that grade and were repeating the year with us. One day, as an adult, when I was really struggling to learn something, that feeling of being dumb and fear of failure overtook me and all I wanted to do was quit and forget all about this idea of ever learning something new. I stopped what I was doing and took stock of my feelings. My stomach was in knots, my shoulders were very heavy as if I was carrying 30 extra pounds on them wrapped around my neck and choking me. I sought the source of these feelings, looking into my past to where they all began and I landed in my seat in the classroom of my first year in a one room school house in my home town.

Now I know that memories are not always accurate for details, but they are more like a composite of how we perceived the event. In my case, I was sitting in my desk believing I would never learn anything here and I would never measure up. The teacher rewarded the fast learners with toys to play with while us slowpokes would labour to catch up. I never got a toy during the whole year. I really believed that was because I was slow, not too bright and useless.

When I asked for the truth, I “saw” Jesus show up in my memory, squat beside the desk and give me a toy to play with. He assured me that speed of learning was not related to intelligence and that intelligence was not related to value or worth. He opened a book before me and showed me pictures of animals that have been created, each one with its own measure of intelligence and speed and yet every one of them was a valuable member of the world and would be greatly missed if it was extinguished from the earth.

Then Jesus kissed me on the forehead leaving a mark on me and assured me that I would grow up and bless a lot of people if I don’t give up. Peace washed over me. Joy trickled in where defeat had been, and in just a few minutes I was back to work with renewed energy to learn what I needed to learn. My learning power is still not super fast, but I am less easily discouraged than before.