REbuild, REnew, REstore
Sometimes God speaks so loud and clearly when I am searching for an answer to a problem or situation. Other times He is silent as I work through some heartache or trial. Then there are times like this morning. I was driving my daughter to her volleyball tournament and we were browsing music videos on my phone. A song comes up from Danny Gokey that I had never heard before. She says….I like his voice lets listen. Then like a punch to the gut or a slap across the face……The words of this song just pierced me.
“You’re making a masterpiece
You’re shaping the soul in me
You’re moving where I can’t see
And all I am is in your hands
You’re taking me all apart
Like it was you’re plan from the start
To finish you’re work of art for all to see
You’re Making a masterpiece”
In these words I could feel God’s voice saying stop worrying Gary, I am not done. I don’t embrace change very well. I am a creature of comfort and routine. This past year has been one of change personally and in my business. I have asked God to point me in His direction but my mind questions whether I truly believe that He’s got this! I know….writing those words sounds terrible….I question that God’s in control of this?
Then in the words of a simple song that I “stumbled” upon this morning He speaks words of affirmation and confirmation.
I am still working on you
I am not done with you
I love you and have the best plans for you
I want you to trust me more each day
I don’t want you to fear the unknown
I am tearing you apart for my purpose
I am making something better for my glory
Even though I have struggles and frustrations as a parent, husband, employer, and man. I feel inadequate to handle everything that is placed in front of me each day. I feel like I disappoint and fall short of being the man that I think I should be for those who depend on me. I can confidently say this morning that God is still working on and in me. He is not finished. This struggle is worth it because I am His masterpiece in the making. And I am not alone. He wants to tell you the same thing today and every day. Whatever struggle, trial or pain you face today. It is pain with a purpose. He is shaping, growing and strengthening you for HIS PURPOSE. He will use every situation to shape you! You’re HIS masterpiece!
Here's link to the song:
A little over 5 years ago my world was a total wreck! Years of struggling with sin and losing compounded into a roller coaster of high and lows. I had reached the ultimate low or what may be called “rock bottom”. I had made choices over the first 15 years of my marriage that led to some devastating consequences for me, my wife and my family. I was caught.....but then decided that I had no where else to go but to come fully clean with all that I had done over the past 37 years of my life. I ached to be fully known for so long but the shame and condemnation I felt smothered my desire to be known.
I didn't care anymore
I had nothing else to lose because I thought I had already lost it all
My heart yearned to be set free
My choices got me there but I finally realized I wasn't going to get me out this time
MY HOPE WAS ALL BUT COMPLETELY GONE!
Have you ever been there? Or maybe you are there right now. Things are pressing in from all sides.
You just found illicit sites in the browser history....
You see a chat or text that isn't apporpriate....
Your spouse has been having an affair on a business trip...
Your marriage doesn't have the spark that it used too....
Someone at work or the gym catches your eye a little too long...
You have found yourself being discovered cheating.....
The storm in your life just kicked up to hurricane force winds and chaos rips through with devastating force. The one question I asked myself was “HOW DID I GET HERE?” It doesn't happen all at once. I didn't wake up one day and decide to toss a bomb into my marriage. I made a series of small compromises along the way that led to a devastating outcome.
I chose to be selfish instead of selfless
I chose to be careless instead of careful
I chose to stretch the truth instead being a truth teller.
I compartmentalized my heart instead of choosing complete integrity.
In the midst of all my mess and hopelessness I found something that was significant. God was still there. He loved me even when I felt unloveable. He chose to pick me up even when I felt undeserving. I had to reach for Him but I didn't have to reach very far........I had to decide that the pain of staying in the same place was greater than the pain of changing. Surrendering everything to HIM was the only option that seemed to make sense.
After making that choice did my life just fall back into place?...absolutely not. God's rebuilding process is long and thorough. In fact I am still in process 5 years later. There is one moment though that has a special place in my heart that God reminds me of often. It was only a few days after my infidelity had come to light. I was separated from my wife and kids, but still coming to work at my shop on our property. My best friend worked for me at the time and his wife stopped by to see him one morning. His wife was and is still Andrea's closest friend. They had walked through so much with us over the years. As any best friend would do she was a champion for Andrea who had been hurt by me countless times. I was a wreck not knowing what was going to happen to my marriage, my family, my business. It all seemed lost. MY HOPE WAS GONE!!!
As she walked into the shop she walked directly over to me. In my mind I was ready for a tongue lashing. That is what I deserved for the chaos and despair I had caused. Instead she walked up to me and asked how I was doing? I immediately fell apart in tears. She immediately stepped up and embraced me in a hug that I will never forget. The she said these words: “This is not the end. There is hope” I had destroyed her best friend, wounded her to no end, but yet she chose to love like Christ. She chose to be a dose of HOPE when all HOPE seemed lost.
That moment has been seared into my memory forever. I am sure she probably has forgotten about that moment but it made me feel like there was still hope. Sometimes that is all you need to get through the next minute, hour or day when all else is crashing down around you.
In 2015 we started a ministry for couples who's marriages have been devastated by sexual sin and pornography. Not an easy topic for sure, but such a rampant problem. Our goal is to provide a dose of HOPE during the darkest parts of their lives. When all else seems lost....we can say “look where we were and God still showed up.” We want to be the friend that steps in and gives the hug to say it's not over. God can still does a work in your life and marriage. You are never too far gone!
HE WANTS TO REBUILD, RENEW, And RESTORE YOU!
I am a perfectionist…..admitting the problem is step number one right? I struggle with wanting to have everything in my life appear just right and perfect.
I like order
I don’t like mistakes
I have a problem with flaws
I have a hard time settling for good enough
Is this a bad trait? Not necessarily. It can be helpful in maintaining quality in my work. It pushes me to not give up easily. It helps me to wait on certain purchases to get the best. So, it can be a positive attribute in my character.
But….I also struggle with extremes in my life. I tend to go overboard sometimes (well most of the time) with things. One example is….almost 5 years ago after our marriage separation we decided that maybe a swimming pool would be something that could foster family time here at our home. God blessed us with a “free pool” from some friends that were getting rid of one. Awesome right? Yes, Andrea’s parents had blessed us with some money and we were able to install the pool and swim that summer. The “free pool” needed some parts and installation materials but the gift covered all of those expenses. We truly felt it was a blessing! We had a blast that summer with it!
Then my “lets make it better” thought was…. how about a deck around it? Of course it wasn’t going to be a deck like every other pool….So for the next two summers I proceeded to build a deck around the entire pool. The free pool was not so free anymore. I wanted to make it perfect for all occasions…..including finding a cool slide for the pool!
Was it bad that I wanted to build a deck…No. But my attitude about it all was not so great. I obsessed about getting it just right. I wanted a unique and special pool deck. Looking back now I realize I missed out on time with my kids as they swam and I worked. I was more concerned about the appearance of the work than the people that were swimming while I was putting up board after board. Don’t get me wrong….we love the deck and the pool but when I look back I wish I would have enjoyed the journey instead of trying to get to the completion. That has been a struggle of mine for so many years. I am always concerned about the destination instead of the journey and process of getting there. I want to “arrive” because that is the place of perfection and completion. People love the end results of a project not the mess of construction.
Can I say this about my relationship with Christ? I spent years trying to be perfect. Well, I was good at fabricating a picture that I was perfect. I was very good at presentation. From the outside I looked like my life was so put together. You would look at my career, my family, and spiritual life and see perfection. At least the appearance that I had it all together was the view. But behind the closed doors there was mounting debt, poor decisions, a growing addiction to pornography that was destroying everything from the inside.
I cared more about looking perfect because I wanted people to accept me….maybe deep down even envy my life if I dare be that truthful. If they felt jealous of what I had, then that gave me some sort of edge over them. I lived my life caring what others thought of me being the highest priority and I was going to be perfect for them!
Well that all came crashing down 5 years ago when the gap between the façade and reality became too wide to cover up anymore. My sins found me out…I was tired of pretending…God was standing there waiting…I had a life altering decision to make….Will I continue in this life of acting or be truthful and real.
I tried so hard for so many years to be perfect for everyone including God. I read this quote and its words describe my past life so perfectly:
“Waiting to come the Lord when you get your life cleaned up is like waiting to the ER when you stop bleeding. He doesn’t love some future version of you; He loves us in our mess.”
I spent years trying to get the best “me” ready for a relationship with God. When I got things straightened out then I could be HIS fully. I thought if I could only get rid of the lust and struggle with pornography God would love me. If I would stop overspending and live on a budget, then I would feel that closeness to God. That never happened because I don’t have the power to clean up my sin. I am really good at getting into it or finding new ways to mess things up, but only God can clean it up.
My perfectionist person thought if I could get it all neat and tidy….then God would love me. Otherwise He was just a disappointed parent. What I didn’t realize is He loves the cleanup. He loves to take broken people and make them new. I was only concerned about the end product…the destination…..arriving at the completion. God wants us to come to Him and see the journey.
So for the past 5 years….I have been trying to see the journey each day. I have experienced great fulfillment in my marriage and family, but also continually see the areas that still need so much work. He is so patient with me. Some days he needs to knock me up side the head and other days He whispers “let’s work on this next”
Where are you today? Are you waiting to get cleaned up before having a true relationship with Christ? Are you putting up a good face for others, yet dying inside? Stop…..Only God can clean you up, make you whole, satisfy those longings and desires……
He can Rebuild lives
He will Renew minds
He does Restore hearts
Who doesn’t love a good story? I am always drawn to movies that are based on a true story or actual events. I find myself inspired by people’s lives that tell a story of overcoming adversity or an impossible situation. I am not sure if it makes me feel like I could be just as strong as those people if put in the same situation or if its just inspiring to see good come from what seems like a dire situation.
When you think about the Bible it’s just a book of real life stories. If a movie was made of it, at the beginning it was say…..”based on actual events”. We can become enthralled by seemingly impossible situations that are in the bible. What do we gain from them though?
Maybe its inspiration to try and be as faithful as them?
Maybe it’s the desperate feeling that we would never measure up to their great trust and heroic faith in God. After all they seem like giants of the faith.
Maybe it gives us something to dream about to drown out the day to day grind we all face at times. After all many of us like to get lost in fantasy to block out our reality.
I believe that God did great things with and through these people to express to us that He can do the same with you and me.
If He can take the liar, adulterer and murderer, David, and call him to lead His people…..then what can He do with me?
If He can take a murderer of Christians and turn his life upside down to the point of creating one of the greatest missionaries of all history….then he can use me to do something profound for Him…..
If he can take a teenage girl, who is scared and alone, to birth His one and only son to save the world from sin then what can he use me to do here?
God loves taking messed up and broken people….getting their attention and turning their lives into a great story of redemption and restoration. He loves using them to do great things for Him because it seems impossible to man….which makes it a totally God glorifying life change.
One year ago Andrea and I were prompted to start Proclaiming Freedom Ministries. We felt God saying, “I have made a story with your lives that needs to be shared with others. When people hear your story they can only explain the outcome as a miracle.”
There is not one earthly reason we should be married…only a heavenly one. God saved us pure and simple. He gets the GLORY. HE MADE THE MIRACLE!
I have shared the story of my sin and struggles several different times last year thourgh blog posts and even podcast interviews. We have shared what we have learned and applied to our lives and marriage. We have shared how God restored our marriage from a deep pit of brokenness. As I thought about the year ahead I asked God:
How can I share your hope and redemption to others?
How do I share and not make it about me?
He was silent for many weeks….then I realized He is using those around to speak into my life. Sermons, devotions, songs, and friends talk about how we each are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. He wants to use us right where we are to touch lives and share HIS HOPE. We have a purpose and mission where HE plants us!
That is when the thought of sharing my life honestly and openly with you could maybe help someone out there. At least for me, as guys we look at life as a series of battles and challenges. Once we have conquered something we move on to the next challenge. The mistake that I made for so many years is that lust and pornography is not a “once and done”.
I didn’t conquer it and then move on.
It’s a battle that rages on and vigilance is a must!
There is victory now, but believe me it still tries to creep back in to overtake…..
So my hope is that this year I can share with you my heart and mind as I battle each day, week and month. So many people have asked and wondered what does Freedom from this look like? Honestly I am still discovering and working through it myself.
I will say that is it a battle…some days very easy and others very challenging. With God there is hope for the next day though!
I know that our marriage is better than ever, my relationships with others have never been better, and my heart has never been more at peace and excited for God’s best than ever before.
He promises to RENEW, REBUILD, and RESTORE!
It is the last day of 2015. It's the time of year for remembering and resolutions. We all look at what we are leaving behind in the previous year and the to the hope of a new year! As I sit and think about this past year....I find myself with both smiles and sadness.
God has taught me many lessons this year....some not so easily and others quickly.
1. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. As our family of 4 continues to grow up...we continue to grow in our parenting. It definitely takes work and prayer.....I have learned I don't pray enough for my kids. They face a world that continually challenges them to give there hearts away to so many things. This privilege and responsibility calls for more of my time and energy each day. 2016 must me a year of increased intention to each of my kids.
2. " I am not defined by what I do" This idea was a reoccurring theme for me in 2015. My job, my marriage, my kids, my choices don't define who I am. They may explain about me, but they don't define who I am. My identity is found only in Christ. I am His child, I have been saved because He chose to die for my screw ups and sins. I desire to continue in 2016 making choices each day to that reflect my identity. I want others to see who made me who I am today!
3. People Matter. Whether it's our family, our church, or even my employees.....people matter above things. I am driven to get a list done and deadlines met, but God is showing me that people matter. Stuff comes up in each of our lives and His agenda doesn't always match mine each day. I have learned but have not yet arrived at making sure each day I put God's agenda first. When I do, I get to take part in some really great stuff and see peoples lives light up and change. When I stick to my agenda I miss out on being part of something greater.....I don't want to miss out in 2016.
4. Transparency is valuable. 2015 was a year of sharing my junk on a much more public scale. It is scary to say the least. When Andrea and I decided that we have a call on our life to share with others, we knew it wouldn't be easy. People may be shocked and not know how to react. Others may pull away because it was messy. God showed us that no matter what TRUST HIM! By being real we have seen the door unlocked for others to be real. We have seen our story give hope to couples that felt trapped and alone. We have seen husbands and wives fight through some terrible brokenness in order to find God's healing and restoration. It's not easy to share your "stuff", but God is so faithful in creating new from the ashes!
It has been a year of so many joys and successes.
It has been a year of tears and heartache.
2016 will have the same again, but I am praying that I don't have to learn the same lessons over again. I hope that I am going to be working on new lessons. I know some will be easy and undoubtedly some will take a knock over my head. I am human just like you. I just keep asking that I am moldable and teachable...that I trust His love and discipline to continue shaping me to be more like Him each day.
What have you learned from 2015?
What are you leaving behind?
What is ahead?
Happy New Year!
In recent weeks I’ve been confronted with the idea of forgiveness in multiple different situations. A short while back the media was bombarding us with stories and the account of lives involved in the Ashley Madison Scandal, multiple couples we are associated with have had their lives altered due to one spouses decision to be unfaithful, and friends of ours Justin and Trisha Davis have been in the media discussing their story of devastation and journey to redemption and restoration. Their Book “Beyond Ordianary, When a Good Marriage isn’t Good Enough,” is an amazing “he said, she said” account of a marriage broken by betrayal. More than that, it’s a story of forgiveness and what God can do with the one obedient act of someone choosing to forgive. The quote from Trisha “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart” was tweeted by Hoda Kutbe. I have been reflecting a lot on this quote the last couple weeks and I would like to take a moment to share my thoughts.
Forgiveness is such a tough and sticky subject especially when it involves a complete and utter betrayal of someone you love or loved. Being hurt in this way is absolutely something I would not wish on my worst enemy. It’s gut wrenching and anger inducing all at the same time. I will never forget the sickening feeling the moments I found out about my husbands betrayal. I literally beat on his chest out of anger and then cried uncontrollably for days on end. Anger and Sadness went hand in hand. Some days anger won, others, sadness was the front runner. It was easy to hold onto the anger. It felt like it was mine, I DESERVED it after all I had been put through. I did in fact, have the right to be “hornet mad” so to speak. I am sure this might be read by some as me saying they don’t have the right to be angry; That I am somehow minimizing what they have gone through or turning it around as a them being the “bad guy” or wrong. Please hear me and know that anger is a very natural part of the process and If you are the betrayed I want you to be angry, to voice that anger, and take the steps to walk through that anger in a healthy way. The problem with our anger comes when we hold onto it like a trophy. It becomes our badge of honor and leads to unforgiveness. We feel like we can’t possibly reconcile the anger with forgiveness in the picture. The two seem so counter intuitive. Guess what?
We don’t have to cease being angry in order to forgive our offender, but we do have to forgive in order to allow God access to our heart to mend that angry broken part of our heart.
Forgiveness is really not an option for those of us who have claimed God as the captain of our ship. Forgiven people forgive! Although my sins may not be as personally devastating to my husband or family, they are as equally damning for me. I do not deserve His forgiveness but He gives it anyway. My husband, nor the women who happened to be a friend, deserved my forgiveness but I gave it because I have been commanded to. I was still very angry when I offered forgiveness to both; However God has used that obedience to heal me as well as my marriage. The hairs on the back of my neck no longer stand up when I hear the other women’s name or see her around. The bitterness and anger I had for my husband have dissolved into a sweet, overwhelming love and affection for him. GOD did that… Not me! I am convinced however that He needed me to follow with forgiveness in obedience to Him in order to bring me to the place I am today. Un-forgiveness allows Satan to fan the spark into a massive flame! Unfortunately I am not able to give you a formula for time. It’s difficult and personal for each person. I just know that the longer you hold onto un-forgiveness the more likely you are willing to die on that mountain, not physically but spiritually. If you have been hurt by the terrible act of betrayal, I am so very sorry. My prayer for you today is that you walk through the anger that you are experiencing in a healthy way. That you are guided by those who give Godly counsel and that you are privileged to experience the grace of a God who rewards the obedience of His Children, especially when it is extremely hard. Walking in obedience of forgiveness is a healing balm for our souls. Walk with purpose and trust that He is faithful to complete the work!
Read the news or look at the internet lately....It is a hot bed for everyone's opinion of scandals. From the Ashley Madison cheating website list to the list of celebrities and public figures caught cheating on their spouses. Can you imagine what the media would have done with King David.....the man everyone idolized, the boy that slayed the Giant Goliath, He was the boy appointed by God to be King. He defeated hundreds of thousands of men in battle and yet kept in step with God's heart. He was heralded as the greatest King ever, but that didn't exempt him from sin. The Facebook court and twitter feeds would have been on overload with all the juicy details about the king who slept with his trusted Mighty Man's wife, got her pregnant and then had him killed to cover it all up. The media frenzy would have been around the world in a matter of minutes. He would have been called on to step down by the masses. Just imagine the chaos and buzz it would have created. David would have been forced to step down from the throne to save himself.
Instead of the masses demanding David's head, God used one man to confront Him. His trusted friend Nathan went to him and pointed out David's behavior and choices. Can you imagine what that would have been like? You have no idea what the reaction will be. Will He deny it and continue to try and cover up the sin with more sin? Will he put Nathan in jail to silence him? Maybe even have him killed, like he had Uriah murdered. Did that stop Nathan....absolutely not. Why? Because Nathan was a man who trusted God. Nathan was obedient to God even in the face of possible death.
What was David's reaction to being confronted head on with his own sin and failings?
Did He run and hide?
Did He lie and make excuses?
Did He blame it on her for not wearing any clothes while bathing?
NO.....He fell on his knees and cried out to God. He begged for forgiveness and pleaded with his God for restoration and redemption. He realized the depth of his sin and repented.
What do you do when you are caught?
Do you plot and plan how to cover it up and minimize the damage?
Do more lies come out of your mouth?
Do you dig deeper into sin because the consequences seem too great to bear if it was exposed?
Your image would be ruined, you may lose your job, your family would be disgraced, and your marriage would be over.
Do you come clean and ask for forgiveness?
Walk a road to brokenness and find healing?
This is not the easy path to take because its messy and the end of self. It's scary because it takes you out of your control. It means trusting God has you in His arms and knows what's best for you even when all around you is chaos and pain.
In the past few weeks I have seen so much brokenness in marriages.
The choices to be unfaithful to one another is exposed.
Confessions are made and forgiveness is asked.
The wake of destruction from sin is like a tidal wave.
Years of hurt and pain have compounded building the wave higher till it no option but to break. That breaking point is when the sin is found out. I have seen men weeping and wives angry, hurt and bitter. Crushed from that crashing wave washing over all that they thought they knew was destroyed in an instant. Tossing and turning their world upside down. Kids are caught in the wake of that destruction trying to understand the situation and how to love both the parent who has hurt them and the other parent. It is gut wrenching for me to sit with these families in their darkest hours, but just as Nathan was there with David for a purpose, we are called to sit with those struggling in sin too.
For me those situations bring back a flood of memories when I was in that seat....caught in my sin and choices....feeling the shame and guilt of years of poor choices and mistakes that were killing my soul. The wave I had built came crashing down and nearly destroyed everything. Only by Gods grace and forgiveness do I have a great marriage and family. What did it take?
It can be broken down into some simple things:
Confession: Bringing all my sin into the light. Not holding any of it back because it would be too damaging to my wife. God calls us to bring everything into the light...not some of it. This was and is extremely hard. It means exposing the deepest parts of our hearts that have been hidden to everyone for years. It's also an ongoing exercise to remain open and honest continually.
Ephesians 5:14 "for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, "awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead and Christ will give you light."
Repentance and Brokenness: Turning from all poor choices and behavior and leaning solely into God. Replacing self with HIM. Allowing God's discipline in my entire life. That may mean career change, hobby changes, dropping out of certain activities or moving to another area. Its not running and hiding but seeking to quiet your life so you can hear God speak.
Hebrews 12:1 "....let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles..."
Becoming a Student: Being selfish got you into this place, being a student of God, your wife and your kids can help you move forward. I had to learn about what it takes to be a follower of Christ, a Godly husband and father. Also what it means to sacrifice my heart for Gods heart. In order to be a student you must spend time with them, talk with them, engage in activities with them and be a listener. I am a busy person.....many times by choice. I struggle with just spending time with my family without having a structured activity or project. God is teaching me to be present and put my agenda aside.
Being Honest: Truth above all else.
Proverbs 11:5 "The godly are directed by honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin."
Simply put it's being a truth teller from the point of confession on. This will not be a one time event either. Honesty has to become a lifestyle. It will take time for others to believe you because trust has been broken but God can restore you to an honest person. That's what He wants and He has the power to help you be that person.
It scares me to think that I could have been one of the names on the Ashley Madison Cheating Website list years ago with the sin choices I was making in secret. It took a God that relentlessly pursued my heart, a wife who chose God's character of forgiveness, a group of men that biblically walked me back to God, and my choice to own and confess the choices I had made and accept the consequences.
Maybe your wave is still building or maybe it's crashing on top of you right now .....God is there, he longs to restore and redeem but HE can only do it when you walk with HIM. I would love to share more with you about our story and the hope that he offers to anyone and everyone!
Its been a few weeks since we have written and shared anything through the website. Honestly as I think about it this whole summer break thing has thrown a wrench in my life that I was unprepared for to say the least. Working at home is great but throwing four kids back into your work environment has been challenging. I have always struggled with balance between all areas of my life. A trusted friend shared with us that life is comparable to a teeter-totter. You are always trying to find the center of balance but seldom do you stay there long……you’ll spend most of the time moving from one end to the other trying to find the middle sweet spot. I can’t seem to find the sweet spot lately…but I haven’t stopped trying!
This past weekend my wife’s parents said they would take all 4 kids for the weekend! Brave people!! Andrea and I were in a quiet house for 2 entire days! It was kind of eerie…..We went to a Casting Crowns concert on Saturday evening that totally took me by surprise of how God would use that night. I love the group and have seen them several times so I expected a great concert, but God took that night to shake me a bit. When Mark Hall, (lead singer) shared the background to his songs and what God stirred in his heart….it was as if God was speaking directly to me. Emotions overcame me that night time after time, song after song.
Among all the things spoke that night were:
“Our purpose here is two fold…We are to know God more so God can be known by more”
“Religion is trying to be a Christian without Jesus”
“It’s not about us doing more good, but more about the good Jesus has already done for us”
The one that pierced my heart was John 21. It is the story of Jesus’ relationship with Peter. He was one of Jesus’ close disciples. Peter gave up his career of fishing abruptly after the day that Jesus stunned him by producing a miraculous catch of fish on a day that seemed to be ending in despair. Jesus asked Peter to come follow Him and live a life of “fishing for men.” Jesus spent 3 years of His life pouring into Peter all that He could. Peter experienced first hand countless miracles of healing and death being overcome. He himself even walked on water! Yet in Jesus’ darkest time he deserted, abandoned and even denied he knew Jesus. We ask how could He see all of those things and still lack the faith to stand with Jesus in His agonizing time.
The part of the story that grabs me is the point when Jesus is being led away, Peter has denied he even associated with Jesus, then they both lock eyes on one another. No words were exchanged…..no words had to be exchanged.
Only hours before Peter proclaimed to Jesus that he would never abandon him. That he would die with him if that is what it took.
How many times had I said words of commitment to someone or something that I would later regret for not following through or turn against my intentions. My natural reaction to this is immense amounts of guilt and shame. That feeling of wishing I could go back in time to change my decisions.
What was Peter’s reaction to that moment when Jesus looked directly into Peters eyes? Peter knew what He had just done….Failed to keep His word with His closet friend and Lord…Guilt, Shame, and Failure
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and Peter 2 times. Even though Peter had seen Jesus, there was still a separation in their relationship. He felt that friendship could not be restored. His betrayal of Christ was irreconcilable.
The shame and guilt was a burden He was unable to carry. It paralyzed Him and led him back to His former life. When our life is on shaky ground where do you run. We most often go to what’s familiar and comfortable. Peter went back to fishing.
For years I struggled deeply with an addiction to pornography. I would feel that closeness to God when I was doing well, but then I would sin more and create a deeper separation from His presence. I allowed the enemy to speak lies into my mind and heart.
This was my consequence for years of bad choices.
I wasn’t worthy of having a relationship with God anymore.
I had sinned one too many times to be able to be forgiven.
I was past the point of forgiveness.
ALL LIES FROM THE ENEMY!
The story doesn’t end though. The amazing thing about Jesus is that He pursues relentlessly.
He knows that Peter is avoiding Him.
He knows our guilt and shame is causing a fissure in the relationship He longs for with us.
He knows that we drift towards what is comfortable and familiar.
So What does Jesus do? He meets us in our place, He follows us to the point we will most clearly see Him!
For Peter, Jesus finds him back in the fishing boat, not catching a single fish again just like 3 years prior. Jesus doesn’t use some new ministry strategy, He simply used the same line….throw your nets on the side of the boat! The same results happen….a catch so plentiful it breaks the nets!
When Peter finally realizes its Jesus, He knows that he can hide no longer…..He dives in the water and swims to shore.
For me, I ran for years hiding my sin and hiding my heart from Jesus. Of course on the outside I “played” the part of a Christian. I said the right things and served for Him, but rarely did have that deep intimate relationship with Him that I desired.
He kept pursuing me……It wasn’t till I was living in a camper separated from all that knew that I ”jumped in the water and swam to HIM.” I had nothing left, my choices got me to this point and I then realized that only HIS choice to save me would move me from this place.
When Peter met Jesus on the beach that day. Jesus could have said:
Why did you lie to me?
How could you deny me not once but 3 times?
I died for you and yet you could not stand with me? You coward
I can’t imagine having a friendship with you again after what you did!
No, He only asked him a question? Do you love me? Then when Peter said yes, He commissioned him to take care of His people. That’s the amazing part, when Christ has all rights to condemn he loves and rebuilds. He doesn’t condone, enable or coddle. He rebuilds, renews and restores!
He could have said to me in the camper:
You have no place in my family anymore
You broke your marriage vows
You allowed the enemy right into the fabric of your family
Your word and witness to others has been severely destroyed
Your reflection of WHO I AM has been distorted and damaged
Instead He said:
Turn from your life of Sin
Now we can build on my solid foundation.
You are still my child
There is work to be done but I can help you
You are not too far gone
I will rebuild, renew, and restore you!
So, no matter where you are today Jesus is still pursuing your heart. He wants all of it. Maybe the whispers you here are ruling your thoughts. Mabye the guilt and shame of your choices is keeping your from running to Him. Don’t hide or run away anymore. The enemy wants you to believe that its too late….God says its never too late. He will meet you where you are!!
This morning as I (Andrea)sit and think about what I should write, I feel like God has been continually bringing something to the surface. Well, let me restate that. Satan has been shouting at me, challenging me in my thinking and confidence and My God has been whispering over and over to counter Satan’s lies. This morning I am finally hearing the whispers loud and clear.
Gary and I are new to this whole “walking with people as they find healing” thing, at least on an official level. Although we have walked with people In the past, This ministry is brand new and we are just getting started “officially”. Last week we had our first “official” meeting with a couple as a ministry. I’m not gonna lie, it felt like a big fat fail on our part. I have struggled throughout this entire process with feelings that we are just not “good enough”, that we don’t speak eloquently enough, that others will question whether we are ready or not, and that we will fail those we are trying to help. Satan has been shouting at me for some time now, these and many other things. I have been allowing the lies to literally paralyze me from moving forward. If you are a parent or a teacher or work with kids on any level, have you ever noticed that changing the sound of your voice from a shout to a whisper gets a better response? Our God knows that a whisper is so much more powerful than a shout. He whispers and waits…whispers and waits… whispers and waits…Such a patient God he is. Such a grateful Child am I for this patience. The past day or so I have heard Him say…
YOU are not good enough, I AM.
-YOUR words are not eloquent but MINE ARE!
-YOU may fail people, but I WON’T!
This is not OUR ministry, it’s HIS. It’s our story but it’s not for our Glory it’s for HIS. The problem I’ve been having is that I am looking at it from a human perspective. In my very human nature, I have been wanting to take the credit, both good and bad, for it’s success. Guess what, I don’t get to nor do I have to, and neither do you! Are you being paralyzed by the same lies? You might not be starting a ministry but you might be hearing a calling to step out, live bold, or simply speak with boldness and truth to a friend or loved one. So many times in the bible God called people, people who were very ill equipped to do the job he was asking. You know why? Because when he calls those who seem less than the job requires, then He gets the glory when the job gets done despite our failings.
Today my challenge is as much for me as it is for you. Let’s let God use us! Let him do great things in spite of us. Take a Step out, Be bold, and most importantly LISTEN for the whispers of truth!!
I listened to a pastor preach a sermon several weeks ago and he posed this question. What do you want the last day of your marriage to look like? When I heard this I thought that was quite a morbid question....then as I pondered more I realized how amazing that question really was. How do I want my marriage to end?
It is the farthest thing from our mind when you propose. You don't think....what will the last day be like as we enter into this exciting time of our lives? On our wedding day we say words like “till death do us part” and “for better or for worse”, but do we do we think past the surface to when the marriage ends what will be the state of it?
Will it be long and pleasurable
Full of years of happiness and joy together
Looking back in retrospect satisfied with how it was navigated Love that is deep and intimate
Two lives that worked in communion with Christ and each other
Filled with brokenness
Pain and despair
Broken promises and destroyed trust
Loss of hope and a soul tattered
Children’s hearts torn between two parents
Think about our culture and how it focuses so much on creating the perfect wedding day.
Millions of dollars are spent each year trying to create that perfect day. So much thought is put into the experience of 4-6 hours. It is a special day, but what happens the next day, week, months and years. How much time is spent in preparation for those.....I would venture to say not as much time or money is spent in preparation.
After those 4-6 hours of planned bliss is when our lives and hearts become tested to the covenant and commitment put forth on the wedding day. Life begins and reality will creep back in slowly. It can be real messy bringing two lives into one marriage. Each person brings “stuff”into the marriage. I can speak from my marriage openly and honestly.
We each brought our pasts (good and bad) into this marriage.
We both have some great qualities that God has truly blessed us with, but those aren't what almost destroyed our marriage. I brought some deep struggles that affected our intimacy and oneness. I had an addiction to pornography and lust. I brought a need to feel worthy and perform for others approval. These issues coupled together don’t make a recipe for a marriage that is characterized by serving one another. God calls us to lay down ourselves for one another. Putting aside our own selfishness to serve the partner in the marriage.
Sharing life together.
Intimacy that is authentic and giving.
Hearts and desires that are focused on God's best
Don’t these all sound like fairy tale ideals when you look at our culture today.
We are taught that we are to:
Be all we can be.
Have it our way
Look out for number one
And so on with the “self centered” ideals
We are staring at a battle against the culture.
It is all about making yourself feel good in whatever way you feel at that moment. I won't even get into the culture of sex, lust and promiscuity. This is what fuels our culture right now!
So....put all these things together and the last day of millions of marriages happen in despair each day. God designed it to be so much more! I want different. I want the fullness that God promises.
How do you get that?
“Define the ending and live backwards”
Decide how you want your marriage to end and live backwards with all of the decisions based upon that premise. I desire to have a Christ centered, intimate relationship with my wife. I want our last days to be ones without regret of what we should have done differently. I want to spend as much time with my “best friend”. I desire to serve this woman and build her up to where she is radiant....not beat down.
In order to get that ending.......my life is lived each day by decisions to achieve that ending. I fight for our marriage by staying focused on Christ.
I have to check my motives and intentions each day
I MUST TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE (We live in a lust controlled culture) I try and serve others to squash my pride
LOVE as Christ LOVED
Sounds easy when as I write it down.....it gets messy as you try to live it out. Life is hard at times! Writing it down is the first step though. Then share with your spouse.
Goals need to be shared so they can become a reality. If you have an accountability group share this with them. The more people that can "spur you on towards love and good deeds"Hebrews 10:24.....the better. We are not called to stand alone in this fight. God wants to give us community to survive and thrive within. One of the greatest tools of the enemy is the lie that we are alone. That no one else struggles with your sin issue.....Wrong....bring it into the the light....expose this lie and gain God's power and grace with others!
How do you want to your last day of marriage to look? Will you take time to write them down? Will you share with someone else who can encourage you? Will you take the first step to fight for God's best in your marriage?
Maybe you already have...Keep pushing in!
Maybe you're ready to throw in the towel.....don't.....give God one more chance and room to work!
Andrea and I would love to share our story and hearts with you. More importantly we would love to listen to your story and where you are right now. We believe that no marriage is too far from Gods restoration.