Through all the years of turmoil in my life I was quite confident that I trusted the Lord. I was a committed Christian who had read the bible through from cover to cover a couple of times, quite apart from daily readings, bible studies and the like. I knew scripture. Beware of what you think you know!
The problem in my life had to be me – it patently could not be God. Because I was defective, He was unable to help me. I wasn’t good enough, I had to work harder at being better, different. I had a friend who always used to say: ”If you want things to change, you must change you first.” Yes. And no!
Of course I had melt downs along the way, when too many things going wrong got on top of me. At these times I always railed at God, pointing out how I trusted Him in vain; everyone else’s prayers were answered, never mine. I would lose hope, call it “stupid hope” because it was in vain. He would never come through for me.
I always picked myself up again, and soldiered on, because without faith, without God, and yes, that blessed wavering hope, there really is only bleak despair.
By now I had started working through my journals, because one of the books I was going to write would deal with the issue of non-violent abuse. I seriously believed I would be able to write this book with humour, that it would not be a litany of wrongs perpetrated against me, couched in diplomatic terms. I journal pretty much every day, and had books going back a number of years. I was stunned at the repetitiveness of my observations, my ongoing pain, the lack of any resolution or progress. I hate to admit there was a fair bit of whingeing too.
Yes, there were victories along the way, but they were minute in the scale of the problems and issues I faced. I realised that I had lived on a pendulum of despair and hope for most of my life. So where to now?
One glorious morning, when the sun was directing golden rays through the crisp winter dawn, and the beach was glistening with magical mystery, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper softly, “Trust me.”
Trust. That stopped me in my tracks. I knew innately my answer to this request was critical. Trust. The toughest thing in all the world. Trusting, when trust has been violated over and over again. How on earth do you trust? No, not today, Lord. Another day, let me just enjoy this time a little longer.
But I was in too deep. I had invited the Lord to search my heart, given Him permission and He was taking me at my word. This was it, the time had come when I needed to commit my all to Him, no matter how hard or how painful.
I started by tentatively asking the Lord to make my ears sensitive to His voice. I wanted to be absolutely sure the voice I heard was His, and not the other fellow. I began praying this scripture from Isaiah 30v21:
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying: “This is the way, walk in it”
Whenever you turn to the right handOr whenever you turn to the left.
There were three main issues that came out of these conversations, and each one rocked me back on my heels. The first was the issue of my idols.
Of course I was aware of idols: make sure you don’t get hung up on money or possessions, beware of philosophies that don’t line up with the teachings of the bible, horoscopes and the like, becareful of artefacts and art in your home and had been careful to observe all these. But what the Lord revealed to me here seemed to come from way out of left field: Are you willing to give up your husband and your sons?
You have made an idol of your husband – are you willing to give him up?
No, now hang on Lord, he’s part of the problem, he’s not an idol.
Are you sure? Then why are your thoughts almost exclusively centred on him? Why does concern over him, his welfare consume you?
And then the big one: why do you believe you are responsible for him? His salvation?
But, Lord, I am, aren’t I, quiet and gentle spirit, win him without a word, no divorce, believing spouse sticking around, it’s all here, in Your word?
What about the part that says I alone draw the hearts? If you are responsible for his spiritual state, why did I die for him? Or you? Or anyone?
I began to feel distinctly uncomfortable as these questions began to simmer through my thoughts. Do you see the deception of the enemy? I had become so hooked up on sorting out my marriage, the emphasis being on me sorting out my marriage, that I had almost made the Lord a spectator. I was not only fighting the injustices in my life, I was fighting God, who was desperately trying to fight for me, if I would only let Him IN!
I also realised that I was looking to John to meet my needs, he was my everything, his salvation would be my final sufficiency. The Holy Spirit began leading to me to a number of verses:
Psalms 146v3: Do not put your trust in princes nor in a son of man in whom there is no help
Psalms 118vv8,9: It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes
Prov 28v26: He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered
I was making John, and to a lesser extent my sons, responsible for my happiness, my peace of mind, my conscience. Aha, now that was an interesting one – the old blame game of the enemy. It was my fault none of them were walking with the Lord, so if they just suddenly miraculously became wonderful men of God, somehow I would be justified and set free, from what all I am not quite sure. What a burden I placed on them, very similar to the burden that ancient tribe placed on their golden calves, and equally fruitless.
What a mess we get ourselves into when we walk according to the dictates of our hearts, look to our own understanding, and do not seek the wisdom of God. My problems had become so big that God was obscured somewhere in the midst of them, and to an extent He had become the enemy!
I had to repent. It took time to unravel all this piece by piece, surrender it, ask for forgiveness and cleansing, and to be filled with more of His Holy Spirit so that His truth became my reality, not the lies of the enemy.