THE STRUGGLE WITH OBEDIENCE Part​ 2. “Making Myself the Lord of my Life.”

I have attempted to control God and His leading and to be honest; I’m making a mess of everything.

What were the results of attempting to act as the lord of my life? I believed my plans were more significant than God’s design for my life. I struggled to fulfill my purpose instead of resting in the direction of a holy and sovereign God. I was unwilling to trust God’s purpose for my life, so I pursued my own course. When I placed myself as the lord of my life, I put myself in a position of authority over God. I decide what was best for myself and I determine what the best course of my life was. I sought my pleasure and will over God’s authority. The problem with making myself the lord of my life was I relied on my selfish desires to guide my choices. The choices I made were far-removed from what was actually best for my life.

When we make ourselves lord over our lives, we ultimately reject God’s authority.

It is essential at this point to stress that God has given us free will to choose how we live our lives. God has given us the ability to reason, to determine the courses for our lives and to make sound judgments. These are God-given qualities; He has placed within each of us.  However, when we choose to make ourselves lord over our lives, we misuse these God-given qualities to meet our selfish and self-centered desires. We use what God has given us to further our agendas and ambitions. We seek to fulfill our destiny and find the best course for our lives with little regard for God or for others. Our pursuits become all about me, all about what I can achieve and accomplish. We do not consider the effects our actions have on others. When we make ourselves lord over our lives, we ultimately reject God’s authority. We place God in a subordinate role and establish ourselves as the supreme authority of our lives. We resist God; we overrule God’s guiding principles and make our desire the guiding principles of our lives. We seek our pleasure over Godly principals; fulfilling our ambition becomes the sole purpose of our lives. This seeking leads to frustration, hopelessness, desperation and lonely existence that centers on pleasure, this is a direct result of having a low view of God.

A low view of God permits us to use God in a self-centered and self-promoting way. 

A low view of God is a view that God is just like us; he is our buddy, our friend, our companion, someone to hang out with and someone to go to when we are in need. A low view of God says “I can do this on my own, but just in case I can’t, I know you have my back.” A low view of God implies He is just another friend and not the one with complete authority over our lives. When we hold such a low opinion of God, we fail to see God in all of his Holiness. We fail to recognize the supreme power and authority of the creator God. A low view of God allows us to mold God into our image and to use Him as a means to our end. A low view of God is one that does not convict us of our sin. A low view of God allows us to live our life the way we want to live. A low view of God gives us the authority to bend God to our will and use Him to accomplish our desires.  A low view of God permits us to use God in a self-centered and self-promoting way. Instead of viewing God as our final authority over our lives, we see ourselves as God, and we follow our desire, using our power to guide ourselves. A low view of God gives us the freedom to live our lives the way we want to, without worrying about the consequences of sin. We neglect the Scriptures, we ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and we disregard God’s sovereignty over our lives.  A low view of God lets us take control of our lives by relegating God to the role of a cosmic genie. We see God as the one who gives us favors, who will grant us our wishes. God becomes for us the fairy godmother who shows up at just the right time to save us. A low view of God permits us to place Him on the sidelines of our lives. We leave Him in reserves until we need Him to solve a crisis and once our crisis is over, we place him on the sidelines to wait for the next crisis. These are the actions of a self-centered and egotistical low view of God. We value our experiences over God’s leading. We pursue our desires over God’s desire for our lives. We appreciate what we can accomplish on our own, over what God can achieve through an obedient and surrendered life. However, the picture of God and His Holiness in Scripture is vastly different than the low view many have of God today. God’s Holiness is profoundly higher than anything we can imagine or perceive.

To be Continued

CAN I REALLY SHARE MY HURT?

God sincerely wants us to share with Him all of our burdens, concerns and cares. He patiently waits with open arms to take us and shelter us in His love.

“I’m lost in my own silent world; I wish I could simply tell someone what is going on in my head. I wish I could let people know the fears I face each day. My doubt and worries overshadow any peace I may have. My struggles, my hurts, and my pain are always before me. I desperately wish I could share with someone how I feel.” These are the thoughts we often feel whether we suffer from PTSD, anxiety, self-doubt or any numerous reasons that cause us to remain silent. There are so many times we wish we could just open up and share our doubts, struggles, despair, and fears. But we keep them to ourselves; too scared to share them with anyone, lest we are ridiculed, mocked, dismissed or attacked for the way we feel. How desperately lonely it is to live a life trapped inside our pain and be silent to all who wish to help bear our struggles. How agonizing it is to live feeling as though no one cares about our feelings.

So what is it that we can do to find relief?

How do we find the courage to step out and open our hearts to others and share the pain we suffer deep inside? In Psalms 62 King David is facing a rebellion that is being led by his son Absalom. David’s counselors and advisers have turned against him. The people have also turned against David and support the rebellion. David flees the city of Jerusalem with just a few loyal friends and family and hides in the hills. David is rejected and cast aside, he is no longer the ruling king and his son has usurped his power. What is David to do? Where does he go and to whom does he turn for help? Psalms 62:5-8 gives us the answer.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times you people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge.

These verses reveal to us the amazing perspective King David has, in the midst of his struggles, heartache, rebellion, lies, and conspiracies David finds rest. What an astonishing thought! How does one find rest in such dire circumstances? David finds rest in God who is his hope, his rock, his salvation and his fortress. How can this be? How does David not turn against God and declare He is unjust and vengeful? Yet instead of being hateful and angry with God, David states with all confidence that He will not be shaken. He is entirely and openly relying on God as his rock and refuge. How can David demonstrate such faith? At this point in David’s life, he has experienced the amazing hand of God in his life. David has experienced deliverance, forgiveness, rescue and found safety in the shadow of the Almighty. By this point in his life, he is able to say without a doubt that God is his refuge. Thus, he is able to advise us to trust God at all times and to pour out our hearts to Him, for He is our refuge.

We seek God’s emotional and spiritual safety, yet we never pour our hearts out to God.

I remember early on in our marriage, how desperately I wanted to share my struggles and doubts with my wife. I would wake up in the morning with all the intentions of talking with her about the way I was feeling. But when the opportunity presented itself instead of sharing, I would remain silent. I would argue with myself. Sometimes I would convince myself to say nothing and other times I would convince myself to talk with her about my feelings. I can still remember the hopelessness I felt when I desperately wanted to speak with her, yet somehow I could not even get a word out. I would tell myself “Do it now this is the best time, she is not doing anything.” But then I would reply to myself and say, “Just wait for 15-minutes then talk to her.” This would go on an entire day and by the time I went to bed, I still had not found the courage to talk with her. This is what we do with God; we go day after day withholding our pain and hurt from God. We seek His relief and seek the emotional and spiritual safety that He offers to us, yet we never pour out our hearts to God. We find ourselves trapped behind our fears and doubts and never take the step to cry out to God. How can we expect to pour out our most profound struggles, uncertainties, and pain to others if we cannot pour out our hearts to God?

 God sincerely wants us to share with Him all of our burdens, concerns, and cares!

He patiently waits with open arms to take us and shelter us in His love, acceptance, forgiveness, and salvation. Crying out to God is the safest way to open our hearts and reveal our most profound struggles. For God is caring, loving, full of grace, one who gives peace and one who liberally pours out His mercy to all who seek Him. Once we learn how to pour out our hearts to God, it becomes so much easier to begin to share with others and to trust those around us. Pouring out our hearts to God gives us the courage to start sharing with others. We can start small and learn to trust. We can experience the relief that comes when we share with others, and they respond with compassion instead of conflict. Once I finally discovered I could share my deepest fears, heartaches, struggle, and doubts with my wife, I entered into an entirely new relationship with her. I now find comfort in her understand, her compassion and her encouragement and I no longer fear to share my heart with her. This is the relationship that God wants to have with you. He desires a relationship where you do not dread opening ourselves to Him, but you seek to share your struggle with Him daily. God wants to give you peace, comfort, and hope. He wants to be your shelter, your rock, your salvation and your refuge. The only thing that stops you is you yourself. Right, this minute you can call out to God and pour out your heart to Him, He will hear you and respond to your cry.

What is keeping you from doing so this very moment?

27 Wonderful Years Together

23 More Years to our 50th!

27 years ago on May 5, 1990  I married my wonderful bride and my true love. Elizabeth is my love, soulmate, helper, friend, counselor, designer, caretaker, encourager, supporter, cheerleader, wife, awesome mother to my children and my very strength and life. She has always been with me through the highest and brightest times and has been next to me in my deepest and darkest moments. When I was ready to give up on myself she was there urging me on and never letting me go. She watches over me many times without me knowing she is doing so. She was strong and my base when I was weak and ready to give up. Without my precious wife Beth, I would not be the man I am today. My love for her is ever deepening and I learn each day to cherish her more and more. Happy Anniversary my sweet love. Only 23 years more until we celebrate our 50th Anniversy  IMG_0002

Finding Reconciliation

Webster defines the word reconciliation as “the act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement”

6a00d8341c500653ef012877186c7e970cIt is common among those who deal with PTSD to find themselves in conflict with those around them. Whether it is among family members, spouses, friends, co-workers or neighbors. Conflict seems to be an issue that comes up frequently as we deal with our PTSD symptoms. Conflict happens. Some conflicts are resolved quickly and are forgotten. Other times conflict goes on for a while but at some point there is a resolution to the conflict. Then there are conflicts that take place and the result are long-lasting and may even bring relationships to an end. I call these conflicts devastating conflicts. These are the worse conflicts as they destroy the relationship between two people and bring pain and hurt to all involved. These devastating conflicts can last for years or even a lifetime. They have the real possibility of bringing so much pain and hurt that there is no probability of reconciling. Even in the best of relationships there are conflicts that happen. Conflicts are not reserved just for veterans or those who suffer from PTSD. However, devastating conflicts often take place within the relationships of those who suffer from the symptoms of PTSD. Some of the reasons are we have a tendency to hide and cover up our emotions. Some do so to “protect” those around us. We do not want our families and friends to know the horror we went through in war. Other times we are focused on self-medication as we try to forget the trauma we witnessed or were involved with. As we focus more and more on self-medication whether it be substance abuse, risky behavior, withdrawal and dissociation or other forms of self-medication. We pull further and further away from those who love and care for us. We freely give up the love and concern of our loved ones and friends to embrace our own self-medication as a way to cope with our PTSD.

Continue reading “Finding Reconciliation”