Looking back at the vast expanse that God has brought me through, I’d have to say that things really started when I came across I Samuel 30: 1-8. My life seemed to be hopelessly stuck in a downward spiral, and David’s life at this point seemed worse than mine! Being told to go home when he wanted to do the right thing. Coming home to his town that had been burned to the ground. His family was missing, perhaps dead. His comrades in arms were gearing up to stone him to death. But David found strength in the Lord and inquired of him. “Pursue them, he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.” What puzzled me and kept my interest was that the circumstances David faced were so horrible and yet God’s response was so opposite to what the circumstances were speaking. I would have interpreted the circumstances instead of inquire of God. I would have thought maybe God was trying to destroy me and break me down. God’s response really puzzled me. I guess you could say I got an inkling of another reality – His reality. His reality is not easily seen, grasped, or experienced. This scripture was like a window into His reality for me. Looking into this window was like God throwing a wrench into my thinking. His reality was calling to me and gaining a foothold in my life.
I spent over a year being basically unemployed. I worked just a few hours a week. What I made would cover a few minor bills, but I could not pay my rent. Creditors were hounding me. I was always worried that I was going to end up returning home in shame, or end up homeless. The years prior to this one were not much better. I had lost thousands of dollars due to bounced checks from a contractor. I had multiple health problems. I had gotten fired at a job for reporting child abuse (allegations which were later substantiated). I was in the habit of reciting my litany of hardship to God and praying for a reprieve that never came. All of my attempts at getting a full time job had so far failed. I felt so hopeless and demoralized. When I would go to church, I felt alienated from others because their lives seemed so normal as compared to mine. I wouldn’t dare talk about my “bottom of the barrel” struggles. But what really took me down was when I didn’t have the money to buy toilet paper. My lack of money to buy basic things like toilet paper just made me depressed.
I still thought about David and that scripture. I was forced to think hard about how I saw God in the midst of my suffering. Was he distant? Was he close? Was he sadistic? Was he really good? Michael had started teaching about Joseph, and his hardships resonated with my own. I applied what I was learning and realized that just as God had stripped Joseph of his robe, he was stripping me from my identity “in the world” to my identity as “God with me.” I was incredibly relieved to find that my life was actually going somewhere in God, and I rose to the challenge of digging into Him. I remember having an epiphany around this time. I realized that I didn’t have to keep measuring the distance from where I was to where I wanted to be because God was my destination, my reward, and my inheritance. If I could find my place in Him, I am home always.
I learned that God’s ways involved my death and my being emptied out, rather than my striving to push out negative thoughts or use bible bullets. I realized that I had been fighting God instead of working with him. I wanted him to deliver me from the wretched place where I was. No doubt, he could have easily done it. But he lovingly chose to corner me so he could free me from myself. It took my dying for me to be able to see it. Hezeziah had a similar experience when he fell ill. After crying out to God
and later being healed, he confessed that “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.” (Isaiah 38:17, NIV). My paradigms were off too. God showed me that my approach to suffering – fight through it – (while it helped me survive my past) was wrong because I was operating on false assumptions about God to begin with. God refused to build on my faulty paradigms.
The goodness of God was still something beyond my grasp. I was convicted as
I read about how the Israelites frustrated God because of their complaining. Complaining was something embedded in me from my past, yet I did not want it to prevent me from seeing God’s promises fulfilled in my life. Nor did I want my complaining to extend my time in the wilderness. God forbid. So, I stopped complaining one day, cold turkey. I started focusing on the goodness of God. As Michael had taught, “God always leaves us a “sliver” to be thankful for.” He spared Joseph’s life. There is always something we can be thankful for. So despite my miserable circumstances I looked at the snow on the mountains early in the morning and I thanked God I could see. I thanked him like crazy for the noodles he had provided that day. I thanked him that he saved me from an eternity in hell. Eventually, I found I was rising to God’s reality and a growing awareness of his movement(s). He actually felt closer to me and more accessible!
God started talking to me about my double-mindedness even before Michael preached about it on Sunday. I was really afraid to believe after so much hardship that God really had something good for me. I learned that how I felt and my experiences ought to have less weight than the word of God. Either it was true or it wasn’t. So every time I thought about how my life was going nowhere and I had no future, I turned to God and I said to myself “I have a future and a hope in God. He has good plans for me. I thought too about my inheritance that was held and preserved for me by God. It really wasn’t like using bible bullets, or changing my thinking. It was more like giving the word of God the authority and weight it was due. It was a different way of fighting, perhaps the proper way. I was fighting to remain in God’s reality. It wasn’t long after this that I got my new job. Amazingly God has given me favor with my boss and the clinicians I work with. Just like Joseph!