Friday, September 27, 2013

Problems, Prayer, and Healing

As I was driving home from a recovery group, I suddenly pulled over my car and wrote this in a notebook on my front seat: The world around me has given me every reason imaginable to be utterly and completely skeptical. I have been given every reason under the sun to trust nothing and no one. My family collapsed around me, I have been scammed, abused, tricked, lied to, conned by people and politicians alike, I've been raped, beaten, and abused emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I felt very, very justified to believe in nothing and trust in nothing. But when I was brought so low I had nothing else period, I called out to an old recollection, a childhood myth named Jesus Christ. And the consciousness of that reality came to me as I saw my entire life transformed.

That was today.  But a few days ago I was thinking that I am the perfect person to be writing this blog.  Why?  Because I have more problems, issues, addictions, and troubles that I can count.  I started this blog at the beginning of my conversion, shortly after my baptism.  Why is that a perfect situation?  Because I share on here, every problem I face along the way, and every solution that God puts in front of me.  And I can share that.  I have very little to offer you on my own, but if I can ask God to speak through me on these, then hopefully some truth can get through.  

It was like he was preparing me.  Because ever since I was a kid I was utterly obsessed with writing.  I literally wrote all the time, about everything.  I explored and wrote in every style from prose to novels.  I worked as a journalist for six years, studied creative writing in college, and self published six books.  Rather vigorous preparation, but I enjoyed every minute of the writing.  I enjoy it today too.  So thank you Father.  And thank you for being here :)

 I don't know where that thought came from exactly, when I was driving home today.  I had just come from a very powerful group get together, with some close friends and comrades in the battle for the hearts and minds of God's people.  I was driving back home listening to talks by Ravi Zacharias.  And naturally as always my head was spinning thoughts and ideas, reflecting on the path behind me, incorporating knowledge of God found through scripture and interpretations of scripture.  I was pondering why it took me so long to come to the realization of God, or more to the point, to call out for help to a higher power.  I was also pondering the relation of the failure of the United States churches to stay relevant to the cultural shifts going on in the country.  North America is the only continent where Christianity is not growing, but in fact declining.  I was pondering all of this, and boom, the idea of skepticism and my own inability to trust came into my head.  At that moment I pulled over to the side of the road, where an old man was mowing his lawn and started writing.  

I digress, as I was saying... I have more issues than most I'm sure.  And as I pray for answers, God puts them in my path.  I asked God to help me intellectualize my faith, boom, I was watching live stream for Liberty University (the college I attend) and a speech Dr. Zacharias made at spring graduation last year popped up.  I watched it, and started watching as many talks as I could.  God answers prayers, and sometimes sooner than I would think.

I recall the process I would go through before I had the prayer option in front of me.  I would get a problem, and I wouldn't know the solution.  I was depressed, but I didn't know why.  And I would just think and think and think myself into utter confusion.  Was it my childhood?  Was it recent events?  Was it because I was single?  Was it because I missed my family?  If so how do I work on it?  Where is the healing?  And on and on and on.  Getting nowhere, eventually feeling this deep, ugly dread in my gut...  And I would give up.  I just can't figure it out.  And I'd go on, feeling a new sense of doom, as well as the depression.

Now, when I have a shuttering problem I immediately take a course of action that surprises me with it's effectiveness every time.  I pray.  In fact my old thought process sometimes wins out over me and it spins in my head.  And then suddenly I realize, oh yes Justin, you need to pray.  And as I talk to God about it, usually sitting on the steps in my front yard, watching the trees and the sky, I start to feel that relief.  I have a power in my life that I can take the confusion to.  And he sorts it out for me.  He puts the answer in my path.  I don't have to feel misery when I don't know.  

My favorite time to pray is at night.  I'll go outside and let my dog wander around the front yard.  And I'll stand on my front porch with my hands folded and look up at the stars.  They are so bright out here in the country.  It's true what scripture says, the heavens declare the glory of the Lord.  I'm filled with a sense of awe as I stare upward, coming to realize just how big my Father is.  Try it sometime!  

Unfortunately winter is coming up soon here, so I'll have to throw on a jacket and hat before I go out.  Won't be able to stand there in my pajamas anymore!  Haha.  I know, I'm such a dignified Pastor.  But really, there is no image here.  People can't stand that fake preacher mask, and they can smell it a mile away.  Why try to fake something?  Why fail to dig deep into my past?  Why fail to disclose?  Because I'm going to scare off some traditionalist Christians?  I can live with that.  I'm writing this to present Jesus Christ to everyday people and to declare his work in my life, not to project an image of myself as some holier-than-thou fuddy duddy.  No thanks, you traditionalists keep trying that in your churches if you like, but better, get real with your congregations.  Start loving the lost, and you'll see some powerful growth.  

If you know intimately my failings, and how deep they go, and that Christ's love was enough for a screw up like me; then you know Christ's love is more than enough for you!  

I'm working on a variety of issues within myself at this moment.  After entering recovery and getting clean and working out some issues from my past, well, it's not even close to done.  I have issues with codependency, intimacy, depression, anxiety, sleep, and so on and so forth.  So I prayed on some of those things.  God put some books on my lap, and I'm halfway through the first one so far.  It's called "Pain and Pretending" by Rich Buhler.  It's really all about coming to terms with your past.  It goes to the roots of issues in the present, by reaching back into childhood.  It combines therapy techniques with Christian methods of healing to bring in the best techniques for healing.  As I was reading the first twenty-five pages I started to tear up.  And I could feel healing taking place.  That's powerful to me.  That's more important then every episode of Star Trek Voyager or Battlestar Galactica put together!  I know, I'm a nerd.  Don't judge!

Later on in the book I read something that made me tear up again.  It said something to the effect of.. Many people who endured childhood abuse block out entire periods of their childhood.  Many assume it's normal to not remember huge chunks of your childhood.  But it indicates severe trauma and abuse.  And as I thought to myself, and thought back, I realized I hardly remembered my elementary school years, or anything before that, or much of my junior high or senior high experiences.  That's when I teared up.

And people can draw a lot of judgments from me disclosing that.  But it doesn't matter to me what those people think.  What matters to me, is that a few people will read this and think to themselves.. you know, I have some of the same issues.  Maybe there are solutions out there.  And they'll start researching, praying, reading books, and healing.  One person having some healing from my words, is more important to me than a thousand who laugh and smirk, and judge.  

I thought I'd close with a page from one of my daily meditation books called "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.  I highly recommend it, if you're looking for a quality morning meditation book.  It translates scripture as if Jesus were talking directly to you!  Check it out:

September 27th

RELAX IN MY EVERLASTING ARMS.  Your weakness is an opportunity to grow strong in awareness of My Almighty Presence.  When your energy fails you, do not look inward and lament the lack you find there.  Look to Me and My sufficiency; rejoice in My radiant riches that are abundantly available to help you.

Go gently through this day, leaning on Me and enjoying My presence.  Thank Me for your neediness, which is building trust-bonds between us.  If you look back on your journey thus far, you can see that days of extreme weakness have been some of your most precious times.  Memories of these days are richly interwoven with golden strands of My intimate presence. 

Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 27:13-14
-excerpt from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.