The Sweet, Simple Joy of a Baby

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My friend Karen came over this afternoon (Saturday, June 8th), and she brought her year-old baby, Jonathan. We sat on the grass outside my apartment, and Jonathan, in perpetual motion, walked all around both Karen and I, and pulled up bits of grass, making mud-pies with the dirt and grass-blades.

Jonathan laughed and babbled in baby-talk. He’s getting close to saying his first words, making bi-labial sounds. He’s such a delight, and a joy to watch and listen to.

I had picked up my mail during our walk, so after we sat down, I let Jonathan play with it. He was carrying pieces of it around and dropping them in various places. That didn’t bother me any, because I didn’t want any of it anyway, plus I loved that he was having so much fun with it.

Jonathan With a Dirty Face. He’s so CUTE!!

Jonathan With a Dirty Face, 06:08.2019

Being around Jonathan is making me realize something, a lot of things, actually.

The abuse I endured as a child was so extreme that I had to become multiple in order to survive, both physically and emotionally. Additionally, what was happening to me was so traumatic that I had to repress the memory of it, because, as a child, I wasn’t equipped emotionally to be able to process or handle what I was experiencing. The maturity required for that wouldn’t come until many years later. As a consequence, the first ten years of my life are pretty much blank.

As an adolescent, I babysat to earn money for clothes and other incidentals. One time, when I was about thirteen years old, I was taking care of a friend’s one-year-old baby, and the baby started crying and couldn’t stop. I think she had colic. Her crying turned into shrieking, and I couldn’t make her quiet down, and I didn’t know what to do. She kept on crying and shrieking and crying and crying, and I finally lost it, and started shaking her.

Immediately I got really scared, because instinctively I knew that what I’d done wasn’t right. So even though she was still crying, I put her down.

I’ve never forgotten that experience. Ultimately the baby did stop crying, thankfully, and I’m gratefully able to report that she suffered no lasting effects from being shaken. But I came to the conclusion after that babysitting session that I could no longer babysit, and I could not think of becoming a parent, even though, at the time, I had no memory of being abused. I was sure that, if I had children, I would abuse them. I had no idea on what I was basing that fear, other than that one time of babysitting. I just knew with a strong certainty that I would abuse any children I produced if I were married. So that also meant I could never be married.

At the time I was a little disappointed about the idea of not being able to be married, because I’d long held a dream of an amazing wedding ceremony with a beautiful wedding dress and lots of gorgeous flowers. But a wonderful day meant nothing along side a life of misery if the miserable life was made that way because I was treating my children in unloving and ungodly ways by abusing the life out of them.

In later years, after memories started to surface and I began to fill in the ten blank years with reality, I began to understand why I was afraid of having children. I began to see that my fear of abusing any children that I might have was realistic, based on what I’d gone through myself, though my reasons for not wanting to be married changed somewhat. Part of the reason still had to do with fear of abusing my children, but I now realized I was terrified of sex as well, because of what Harry had done to me throughout my childhood (see the post from October 10, 2016 called “Am I Afraid of Anger or Do I Get Angry At the Fear?” for a good explanation).

All of that is to say that God has done a tremendous amount of healing in me, and I’ve only come to realize just how much in the past year since being around Jonathan.

Once I knew what was in my background I made it point to never be alone with small children and/or babies. I’ve never been afraid I would abuse them sexually. I’ve never been tempted in that way. In fact, the idea of doing that is utterly repugnant to me. What I’m terrified of is that I would hurt them physically.

But since Jonathan came into my life, I’ve had several opportunities to be alone with him, and even though there were times that he began to cry, I was never triggered or tempted, not even a little bit, to hurt him or get upset with him.

Wow! Just Wow!! I’m in awe at the wonderful works of God! I can feel a qualitative difference inside from the way it used to be. It used to be that when I was around a child and that child started crying, I could feel a lump rising in my throat, and my fists would start to clench and unclench. I could feel tension building up inside, and the lump in my throat would begin to make my throat close. I would want to scream at the child, “SHUTUP!! STOPCRYING!! until the crying stopped, and I could barely keep from hitting or shaking the child to make him or her stop crying.

Needless to say, you can see why I had to stay away from children!

But it’s different now. All of those negative feelings are gone, thank God. Now I feel a wonderful peace, and a deep, abiding joy when I’m with Jonathan. I’m able to sing to him, and play with him, and just enjoy being with him, rather than worrying that he’s going to trigger me into abusing him. I will probably always be careful when I’m around children, out of an abundance of caution, because I would never, ever, want to be guilty of hurting one of God’s innocents in the way I was hurt. But I’m so grateful to God for healing me in such marvelous ways that I can now allow myself to be around children. Having to keep myself away from them always caused me tremendous heartache, because I love children! They’re amazing!

Thank you, Jesus!!

Hurray for a Working Computer!

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My computer was completely non-functional for about two weeks, so I had to do everything on my iPad. It wasn’t much fun, I can tell you. Writing on an iPad is very difficult to do if you don’t have an external keyboard, which I don’t, and as consequence I haven’t been able to post anything here for most of that time. I’ve decided the iPad isn’t good for anything but playing games, and maybe making art if you can figure out how to use the apps.

Part of the problem was that it took my computer guy two weeks to figure out what was wrong. As it turned out, the problem was a simple, yet profound fix. Something, I forget what, had come loose inside the casing of the computer, and as a result, I couldn’t even boot up properly. Everytime I turned it on all I got was a blinking file folder with a question mark in the middle of it.

I thought I was going to have to buy a new computer, and after pricing them out, it would have cost me almost $4000 to get a new Mac with the specifications that I needed. I’m very grateful to God for saving me $4000!

But finally, Tuesday, they figured it out and fixed it. Praise God! And now I have it back, fully functioning. I can post here and play games and listen to Scripture and go online, and just EVERYTHING!! I can also pay my bills, thank God.

You don’t realize how much you need something, and how grateful you are that you have it, until you have to go without it for awhile.

It’s a good lesson in gratitude that I must remember to keep on practicing!

As Far As the East Is From the West

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I was driving to a friend’s house the other night (about 3 a.m. on May 28th), and listening to the radio as I was driving. I forget if it was a song, or something the DJ said, but whatever it was, it got me thinking about the phrase, “as far as the east is from the west”, which is a phrase used in Psalm 103,

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. ~ Psalm 103:11-12, NKJV.

So then I started thinking of all these questions: can you reach the east if you start in the west? Can you reach the west if you start in the east? I mean, you can reach the North Pole if you start from the South Pole, and vice versa, so why can’t you reach the east from the west? The problem is, there is no East Pole, nor is there a West Pole to use as starting points, as there is with the North and the South Poles.

So maybe being able to physically travel from west to east, or from east to west, isn’t the point of the idea.

What is the point, then?

When I asked myself that question, I started thinking about the images that come to mind when I think about the phrase, “as far as the east is from the west…”. Things like the infinitude of God’s love, and the limitless quality of His mercy. Most particularly, however, the image that comes to mind is that of Christ on the cross with His arms stretched out from east to west. It says in the Book of John,

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. ~ John 15:13, NKJV.

Jesus Christ’s whole purpose for stepping down from the Majesty on High and coming to earth was to go to the cross and take humanity’s place, to take the punishment for our sin. That’s how much God loved us, that He would plan, with His Son and the Holy Spirit, from the foundation of the world, to deal with the problem of sin by sending Jesus to earth to take our place and assume our punishment. And a terrible punishment it was, because our sin was terrible. It still is, but Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient to take care of all of it for all time.

To me, this is beauty personified.

Oh my! When I think of that I’m left speechless! I am a sinful person. I’m full of pride, and I make mistakes all the time, every day. One of my many favorite verses in the Bible is from Romans 7,

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.

I can so well relate to the Apostle Paul here! The preceding verses describe my day-to-day, sometimes minute-to-minute existence. Romans 7 portrays it so well,

I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. ~ Romans 7:19, NLT.

It’s almost as if God was watching me when He told Paul to write that passage of Scripture! And yet, He loves me and wants me, regardless of my sinfulness.

I thank God for that everyday and in every way.

O Wretched Man That I Am!

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Every once in awhile I do or say something that reminds me of just how sinful I truly am.

On May 5th (the second Sunday after Easter), Nick Vujicic, founder of Life Without Limbs, a ministry based in Australia, preached at my church. He’s very well known, so all three services were quite well attended, with the main sanctuary being packed, and the overflow seating as well.

I was able to get a seat in the main sanctuary, but only just barely. I have a compulsive need to sit on the aisle, because I feel closed in if there are people sitting on both sides of me, and the only aisle seat available was down in front next to the wall. Unfortunately, even though the seat was on the aisle, because it was next to the wall and by the stage ~ basically in the right front corner of the room ~ my ability to see the stage, and therefore Nick Vujicic, was extremely limited.

There was one open seat next to me that improved my visibility, so I sat there, and prayed that no one would take the aisle seat.

Actually, what I thought was, “I hope whoever sits there isn’t fat like me.”

Then I listened to what I’d just said to myself, and felt a wave of disgust wash over me. This couldn’t be pleasing to God! What was I to do?

I quickly decided that the most important thing I needed to do was repent, and ask for God’s forgiveness, so that’s what I did.

But God’s forgiveness notwithstanding, I was still left with the disquieting question of why I’d allowed myself to think like that in the first place.

That’s when the Holy Spirit reminded me of Romans, Chapter Seven,

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. … For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. … Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:15, 19, and 24, ESV.

When the Scriptures were originally written down they weren’t separated into chapters and verses, so Romans 7 and Romans 8 were transcribed as one long discourse.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that, because, while Romans 7:15 through the end of the chapter bemoan our sinfulness, Romans 8 gratefully and joyfully acknowledges Christ’s victory over that sin through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Chapter 8 also specifically says that nothing, including our sin, can separate us from the love of Jesus,

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39, ESV.

I’m so grateful and thankful for God’s love for me! Now I need to get my thought-life in line with God’s Word, and specifically the fruit of the Spirit listed in the Book of Galatians,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:22-23, ESV.

So all is not lost. God’s Word is at work in my life, and while I did experience an unpleasant confrontation with my humanity and sinfulness, I also became aware once again of just how much God loves me regardless of my sin.

Thanks be to God for His unfathomable and unspeakable gift!

New Mercies Every Morning

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One of my favorite passages of scripture is from the Book of Lamentations (a short little five chapter book in the Old Testament right after the Book of Jeremiah),

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:21-23, NIV.

I love knowing that God has new mercies and fresh compassion for me every single day. It’s wonderful to know that His faithfulness towards me is such that I never have to worry that I might wake up one morning and find out that God is having a bad day. God isn’t capricious like my father was. I could never tell from one minute to the next how my father would be feeling, and therefore how he would treat me.

My father was diametrically opposite from, and opposed to, everything about God. The most dependable thing about my father was that you couldn’t depend on him for anything.

But God is everything my father wasn’t, and He never changes. It says this in a number of different ways throughout the Bible, and I am so very grateful and thankful to God for His constancy and faithfulness. The Book of Hebrews says,

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8, ESV.

It says in the Book of Numbers,

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

And one of my all-time favorites,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. ~ James 1:17, KJV.

Last, but certainly not least,

35, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36, As it is written: “For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37, No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:35-39, NIV.

The Old Testament verse referenced in Verse 36 comes from the Book of Psalms,

Yet for Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. ~ Psalm 44:22, NIV.

It’s extremely comforting to me to know that it’s impossible to separate me from Christ’s love, that God won’t let anything, ANYTHING, come between me and Him, and He’s proven that to me too many times to count. The most obvious confirmation, of course, is the cross, but just the fact that He’s been with me and kept me alive all my life ~ even when I didn’t know Him ~ is all the evidence I need, even if I didn’t have the cross. But I thank God for the cross!

 

Author and Finisher

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I love the phrase, “…the author and finisher of our faith…” in Hebrews 12:2. It’s talking about Jesus, of course. I like the way the NIV puts it,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of [our] faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV.

It’s like my faith ~ my story ~ is a book, and Jesus is its author. He’s the One who began my story, and He’s the One who will finish it, as it says in Philippians,

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. ~ Philippians 1:6, NLT.

I love the Bible. It always tells the truth. The verses I quoted above tell the truth about God’s activity in my life. And the cardinal truth can be found in this verse in Hebrews,

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, NLT.

Throughout my life ~ through all the abuse, all the times my mother tried to kill me, all the horrendous and terrible things my father did to me, all my suicide attempts, even during the period where I was enraged at God ~ through all of it, God was there, keeping me alive, shielding me from the worst of the abuse, and even protecting me from myself.

He’s never failed me, He’s never forsaken me, He’s never abandoned me, plus He’s given me beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, as it says in Isaiah,

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. ~ Isaiah 61:3, NKJV.

God has given me so much beauty in my life! He’s been so incredibly good to me, and He continues to be so on a daily, minute-by-minute basis. The cross is the best, most beautiful gift He could ever give me. It’s the best demonstration of true love anyone could ever give to another person, as it says in the Gospel of John,

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~ John 15:13, NLT.

An Ugly Mind Made Beautiful.

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When the movie, A Beautiful Mind came out I had a hard time watching it because I could relate to some of John Nash’s experiences, in particular the insulin shock therapy he was treated with while he was in the hospital.

The reason I can relate to the insulin shock therapy he endured is because when I was a child and being abused in the cult in the 50’s and 60’s, the cult abusers had to have a way to make their victims forget what they’d done to them, and insulin shock, sometimes called subcoma insulin shock, was the method they used. There were doctors and nurses present who were cult members, and they monitored the victims, who were usually children, to make sure nothing bad happened to them while they were unconscious, and also to administer the insulin in the first place. The correct dosage had to be calculated based on the victim’s height and weight, and doctors and nurses were the only ones who knew how to do that.

Seeing that movie is what triggered that memory, and I haven’t been able to watch it since, which is unusual for me. Usually I love seeing movies again and again and again.

The movie also reminded me that when I was little I used to crave sugar all the time. Regularly for breakfast I would have cereal with multiple heaping spoonfuls of brown sugar on it, and my mother never stopped me from doing it ~ something that only makes sense if I had a lot of extra insulin in my blood to metabolize away. And now, while I’m not diabetic, thank God, I am insulin resistent. Another way of thinking of that is that because of the insulin shock to which I was subjected, my tissues aren’t as responsive to insulin as they would otherwise be.

It doesn’t usually affect me. Every once in awhile, if I don’t eat anything at all over a long period, I begin to get a little hypoglycemic, but that’s about it. Plus my doctor has prescribed a very good medication that helps to moderate things quite well.

I thank God that Jesus is my Healer, and my Redeemer! I pray that Jesus has healed me of insulin resistence! I forgive everyone who caused it, and I hope I’ll see them in Heaven so I can tell them I forgive them.

It was a form of torture. It makes me feel sad knowing that I was tortured. Even though I’ve described other cult rituals that could be said to be torture, this is the first time that I’ve actually said the words, “I was tortured.” This is the first time I’ve acknowledged it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Maybe it is because I’m accepting reality.

It also makes me feel sad knowing that people are cruel to each other so often. It makes no sense to me that people treat each other like that, because it seems like it would be easier to be kind. Being mean and cruel makes things so much more difficult, because then, in the process, a lot of times you break a law and have to go to court, and then to jail. If people would just be kind they could avoid all that, and they might learn about the mysteries of God into the bargain.

It sounds like a good deal to me. Maybe not to other people, but certainly to me…

 

Quirky Questions to Make You Think

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I recently took a class through the RZIM Academy called What Does It Mean To Be Human? It was without doubt the best class I’ve ever taken anywhere, with the possible exception of Why Suffering, which was another class offered by the Academy.

Every class I’ve ever taken through the Academy has been exceedingly well done, but this last class was by far the best. I always learn a lot when I take these classes, but this time I learned a lot, and they made me think, probably more than in any other class.

One of the assignments we had to do was to come up with ten questions on what it means to be human. The variety of questions that people came up with was really cool.

I decided I’m going to post my questions here, and then try and come up with answers for each one.

So here goes…

  1. What is it about being human that makes man unique from all other creatures on earth?
  2. What is it about being human that gives man the capacity for spirituality?
  3. What is it about being human that gives man the desire to know and understand truth?
  4. What is it about being human that gives man the craving for beauty, and the ability to pursue perfection in the arts?
  5. What is it about being human that gives man the desire to know his origins, to know where he came from, deeper than just the details about sex?
  6. What is it about being human that gives man the hunger for morality, and the consequent ability to establish governments, and make rules and laws?
  7. What is it about being human that gives man the curiosity to pursue knowledge in the sciences and other fields of inquiry?
  8. What is it about being human that gives man the capacity to love sacrificially, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, to hate absolutely?
  9. What is it about being human that gives man the yearning to find meaning in his life?
  10. What is it about being human that makes people crave to know their destiny? In other words, what happens to us when we die?

So those were my ten questions. I don’t know how good they are, but I like them. The purpose of the assignment was to come up with questions that would make people think about what it means to be human, and to make them think more deeply about the things of the Spirit, and of God.

I want to start by answering the first question in this post, and then answer the questions one or two at a time in successive posts.

So, here I go with Question #1:

What is it about being human that makes man unique from all other creatures on earth?

I think the answer to that question lies more than anything in the idea, corroborated in Scripture, that human beings are created in the image of God. It says in the Book of Genesis,

And God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. ~ Genesis 1:26-27, ESV.

There are a lot of thoughts that run through my mind when I contemplate the idea that God, Master of the Universe, Creator of All Things, would create me in His image. That boggles my mind. As amazing and marvelous and wonderful and mysterious as God is, He created me in His image, and after His likeness.

Then I find myself wondering, what does it mean to be created in the image of someone? Is it about being created like that person, and if it is, like that person in what way? Since this is in reference to God, it can’t have anything to do with physical appearance, because God is Spirit.

Then Kim sent me some helpful ideas. God created us to reflect Him, kind of like a mirror, and He is, at the simplest level, Light, Life, and Love, so we were created to reflect God’s Light, God’s Life, and God’s Love, because those are God’s defining characteristics.

Something else Kim reminded me of: if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. Jesus Himself said that,

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! So why are you asking Me to show Him to you?” ~ John 14:8-9, NLT.

First, God is light, as it says in 1 John,

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. ~ 1 John 1:5, NASB.

Then, God is love, also in 1 John,

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8, NASB.

And also in 1 John,

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16, NKJV.

The idea that God is life is a little more difficult, because there isn’t a scripture that says plainly, God is life, as there are for the other two concepts. But inferences and deductions can be made, and conclusions can be drawn, so I’ll try and do exactly that.

Peter calls Jesus Christ the Author of Life in the Book of Acts. In order for someone to be the author of life, that person has to have life in himself, and Jesus Christ certainly had that, and still does in inexhaustible supply,

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact! ~ Acts 3:15, NLT, NIV, ESV, and RSV.

And “Author of Life” is translated variously, “Prince of Life”, in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASV, YLT, WEB, and HNV; “Source of Life” in the CSB; and “Originator of Life” in the NET and the DBY.

All of which means that God is Life because He is the source and originator of life. Plus Jesus said about Himself,

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One. ~ John 10:29-30, ESV.

In addition, Jesus says to Martha, the sister of Lazarus who He raised from the dead, in John, Chapter 11,

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies… ~ John 11:25, NASB.

So Jesus says He is the resurrection and the life (resurrection and life used as nouns). He’s saying that He has life, and that He is life.

I don’t know how close I’ve come to answering the question, but at least I’ve made a stab at it. I’m sure there’s more I could say, and I may come back and add more later on.

Revenge Is God’s Job, Not Man’s.

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I think I know why vigilante justice is wrong. It occurred to me that vigilante justice is man’s attempt to get revenge when God said specifically that vengeance was His responsibility. It says in the Book of Romans,

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” ~ Romans 12:19, ESV.

And Paul is quoting Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy when he says that (Deuteronomy 32:35).

That says to me that revenge is God’s job, not ours. I often wonder if the reason people practice vigilante justice is because they either don’t believe God exists, so they feel they have to get justice themselves, or they don’t trust that He’ll get the justice they want, or need, or think they deserve for that crime. Either way they’re wresting control of when justice is served out of God’s hands, and into their own hands.

When someone has a vested interest in seeing a particular person convicted for a crime, regardless of that person’s actual guilt or innocence, if the person is acquitted then the one with the personal stake in his conviction can be a prime candidate for vigilante justice because he didn’t get his desired outcome.

God knows the whole story. He can see the whole picture, whereas we only know what we can see and hear and feel. We will never know another person’s motivation for what they did, and we won’t usually know if that person is lying, unless they break down and confess that they lied.

What if the person we’re pursuing is actually innocent of the crime we’re accusing him/her of? Even though we think we know who committed the crime, we don’t know everything, and we might be wrong. There’s no such thing as a perfect murder where God is concerned because God knows everything, EVERYTHING, and even if the real killer is never apprehended here on earth, God still knows who did it. That person will still have to face God’s justice and judgment in the end, regardless of what happens here on earth.

I know it’s hard to trust God about something so personal and painful as when someone dear to you has been attacked and/or murdered. I’ve been a victim of serious crime myself, and I know how difficult it is to trust God when you’ve been deeply wounded.

You might be saying, “How can I trust God when He allowed me to be so savagely hurt?” But I’ve come to know that it was God who protected me from the worst of the abuse. If God hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have survived. I would be dead, because those who were abusing me would have killed me, or I would have succeeded in one of my suicide attempts. And you might respond, “But if God is as powerful and as good as everyone says He is, then why was I abused at all? Why didn’t He stop the abuse from happening altogether?”

Unfortunately, there are some questions for which there just isn’t a satisfactory answer this side of Heaven, and this is one of them. The problem of evil is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith, and it’s also one of the main reasons people give for doubting God’s existence. The argument usually goes, if God is omnipotent then He could have stopped the evil from happening, and since He didn’t then He must not be omnipotent. And by the same token, if He’s completely good, then He wouldn’t have allowed the evil to happen in the first place, and since the evil did happen, then He must not be completely good.

My response to those arguments is that the people proposing them aren’t considering all the factors. There is the all-important detail of man’s free will. God created every single human being with a free will, and He cannot violate that will in any way at any time, otherwise it wouldn’t be free. God desires humans who will freely choose to fellowship with Him, and He can only get people who will make that choice by creating them with a completely free will. And that means a free will to reject Him just as much as to choose Him.

I can say that God is absolutely faithful, and He solved the problem of evil once for all at the cross. Colossians 2 says,

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross. ~ Colossians 2:14-15, NLT.

In addition, it says in the Book of Revelation,

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. ~ Revelation 1:18, KJV.

Jesus triumphed over Satan at the cross, and took the keys of hell and death away from him at that time, and as a consequence, death has lost its sting, as it says so well in 1 Corinthians,

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, ESV.

Even though Christ dealt with Satan at the cross, making a show of him openly as it says in Colossians, we won’t see the complete outworking of that victory until Christ returns at His Second Coming.

I think I’ll stop now. I’ve covered a lot of ground here, and meandered around a bit. I probably could’ve made this into two posts, especially because it got kind of long, plus I ended up on a different topic than I started out on, but I’m not sure I want to. Maybe I can tie it all together.

When someone is seeking their own justice, which is basically what vigilante justice is, they’re committing murder because they don’t trust the criminal justice system. Trying to exact your own justice is the wrong way to go about it. Killing another human being is always wrong no matter what, except if it’s in self defense.

God must be the judge, not man, and He works through the criminal justice system, as flawed as it is because it’s run by human beings. We need to trust that the truth will come out in God’s timing. You can’t hide anything from God. It says in the Book of Numbers,

But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the LORD, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. ~ Numbers 32:23, NLT.

So that’s all, folks!

Stunned and Gobsmacked, or, God Must Be Right and I Must Be Wrong.

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Maybe I’m doing better with God than I think I am. I’ve always thought it impossible for me to please God regardless of what I do, say, or think. I realize I’m probably seeing God through the lens of Harry. I wish I could just take the Harry-glasses off and break them into a million pieces and be done with them for good so I can see God as He truly is, but such is not to be, it seems, at least not yet.

But maybe I’m not doing as badly as I think I am. The Bible says,

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, NKJV.

Throughout my Christian life my greatest strivings and highest longings have always been to know God and to please Him, but doing that very thing is what has always caused me the greatest anguish, because I’ve felt the most hopeless about being able to do so. But the interesting thing was that in all my struggles and strivings I never stopped believing in God. I always believed that He existed, I always believed that His Word was true, even if I couldn’t believe it was true for me, though I desperately wanted to believe that it was.

If I’ve always believed, and never doubted, that God is, as it says in Hebrews 11:6; in other words, that He exists, seems to me that requires faith. Maybe even a lot of it, given the kinds of experiences I’ve lived through.

The Bible gives the definition of faith as,

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. ~ Hebrews 11:1, NLT.

So maybe I do have faith, possibly even a lot of it. I’ve been seeking God diligently my whole Christian life, regardless of any memories that were niggling in the background, or that were surfacing, or whatever. It feels scary for me to say that as a statement of fact, even arrogant. There’s a big part of me that wants to qualify it so my faith looks in some way less, but I don’t think I’ll do that, as uncomfortable as not doing so makes me feel.

But maybe God sees me differently than I do. I mean, the Bible says,

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV.

So maybe the way God sees me is completely different than the way I see myself, and more importantly, the way Harry portrayed me. The Bible says God created me in His image and after His likeness (see Genesis 1:26). I really like the way that sounds, because God doesn’t create anything ugly or defective or junky. He only makes beautiful things, and I finally figured out that God thinks I’m beautiful.

When I realized that I was utterly stunned and gobsmacked. God sees me as beautiful? Wow!! And God doesn’t make mistakes, so He must be right.

I think I’ll believe Him. He’s smarter than I am.

Which brings me back to whether I have faith or not. I must, if I’m choosing to believe what God thinks about me rather than what I feel about myself.

How cool is that!