Category Archives: Free Will

I Am That Wretched Man (or Woman).

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

Paul was writing this about himself, but in reality it could be said about anyone who is willing to admit that they are sinful and desperately in need of God’s saving grace. I am one of those wretched people, which is why this post is entitled as it is. I am the wretched person spoken of in Romans 7:24, as is every human being, whether they’re willing to admit it or not.

Thankfully, however, Paul didn’t stop at verse 24. Verse 25 follows immediately thereafter,

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. ~ Romans 7:24-25, NLT.

This tells me a couple of things. Most obviously, it reminds me that I am a sinner, and then it emphasizes to me just how much I need Jesus and His saving grace. I thank God for His grace! I’d be dead without it! One of those nine suicide attempts would have succeeded had it not been for God’s efforts on my behalf.

7 But I must not be too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me. So a painful problem was given to me—an angel from Satan, sent to make me suffer, so that I would not think that I am better than anyone else. 8 I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. 9 But the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by my power.” So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, ERV (Easy-to-Read Version).

I like this translation best because it emphasizes the fact that God’s power works best when man’s weakness is fully acknowledged. And something that God showed me is that I don’t have to have a physical infirmity like Paul’s thorn in order for this to be true for me. All that’s needed is for me to recognize my total dependency on Him. I don’t find that hard to do, because I’m confronted many times everyday with how much I need Him.

As I stated above, I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for His working in my life from the beginning on. Either one of my mother’s attempts to kill me would have succeeded, or one of my own suicide attempts would have. And I like knowing that I need God that much. God has never failed me. He’s always kept His promises to me, He’s never lied to me, and He’s never betrayed me, unlike the humans in my life. God is completely dependable. He always has been, and He always will be.

There’s never been anyone like God in my life. Everyone I’ve ever known has betrayed me and let me down to one degree or another. So when I discovered that God was with me from the beginning of my life, protecting me from the worst of the abuse (the worst meaning Harry would kill me, which he threatened to do any number of times, or my mother would kill me, or the cult would), and keeping me alive until I could grow up and make my own decision to serve Him or not.

Of course I chose to serve Him after all He’s done for me!

So I may be that wretched woman, but I don’t mind, because Jesus is redeeming me every second of everyday. And God’s Word is true for me all the time, and is the foundation of my life.

I LOVE knowing that!! I LOVE being able to believe that and stand on it!!

The Right to Say No

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The phrase, “free will” isn’t found anywhere in Scripture, but the concept can be found from beginning to end throughout. It’s contained in the power of choice that God gives us in just about everything.


“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19, NLT.

God gave man a choice to follow Him from the very beginning.

The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” ~ Genesis 2:15-17, NLT.

Inherent in God’s commandment to Adam was the choice to not eat of the tree, or to eat of it, and God made very clear what would happen if Adam ate the fruit. He would die.

Then God created Eve from Adam’s ribs, but Adam didn’t give Eve the identical instructions that God had given him. God told him that he couldn’t eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam told Eve that she couldn’t eat it or even touch it (at least that’s how she interpreted what he told her).

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” ~ Genesis 3:1-3, NLT.

My point in focusing on man’s ability to choose in the Bible is that we have to make choices all the time, probably hundreds or thousands of times every day, many of them choices we aren’t even aware of. But people who have survived rape and other kinds of abuse may be more aware than most.

Whenever someone is subjected to a violent sexual assault, their right to refuse that person’s advances is snatched away from them. And if that person is a child, and her attacker is someone she has to trust in order to survive because he provides her with food and shelter, then she’ll be forced to submit to his demands, no matter how horrific, just to keep her most basic needs met.

The betrayal inherent in that situation is unimaginable for anyone but the child experiencing it, and the only reason it’s not impossible for her to think about is because she’s forced to live it.

The betrayal mentioned above has a name, betrayal trauma, which term was introduced by Jennifer Freyd, Ph.D in 1994. Betrayal trauma is defined as a trauma perpetrated by someone with whom the victim is close to and reliant upon for support and survival. Jennifer Freyd called it betrayal trauma theory because she intended it to address situations where the victim forgets, or represses, the abuse, and the element of betrayal is the most important aspect of the abuse that precedes the repression.

The closer the attacker is to the victim (for example, father to daughter), the greater the likelihood that the trauma will be forgotten and repressed. It’s a matter of survival. The attacker is someone who provides his victim with food and shelter, and other basic needs, and if it were to come out that the perpetrator were committing these heinous acts against this victim, then the support provided by the perp would be threatened, or even removed altogether, which could put the victim in even more danger than if the molestation were allowed to continue.

I know this hard, painful reality first hand because it happened to me throughout my childhood at the hands of my father, and I couldn’t say no to his advances. If I did I was severely beaten, and the rape was even worse than it would have been had I simply given in and submitted. He forced me to lie and say that nothing was going on. He threatened to kill me if I told by playing Russian Roulette with his revolver between my legs, and I had no choice but to believe him, because I was too young to know that he probably had blanks in the gun.

I got started thinking about this in the first place because I watched two movies on TV. The first one was called, You Can’t Take My Daughter. It’s based on the true story of a woman, Analyn Megison, who was raped and then became pregnant as a result. She subsequently decided to keep the baby. Six years later her rapist found her and sued her for custody of the child. You wouldn’t think that would be possible, but when this movie was made, it actually was in many states, because, as Analyn was told many times, a rapist father is just as good as any other father.

Fortunately, she won her case, because her rapist, who was never convicted for what he did to her, eventually stopped pursuing it. In the movie, he raped her in the first place because they took the same taxi home from a bar, and when the taxi dropped her off, he suggested that he could come in for a nightcap, but she said she wasn’t interested. So later on, in the middle of the night, he came back and knocked on her door. When she opened it, he pushed past her and shoved her up against the wall, saying, “You shouldn’t have said no,” and then he violently raped her. Her body was covered from head to toe with scrapes, scratches, and bruises the next day.

The other movie was on the Investigation Discovery Network, and, while I don’t remember any details, it was the story of a single mother who went to a party on the rough side of town someplace in New Mexico, and never made it home that night. When they finally found her battered and bruised body several days later, the story came out that she ran into someone at the party who came on to her, and she turned him down, but that enraged him, because he was someone you just didn’t say no to. So he beat her up so badly that she was unrecognizable by the time he was through with her.

Every person should have the right to say no. Violating someone’s most personal space, which is what happens in the case of rape, is the ultimate transgression, the ultimate sin against another person.

God gives us the right to refuse Him, even at the risk of our eternal destiny. and while human beings aren’t risking eternal punishment when they sin against another human being, sexual sin is among the worst of all possible sins, especially if it’s committed against a child.

I’ve forgiven my father for what he did to me, and my mother for not protecting me. I had to so I could find peace with God.

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” ~ Matthew 6:14-15, NLT.

I figure if I forgive them, then that releases them into God’s hands to do with them as He wills, and the Bible says that revenge belongs to God, (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19, and Hebrews 10:30), so I don’t need to get revenge because God will do a much better job of it than I ever could.

I can get behind that, and I can wait. There are times where patience is a good thing.

It feels like there is much more to be said here, but this is already way too long, so I’ll leave the rest for another post…

Rats. I Just Gotta Let Myself Feel the Pain, ‘Cuz Wherever I Go There I Am.

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The other evening as I was watching the news, they announced that Olivia de Havilland had died, and then later on they announced that Regis Philbin had died as well. While Olivia de Havilland might not be as familiar to many people nowadays as Regis Philbin was, she was very familiar to people my age and older. She played Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind, one of her best known roles, and one for which she received an Oscar nomination. She was 104 when she died.

My point in mentioning these people’s deaths is that when I heard the news of their passing, it hit me rather hard ~ harder than I would have expected ~ and I’ve reached a point with this blog where my first thought when I’m upset about something is to come here and talk about it with you, my followers.

So here I am…

My immediate reaction when I heard the news of de Havilland’s and Philbin’s deaths was to run away. What ran through my mind was that everything was happening way too fast, and I couldn’t control it. And then I reminded myself that I’m not in control anyway, and running away is useless, because regardless of where I go, I’m still with me. Or, wherever I go, there I am, one of my favorite existential statements.

It’s impossible to escape from myself, and it’s also impossible to escape from God,

I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your Presence! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your Hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night ~ but even in darkness I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You. ~ Psalm 139:7-12, NLT.

Though, now that I think of it, while I might want to escape from myself, I don’t want to get away from God, because God is the only One who truly understands me and wants the best for me. And once I realized that I couldn’t run away from the pain of losing familiar parts of my life, and that I couldn’t control how quickly everything was happening, I started to cry, because I realized I had to let myself feel the pain.

And who wants to do that? It’s so very painful afterall, and no one likes to experience pain.

But then I remembered that Jesus allowed Himself to feel pain. He wept when He learned that Lazarus had died, the shortest verse in the Bible,

Jesus wept. John 11:35, NKJV.

And the cross was the ultimate expression of Jesus feeling pain, because on the cross He bore the sin, pain, and sickness of all mankind forever. In fact, that was why He came to earth and assumed human flesh in the first place,

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose Him as your ransom long before the world began, but He has now revealed Him to you in these last days. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-20, NLT.

I love that. God chose Jesus to be my ransom long before the world began. It just boggles my mind that God would plan that far ahead for my salvation, and I love Him for that. That says to me that He was thinking of me for a very long time before I was ever a thought in my parents’ minds, and not only me, but every single human being who ever existed.

And if Jesus can make that choice, can choose to do the hard stuff, even the hardest stuff of all, and experience the excruciating agony of the cross, and even worse, the abandonment of His Father, so that I ~ we ~ can have relationship with Him, well, then I can make the same choice, and allow myself to feel the comparatively small pains of my life.

I thank You, Jesus, and my Father, and Holy Spirit, for giving me that choice, and for giving me the ability and strength to make it!

WOW!! PRAISE GOD FOREVERMORE!!

Love, the Highest Ethic

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An ethic is defined as a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.

In Ravi Zacharias’ latest book, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, which was released in April, he wrote,

…love is the supreme ethic. Where there is the possibility of love, there must be the reality of free will. Where there is the reality of free will, there will inevitably be the possibility of sin. Where there is sin, there is the need for a Savior. Where there is a Savior, there is the hope for redemption. Only in the Judeo-Christian worldview does this sequence find its total expression and answer.

~ Ravi Zacharias, The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 04/2019, pg 3.

I love this quote. I especially love the logic of it. It shows me that God is logical, in addition to all His other amazing attributes. He’s a God of love and He’s logical. How cool is that!

I’ve been on a kick about free will lately. I think the most important part of what Ravi Zacharias said here is the part about love, combined with the part about free will. Without love, free will is an impossibility, and without free will, human beings wouldn’t know how to love, because they’d be nothing more than robots, all of which means that free will and love are inextricably intertwined. And what follows after that is a kind of cascade of logic.

And then God brings it down to meet me where I live. God loved me so much that He gave me a free will so I could choose whether I wanted to love Him back, or reject His love. He could have said, I love you, and you will love Me back, and that’s the way it will be.

But if He’d done it that way, I wouldn’t have had a choice in the matter, and I would have been a love-robot, or a love-slave, loving God by rote. That wouldn’t have been real love, though, would it? That would be slavish obedience; Yes, Master, No, Master; not obeying because you adored Him so much that you would do anything for Him out of love.

God wanted humans to love Him freely, not because they had to, and not because He’d commanded them to. So He took a risk, a huge risk, and created every human being with a completely free will so they could make their own choices. And if that person chose to reject God and His love for them, then so be it. But if that human accepted God’s love, then he’d receive everything in Heaven and on earth that God had to offer.

The way I see it, God gave me the most incredible gift anyone could ever present to me, the gift of salvation. And I didn’t have to do anything at all to earn it. It was completely free. All I had to do was believe it was mine and receive it.

I knew I needed to be saved, desperately, but I couldn’t understand why God, Master of the Universe, Creator of all Things, would want to save me, probably the worst sinner ever, though if He wanted to do so I wouldn’t argue with Him. I’d just accept it. I’m not one to turn down free gifts! Not me!

Even at that, it took me many years before I could trust Him enough to believe that He meant what He’d said in His Word, because of all the lies my father (Harry) had told me. He had to abuse me because God hated me, and I was as ugly as if someone had thrown acid in my face were the two main ones, because they were a litany he repeated over and over and over again until they were ingrained in my nervous system. The guy in the white robe posing as God, sitting on the throne, who sometimes looked like Harry, telling the others what to do to me in the cult rituals, was the other big one. 

It took many, many years of consistently reading and studying the Bible before God was able to replace the poison and lies with the truth. But it did happen, and still is happening even today. God is still healing me, because there are times where I find myself falling back into old ways, and believing old lies. It doesn’t happen very often anymore, but it does happen from time to time. Now I know that God thinks I’m beautiful. That’s a truth I hold onto very tightly.

The upshot of it is that I’m incredibly grateful to God for everything He’s done for me. Not only has He saved me so that I’m able to know Him, and I get to go to Heaven when I die, the best double whammy ever, but He’s healed me ~ and is continuing to heal me ~ from the worst childhood ever. And if that wasn’t enough, He’s supplied my needs beyond all that I could ask or think. I never knew I could be this happy, or have this kind of peace or joy! My gratitude to Him makes me want to serve Him, makes me desire to love Him back, just because He’s been so good to me!

I know I still blow it, I still sin from time to time ~ far more often than I’d like. But when I do mess up, I pray that God will forgive me, because I value much too highly my close relationship with Him to want to stay in sin. Humans can’t help but sin, simply by the very fact that we’re human, but once we’re born-again, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and He helps us to not sin.

And that’s, once again, where our free will comes in. We can still make choices one way or the other. The Holy Spirit, being our Helper, aids and strengthens us, if we’ll take His assistance, to choose the right way. He’ll help us to avoid temptation,

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT. 

Jesus called the Holy Spirit variously, the Comforter, the counselor, the advocate, and the helper, depending on the translation,

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me… ~ John 15:26, NASB.

But we still have to make the choice to take the Holy Spirit’s assistance. I still have to make the choice to take His help, follow His advice, and sometimes I don’t, I’m ashamed to say.

Interestingly, I can still feel God’s Presence with me, even when I do sin. He never leaves me, He never forsakes me, just as He promised in His Word,

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, ESV.

It makes me want to try ever harder to not sin at all!

God so amazing!