Category Archives: God’s grace

A Hidden Bit of Divinity

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Have you ever had the experience of reading through a passage of Scripture, and coming to a verse you’ve read many times, but this time God shows you something in the verse that makes you feel like you’d never seen the verse before? I had that experience recently when I read John 17:5,

And now, Father, glorify Me at Your side with the glory I had with You before the world was created. ~ John 17:5, NET.

I like the way the New Living Translation puts it,

Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. ~ John 17:5, NLT.

There are a number of places, especially in the Gospel of John, where Jesus declares Himself to be the Son of God, and/or to be equal with God, and John 17:5 is a clear statement of Jesus’ divinity. I’d never seen it before, but there it is. And now, everytime I read it, I get excited, because I understand what He’s saying there. John 17 is what many people call Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer to the Father before He went to the Cross. While most people think of Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 as being the Lord’s Prayer,

Therefore, you should pray like this: our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as Holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ~ Matthew 6:9-13, CSB.

I think of John 17 as being the Lord’s Prayer more than Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. The passages in Matthew and Luke are important because they’re where Jesus gave us a roadmap on how to pray to the Father. But to me John 17 is more literally the Lord’s Prayer because that’s where Jesus spoke directly to God, and He spent the whole chapter doing so.

There is so much rich meat in this chapter!

I won’t talk about all of it here because there’s so much, but there is one little tidbit I want to mention.

In the second verse Jesus says that God gave Him authority over all flesh,

When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him.” ~ John 17:1-2, ESV.

In context, the authority over all flesh is referring to the fact that God gave Jesus the authority to give eternal life to everyone that God had given to Him. But I think it could also be said that the authority referenced here could be authority over other things.

For instance, when I read that God had given Jesus authority over all flesh, the very first thing that popped into my mind was that it was no wonder healing came so easily to Him. God gave Him authority over all flesh, so all He had to do was exercise that authority for healing to happen.

I think we can have little hidden bits of divinity as we go about our everyday lives. For me these bits of divinity are unexpected encounters with God ~ moments where I happen on a beautiful bit of scenery that takes my breath away, or when I read a particularly lovely poem or portion of prose, or when I hear an especially joy-filled piece of music. I call these times bits of divinity because they’re unanticipated, and because they make me think of God when they happen. It’s like God gives me a little gift out of the blue, a little bit of beauty that just pops up out of seemingly nowhere. And the only response I can give Him in return is to praise Him.

Another hidden bit of divinity might be when we help someone in need,

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! ~ Hebrews 13:2, NLT.

How cool it would be to know that you actually helped an angel when you thought you were helping a human being.

That would be pleasing to God, and there’s nothing better than that!

In Which I Begin to Deal With the Hard Stuff

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I’ve begun to realize that I only talk about surface stuff when I go to therapy, which feels like a waste of resources (McT’s time and my money). I’ve been seeing someone for therapy off and on, mostly on, for about forty years. Some of the therapists were fairly decent, some of them were not so good. Some of them were perfectly AWFUL, and maybe two or three of them were spectacularly good. All of them were Christians, except for the first one I ever saw, because I didn’t have a hand in choosing him, plus I wasn’t a Christian yet, so having a Christian therapist wasn’t important to me.

The reason I avoid talking about what I call the hard stuff is because it’s painful, and therefore difficult to talk about.

When I was little and multiple, and being abused in the cult, they would program us by repeating the medical words of sexual body parts over and over again to make certain alters come out and take off their clothes and lay down and wait to be raped. 

So now, even though I’m no longer multiple, whenever I hear any of those words, I feel an incredible amount of anxiety inside, and I can’t say them myself, nor can I write them. If I try to write them I have to scribble them out so you can’t see what was written there. If I were to let the word stay visible the anxiety would be so great that it feels like I’d be annihilated by it. It feels like I’d blow up.

Some of the words are worse than others, and some are just plain impossible.

So the upshot of it is that I need to work on those issues. I’ve tried to work on them before, but it never goes very far. After talking about it for a few sessions I usually end up backing off my resolve and going back to talking about the easy stuff again. But I don’t want to be in bondage forever, so I can’t do that anymore.

Part of me is afraid to talk about it simply because I don’t know what it would be like to be free of the problem. Kind of silly, I know, but there it is.

And part of dealing with the hard stuff is taking showers. I took one this morning.

Wonders may never cease.

It’s probably been about six months since my last shower, I’m ashamed to say, but try as I might, I just couldn’t make myself do it before now.

Taking showers has been a problem of long standing for me. The very first abuse memory I ever had was of Harry forcing me to have oral sex with him in the shower when I was about two years old. I got so confused and frightened that I lost control of my bowels and pooped on the shower floor. Of course, that enraged him, so he picked it up and threw it at me, and then he forced me to eat it. Then he dragged me into the bedroom and raped me.

So, needless to say, showers are a huge problem for me, and baths are even worse, but God is good, and I’m hoping and praying that He will intervene and help me with this problem just as He’s done with all my other issues.

And that, as they say, is that.

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!

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.

Justice and Mercy Both Win at the Cross

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God showed me something this morning. I was driving to a doctor’s appointment and listening to a song on the radio. The song reminded me of a Scripture verse I’ve been thinking about recently, James 2:12-13,

So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ~ James 2:12-13, NKJV.

What I realized was, at the cross God got the justice He required for humanity’s sin because Jesus bore the punishment for our sins by dying for us. But God isn’t only a just God, He’s also a merciful God; two of His attributes are justice and mercy, not just justice. And at the cross God required justice, but He also desired mercy for His dealings with mankind. So He got justice by allowing Jesus to bear the punishment we deserved, and then gave us His mercy and grace as a free gift instead.

How cool is that?!

Instead of the justice and punishment we deserved, we got the mercy and grace we didn’t earn ~ and sonship! We became sons and daughters of God because we were adopted into the family of God!

All we have to do is receive His free gift of salvation by faith. We don’t have to be good enough, or clean enough, or anything enough. All we have to do is confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts according to Romans 10:9-10,

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10, NLT.

It doesn’t seem like a fair exchange, does it? Maybe that’s because it’s not, but who am I to argue when I get by far the best end of the deal! I mean, all God gets is little ole, imperfect me. And I get Jesus Christ as a big brother, and saved, and redeemed, and the whole Kingdom of God, and Heaven, and a relationship with God, and EVERYTHING!!

Such a deal!! It absolutely boggles my mind, and fills me to overflowing with such gratitude that I can hardly think straight!

Thank you, Jesus!!

The Continuing Saga of My Struggles With Mom’s Death, or Why Can’t I Cry?

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Well, it’s now May 8th, seven weeks to the day since Mom died.

I’m still struggling, though the issues are somewhat different. Now it’s more about realizing how much I miss what I had with her while she was here. And the frustrating thing is, while she was here, I didn’t know I had it.

Jeff says I was never, not from the very beginning of my life, able to establish a real bond with my mother, so it’s understandable that I wouldn’t feel much in the way of grief when she died. I can see where he’s right about that, but it still feels wrong that I’m not all broken up that she’s gone.

I still haven’t had a memorial service for her. I’m fairly certain there are people who would come to one, but I can’t seem to rev up any interest in planning it. I just want to forget about the whole thing and go on with my life, but I don’t know if it’s okay to feel like that, and even more, if it’s okay to do that ~ mostly because it feels like if I did that I’d be pretending my mother never existed.

I feel like my mother left a desert in my heart. I know that’s not true, because God has done a tremendous amount of healing in me, but somehow, that’s how it feels, and that’s the picture I get when I think about my mother’s influence in my life over the years. I guess I shouldn’t worry whether my feelings are right or wrong, and just accept them as my current reality. If I do that then I can ask God to heal what’s there and change my current reality to a new one that’s better and more God-honoring, as well as mother-forgiving, with no desert. Isaiah 35:4-6 says,

4Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” 5And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. 6The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. ~ NLT.

That’s what I want my life to be like: where flowers are always blooming, and hearts are always joyful, and God is easy to find. In other words, Heaven!