I recently spoke with someone that had been a part of the group I was involved in FORTY years ago. He had participated for just a few years. He shared with me how he had been haunted by regret, guilt and shame for all these years, feeling he had “blown it” by leaving when he did.
He was not just a little surprised when he read my book and was very relieved.
I could totally relate to how he felt, as I had felt that way for SO many years within our group. “If only I hadn’t done that, or if only I had done that better . . .” ad nausea, one time almost to the point of suicide. We live in a spiritual reality with our bodies and minds focused primarily on the physical universe. Just because we can’t sense it with our 5 senses, does not mean it doesn’t exist.
It has been my personal experience, and through Scripture, I firmly believe we are surrounded by spiritual beings, some for us (ie: guardian angels) and others against us (demons). Just as we were created for a purpose, these beings have purpose as well and they are fighting for our minds.
God, in His divine wisdom, created us in His image and gave the incredible power to choose. He desires relationship with His creation, not a robotic, programmed response. That’s why we have the power to think, to choose, to create and figure things out and to give or withhold love. I see myself as a toddler, just now (at age 63) finally figuring some things out in regard to how things work in this world! The lessons are not always easy or comfortable, similar to watching my 1 year old grandchild take all kinds of falls as she is learning to walk and run. But she is learning and so am I!
It has helped me immensely to know that:
- I do have an enemy and he is not flesh and blood but the enemy of God, satan; the master deceiver, the father of all lies.
- That He that is in me, Christ Jesus, is GREATER than he that is in this world (satan and his demons).
- I have choice to believe satan’s lies (oftentimes spoken unwittingly through others) or to believe God’s truth about who I am as He speaks to me through His written word and through the Holy Spirit that dwells within my body and mind – which is His holy temple (wow!)
The path that led me out of the many lies I was believing about myself and that brought to light God’s unconditional love for me was the path of Praise. As I learned to Praise God for ALL things (see Ephesians 5:20), it was like dynamite exploding and breaking up deeply held beliefs I had at my core.
The more grateful I became about things, the more baggage was blown to bits from the inside out. Slowly (sometimes EVER SO SLOWLY) joy began to replace the torment I experienced as I languished in regret over past mistakes and mentally rehearsed the lies I had been told by others and myself!
I started realizing how much God loved me – warts and all! He created me! He knows me inside and out and loves me completely, perfectly just the way I am. Boy that was so hard for me to accept. I had lived a “performance based” life my ENTIRE life! Yet somewhere deep inside, I knew and recognized this love God had for me. I had been touched by it often enough through the sincere kindness of a loved one, by an incredible sunset that filled me with peace, or by the unconditional love of a pet. I had just convinced myself that I didn’t deserve it – not all the time, not unconditionally. Surely I had to “earn” it like everything else in this life!
That, my friend is the GOOD NEWS! God’s gift to us; His Love, came to us in the form of a man, Jesus Christ who is Love incarnate, the link between the physical world and the spiritual one. All God and all man. Blows my mind. But this love, this grace He offers every one of us, IS available just for the asking AND receiving. Only because I trust in this Love, this person who gave up all on my behalf (and yours), can I be grateful for everything. And boy does that ever work! Give it a try this week and let me know how it goes. If you want to know more, I recommend Merlin Carothers’ books on Praise. You can find them at www.foundationofpraise.com