As you know by now, I've been asking for revelation of God, of His love, of His character. You might wonder, what brought me to a place where I stopped believing that I knew the solutions and had the answers?
Like many many people, my life has been a hard experience. My teen years were so difficult I frequently thought about suicide. By the time I reached 20 I decided to do it but God intervened and I didn't. My 20's were hard and lonely. My late thirties and early thirties were spent in a bad marriage (bad for both people, not just me).
And now at the tender age of 37, I've finally begun to experience many many of the promises of God which are written in the bible. Really. I went to Israel last year and as I walked along the streets I got revelation after revelation. As I walked along things Jesus said came to mind and I'd have that "Oh!" experience where I suddenly realise what He was saying. In the right context it was so inspiring and almost obvious.
Last night I was attending the Valiant Man course on at our church. It was a session about male sexuality and the chemistry set in our heads. As I sat through it God began to reveal so much to me.
I kept seeing that shame (a feeling of unworthiness) has kept me far below my potential. I felt Him say to me many times "worthy". He was speaking into me that I am worthy. This clashed with my past experiences – particularly with the teen years where I longed for Him to respond to me, I cried out, I trusted, but my feeling of inner emptiness grew and grew until I faded away.
The revelation continued. I remembered that I had been crying out to Him as someone who was unworthy. In the anglican church I grew up in, I took seriously the words said every week before communion in "The Prayer of Humble Access" as we said "we are not worthy to gather up the crumbs under Your table". This prayer is not the words of Jesus, but of a Canaanite woman. It left me feeling that I was an emaciated and unworthy dog beneath a table. I heard it and said it week after week. We would all say it together – until I began to internalise that message. I believed I was unworthy and it fitted very neatly with my experience of my life, the pain of love and the rejection.
But the revelation at the Valiant Man course continued: God was saying to me He could not respond to that approach because it would reinforce the wrong belief about my relationship with Him. (He doesn't give bad gifts.)
The revelation continued. He seemed to be saying "You are worthy" to me.
- He looked around the earth, before I knew Him. He saw me and reached out to me.
- He chose me.
- He knows the number of hairs on my head.
- I am worthy.
- God loves me.
- I am a child of God.
(These things are true… do not let anyone tell you otherwise.)
As I sat in the group and shared, I cried and cried and when I looked at the other men, they all accepted me because my experience was familiar to them. Something broke and I felt so free. His truth sets us free. Now I finally know what that means.
Today I still feel free. I feel a peace and a sureness inside myself that I've only ever had in bits and pieces.
This was His choice and His timing to do this for me, but I want to encourage you about something. I have for endless numbers of years believed what the bible says about me. I've read the books. I've said the words. I've passionately belieeeeeeved! But I didn't feel better. All the words in the bible (like: I am a new creature, I'm free, I'm holy blameless and pure) didn't deeply touch me.
How could an honest God tell lies? He can't. Then why isn't the truth working? But finally it worked. What changed? Why did it work now?
Last week I finally got sick of things not working. I was saying the words yet again (I have them written on a whiteboard in my prayer room) and I finally decided instead to be honest with Him. I told Him it wasn't working and I said this prayer:
"Lord Jesus, this just isn't working! I say this stuff day after day and I still get beaten up and carry pain in my life. Why? I say and believe and say and believe but nothing happens. Please Lord, I'm asking You to reveal Yourself to me. Show me how You heal. Show me how You set people free. Please set me free."
I've passionately declared the truth so many times, but this time I was asking Him to reveal the truth to me so that the truth would change me and set me free. And how wonderful when it came!
And remember, we are His body on this earth – so it makes perfect sense that when the revelation came to me (directly) His body (the people) were there to support me, affirm me and encourage me. Jesus is Lord, but He works through people.