Changing in Response to God’s Love

lifeContinued from here.

The spring and summer of 2013 was one of the best seasons of my life. After 44 years of feeling parched for the tiniest drops of love from others, I was completely saturated in God’s love for me. So many of the rough edges of my personality became smooth in response to experiencing endless love. I had believed that I was “too needy” because of my childhood trauma. I learned that God’s love was more than enough to meet not only my own needs but also the needs of everyone around me. I changed radically over this season, and numerous people commented on it. As Beth Moore had said at the Sacred Secrets Living Proof Live Event, secrets manifest. As I had changed what I did “in the secret” with God, the fruit of my life also changed.

If I could have stayed in this honeymoon phase for the rest of my life, being a Christian on fire for God would have been super easy. However, God wants us chasing Him not for what He gives us but, instead, for who He is. While I try not to compare my own experiences to those of other people, I would not be surprised to learn that experiencing such as long honeymoon phase is unusual. I was particularly broken, so God might have known I needed a particularly long honeymoon to heal enough to get to work. If your honeymoon phase does not last as long as mine did, don’t feel cheated. That was drinking milk, and God wants us moving on to eating solid food as soon as we are ready.

Once God had healed me enough through His unending love to begin eating sold food, God called me to do something I really did not want to do – first to forgive a friend who broke my heart and then to forgive my child abusers. As motivation, God asked if I loved Him more than I hated them. I had declared numerous times that I would never forgive my child abusers, but I chose to believe and obey God by praying for them day after day, week after week, and month after month for well over a year until I realized I had, in fact, forgiven them. I knew I had forgiven them because the pain was gone.

I learned through that experience that God’s ways are always best. He didn’t tell me to forgive because “it’s the right thing to do” – He had me to do it because forgiveness is the path to LIFE! When I declared that I would never forgive, I was declaring my own death sentence. God’s ways are LIFE, and forgiving is the vehicle God uses for healing our emotional wounds. Once I learned this about God, obeying Him because much easier because I learned firsthand that EVERYTHING God commands is to give me life.

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[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace standing on the beach next to a seagull beside the word, “Life.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

God is Found when We Seek Him Wholeheartedly

drawing_heartContinued from here.

I don’t remember how much time elapsed between my deciding to seek God with my whole heart and finding Him, but it did not take long. The only tangible marker I have is that by June 2013 (three months later), I realized that God had fully healed the suicidal urges that had plagued me every minute of the day since I was a teenager. That came after I was already giddy with God’s joy and peace for a period of time, so I must not have had to wait very long…perhaps a few days or weeks.

Part of seeking God involved choosing to believe Him over my own experience, and that was challenging for me. I needed something to do during my quiet time hour after giving God my list of things I wanted Him to do for me and completing my Bible study homework. Beth Moore had said that God loves me wholeheartedly while I believed I was fundamentally unlovable, so I figured that would be a good starting point. I looked up scriptures that talked about how much God loves me. I then downloaded several Christian songs that focused on how much God loves me and started singing along to those during my quiet time. I started looking myself in the eye in the mirror and saying, “I love you” or “you are lovable,” even though I did not believe it. God used all of these simple acts of obedience to change my heart – to remove my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh.

Meditating on God’s truth that He loves me radically changed everything. I experienced joy and peace as never before. The best way to describe it is that I felt like I had gone through life holding out a Dixie cup, asking people to please spare the tiniest drops of love. Even a few drops could help. Because so few drops ever fell in my cup, I spent my life feelings empty and dry. God poured gallons of love into my cup, overflowing the entire room! For the first time in my life, I actually felt loved, and this came not from someone in skin but from an invisible God who I met with morning after morning. I was so saturated with His love that I had plenty to give to anyone I came into contact with. I had no need to hoard it.

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[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace drawing a large heart. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Making the Decision to Enter “into the Secret” with God

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February 2013 was my breaking point. I decided that if years of therapy and a long-term relationship with God wasn’t going to bring me any more relief from emotional pain than it already had, I wanted out. As I drove home alone from a road trip, I resisted the temptation to drive my car into each body of water I drove over while sobbing to God. If the end result of my hard work of therapy was only going to result in a few days of relief between weeks of emotional misery, I wanted out. If I could be assured that suicide would not result in hell, I would have driven my car off a bridge that day.

I challenged God when I got home – “If You really are bigger than my emotional pain, prove it!” I would do my part by only listening to Christian music and holding every thought captive to Christ for one day. If God didn’t come through, I was ready to end my life. To my complete shock, I experienced joy and peace in such an overwhelming measure that I wondered if my sanity had snapped, and I didn’t even care if it had! I had never experienced a day of such complete joy and peace, and it made me determined to find the secret to having regular access to it.

A few weeks later, in March 2013, I attended Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live event, which has been released as her Sacred Secrets study. The theme of this study is that “secrets manifest.” Whatever is going on “in the secret” of my heart bears fruit in my day-to-day life. Because myself and my pain were the primary focus of my heart, my life was bearing the fruit of bitterness and pain.

Moore shared another way to live. She pointed out that God created me “in the secret” and that before my mother knew she was pregnant with me, it was only God and me “in the secret” of her womb. She talked about how God wants a close, personal, intimate love relationship with me, but I would have to do my part to enter into His presence “in the secret.” I did not fully understand what I needed to do, but I left that event having made the life decision that I would begin the first hour of my day as a tithe of my time to God, no matter what – even if I am sick, or traveling, or have to get up early, or have insomnia. I would seek God first in my day and see what happens.

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[Graphic: Cover of Beth Moore’s Sacred Secrets – Small Group Kit: A Living Proof Live Experience. Courtesy Amazon.]