Have you ever gotten up and felt like you just do not have the mental energy or internal strength to face the day ahead? Your mind is at war with itself and your heart has no peace. In some ways you know that you cannot escape the conflict, even by going back to bed again. Your mind rages with the vivid pictures of what has happened, what your own involvement was and the looming consequences that likely will be manifested. You wish that there was a turn off switch in your brain, and in other circumstances you would use alcohol or drugs to numb yourself out. But now, you cannot go there to hide. You are seemingly trapped in a state of hell, unable to change any aspect of your present situation and seem to have nowhere to turn. You are not the only one who has suffered through this experience. In fact this happens to everyone at some point in their life, on a greater or lesser scale. It is just that most people never talk to anyone else about going through this struggle.
We all want to look good on the outside, like we are really in control of our lives. And some of us bluff it out all the way until we die. These individuals refuse to get real with themselves and cannot afford to be vulnerable with anyone else. Like great wandering animals, they spend their lives totally alone. Only making contact with others to fill some needs in their lives (food, drink, sex, shelter). What an incredibly lonely way to live out a lifetime of existence. They often blame other people for their situations and use that as justification to avoid any meaningful contact with others. In this letter I am hoping to explain the spiritual dynamic that leads us to this point of isolation and keeps us ignorant of the free gifts of God. It is our birthright to live as free men and women. That is the heritage that was given to us at birth.
When I speak of the ongoing battle between good and evil I am not referring to an excuse for our own personal behaviors. We are and always will be responsible for our choices, but we are born into a world where Satan is the ruler and he lays before us countless temptations to influence our everyday behaviors. We see these as our own decisions, free will choices, but the fact is that we are given the resources to make our way through life and to discover the underlying truth which guides life. Even as young children we feel a twinge of guilt when we do something wrong. That is the evidence of conscience which has been implanted into each of our lives. That small tug that pulls us from the inside when we venture into choices which would bring us into conflict with God’s law. We have all felt that pull to make the right choice and we have all failed at one time or another. But we have not been born into this life alone and without resources to help us make the right choices. That resource is the essence of our spiritual beings. We do not exist on a physical, mental, emotional and social basis alone. All of these aspects of life exist within the spiritual essence of our being. We get caught up in the “physical” things that we perceive often failing to look at the force behind ”what is.” Long before science discovered that all of the “matter” which we see is made up of constantly moving atoms and sub-atomic particles, the Bible had recognized this fact. Find it for yourself, it is there. It is also a clear indicator of the truth contained in these words of life.
We make our choices….we fall down…we struggle….we are wounded by the things that we choose. And then we get up and blindly start to make the same choices over and over again. We are like blind men trying to find our way through the darkness of life. But we are NEVER abandoned to that darkness. In fact living in darkness is a choice which we make because we live in a world where light and truth are constantly revealed to us in God’s word. Here is the key to life….we ALWAYS can ask for God’s help to navigate this battle between good and evil. We do not have to stand alone in this fight. In His great love for us, God has provided us with spiritual awareness and spiritual tools to recognize the difference between good and evil. At ANY time we can ask for His protection and provision in our lives and He will graciously guide us through the storms of life. What this means in practical terms is that even if we have blown every opportunity in life and are sitting awaiting our deaths because of choices we have made, God’s grace is as openly available as it was the first days of our lives.
He will respond to a heartfelt prayer from the depths of our beings as we recognize that we have lost all. He is our Creator and always acts out of love for us. Satan hates anything that reflects the image or likeness of God, so he will do all in his power to steal, lie and kill mankind. That is why this battle between good and evil rages around us. I may not have understood at the moment of my crime that I was playing a role in this battle, but God is so loving that once I do recognize the error of my ways and ask for His forgiveness, His Holy Spirit will start to transform my life into something of beauty and meaning according to His plan. Who else in our lives can transform the trash of our individual decisions into the treasures of eternity? It is all in His word, find it for yourself. These are not rash promises, they are given to each of us as free gifts from a loving God. Will you accept the gift that He offers to you freely? Even now He will redeem what has been lost and use your life for His own glory. Please, Please do not let Satan continue to steal the hope which has been given to each of us through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ dying on that cross to atone for our sins…all of our sins, not just my own. The result of His death and resurrection is the outflow of God’s Mercy, Grace and Forgiveness which changes the entire character of our lives. Look beyond the material aspects of this life….look beyond the bars and concrete that define your existence and see the true promise of eternal hope and glory.
If we are willing to see clearly, then it is possible to examine each individual life that we encounter and see that everyone has some aspects of living a double life. By that I mean that we have all chosen to look good on the outside while harboring sinful choices on the inside. There was and is only One who has ever lived on this earth who has had a single minded purpose to Love and Honor His Father. His name is Jesus Christ and He lived a life without sin to show us the way to His Father. He understands our fragility and knows the struggles we all face in confronting daily choices between good and evil. We are not alone and abandoned to walk out this life without His help. Every choice we make in life has eternal consequences and eternal possibilities. I remember being in prison and hearing the news that one of the older guards had come down with cancer and was going to die. Now here was a grumpy man who tended to make our lives difficult, but something in my spirit was called to pray for this man. I was not called to pray for his physical healing, but rather to pray for his spiritual healing. And so I followed the leading of the Holy Spirit and went about my daily activities silently lifting up this man who was moving toward the edge of eternity. My role for a short season in that prison was to lift up another human being.
What is your role, what choice can you make today to get outside of your own needs and wants and silently bless someone else? It is a free gift that we can choose to make on behalf of those who live in our immediate environments. I have no way of knowing what value those prayers made have had in this man’s life, but I know that there was an eternal purpose. No matter what circumstances that I find myself in I am always in a position to do for others on a private and anonymous basis. No one need know that I have prayed for my victims, their families or those that have been my jailers. Yet in doing so, I am called to live out the life of a Christian man in service to others. It is a small ongoing exchange with this God who loved me enough to die for me to pay the price for my sins. In order to accomplish this goal, I need to take my eyes off of the circumstances of my own life and put my eyes on spiritual things. That is when I am filled with peace and contentment. It is in that moment that I know that my life has purpose beyond the immediate wants and needs of the moment. It is in the quiet moments that I am led to pray for others that I realize the Holy Spirit is moving in my own life and that I am filled with awe and amazement that even in my current state of life, that God would have a purpose for my being.
The only way that I can come to this state of awareness is to move beyond what my eyes and ears tell my mind. To move into a place of spiritual connection with the God of history and the God of today. It is His spirit that moves in my life and gives me the ability to make choices which are God honoring. It has nothing to do with my weak and miserable humanity. I am merely a tool and I want to be a faithful tool in God’s hands. You have the same choice to make. Do you spend your days in resentment, fear and bitterness, or do you turn to that soft loving voice that calls you to a higher purpose even as you await society’s judgment? Don’t you remember what Dismas did while dying on a cross next to Jesus Christ…..he called out…”Lord remember me when You come into Your Kingdom” and in that faith filled moment Jesus made him a personal promise….”This day you will be with Me in paradise.” That same promise is made to each of us, you see God does not have favorites. He will do for each of us what He did for Dismas on the cross.
I write to you each month because I do not want you to be alone and cut off from life. I have found that TRUE life is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ because He took on a human form to live amongst us and to share our burdens. He knows our ways and our weaknesses. He understands our human condition. And He has promised that He will never leave us. We all know what it is like to be alone and rejected by others, He will never leave us alone, nor will He reject our sincere plea for His help. I would not tell you these things, if they were not the very substances of life. Will you be deceived by what you see and hear, or will you trust the spirit that lives inside of you and that will live on throughout eternity? That inner man or woman who lives on a different plane in this life. That plane is the eternal viewpoint that motivates us to see the fullness of our existence beyond the transitory physical life. We are given very specific weapons to use for our protection as we move through this life. It is called the whole amour of God, specific weapons to help us combat the influences of Satan’s temptations. We are not alone, but in fact we are given the choice of living out eternity with the God who created us.
You can never be so bad that God would not hear your humble cry for forgiveness and mercy. It is a personal transaction between you and the God that shaped you and formed you in your mother’s womb. His word says that before you saw a single day, He already knew you and that your name was inscribed on the palm of His hand. He had already seen your whole life before you were born. He knew of all of your sins and failures before your eyes opened and saw the light of day. And yet He chose to make you and sustained you in this life that ultimately you would choose to have a relationship with Him based on His incredible love for you. He knew the pathways that you would choose in life and still created you so that you could make the choice of spending eternity with Him. That is the gift of life. He did not give us this gift with the pre-condition that we must love Him and obey Him, instead He gave us life with the purpose that we would find His love for us in the midst of the failures and sinfulness of our lives. By myself I can do nothing, but with His love and purpose in my life I can accomplish all things. It is not too late to redeem your purpose, even now you can call out softly to the God who gave you life and ask Him to forgive you and to create a new purpose and a new design in the days ahead.
Do not be caught up in the wrong belief that it is your battle against the world. Rather it is a battle between good and evil, and Satan tries to convince each of us that it is our personal struggle. We are made in the image and likeness of God, which means that it is not our own personal struggle. We have not been left here and abandoned by an uncaring Father to struggle through this life alone. But we have been given free-will to make the choice for good or evil. By myself I cannot possibly arise to the place of knowing good from evil, but in relationship with Jesus Christ the way is clearly pointed out before me. And He promises me that I will never be alone. I am not making this journey by myself, though there are times when I feel quiet alone…..like a child who is in his own room, while his mother and father are in another room in the house. When that child calls out, mom or dad will lovingly respond to the child’s cry for help. That is what God does for us.
As a retired clinical psychologist, I have always been fascinated by what lays deep within our minds and hearts. Those aspects of life that we have never shared with others, either out of an unwillingness to be vulnerable to the opinions or criticism of others, or out of an inner feeling of fear about how others would treat us differently if we revealed our deepest thoughts to them. One of the questions that I frequently ask of others centers upon this very private place deep within each of us. I often ask strangers, “Are you loved?” Not many people answer the question in the affirmative. The few that have said yes generally refer to the love of a child for its parent. They have been loved by their children in a special way. They can feel it with their hearts. They know deep within themselves that they have been given something special.
Each of us has been freely given the love of God, to accept or to reject. We all know at a very basic level what love is….and we all have a hunger inside of us that cannot be filled by material things or the things of this life. I believe that inside of each of us is a hallow place that can only be filled with spiritual things. Nothing else that exists in this world can permanently give us the continued feeling being loved outside of this spiritual experience. If you have hungered all your life for a deep and abiding love…..for the kind of love that affirms your very existence, then what you are seeking is the love of God in your life. No other love can fill that emptiness. No other love can fill that ongoing deep need within you or me.
My words are clumsy and inept….they lack the grace and beauty of His great love for each of us. Forgive my limitations. I am a mere man trying to capture the essence of truth so that I might share this gift with you and help to fill your life with His promise of eternal life to those who love Him. I am a poor workman, but my heart wants to share this truth, so that it will pierce through the darkness of your past life and shine brightly before you as you make your way through the days ahead. You are not alone in spirit or truth. There are many who stand with you as you seek out the truth. It is never too late to seek His face.
There is a spiritual battle going on around you and within you. Choose wisely and choose well; your choices have eternal consequences.
A sparrow has the choice of landing on an alley cat’s back, but it is likely making a fatal decision in doing so. A baby lamb can wander into the midst of a pack of wolves, but it is unlikely to survive this decision. An infant can reach out to grasp a venomous snake rattling its deadly warning, but it institutively understands that there is danger in that moment. What forces guide the migratory patterns of animals, birds and fish living among us? Who guides the flow of the seasons and the order that defines existence? What does your own spirit tell you about this? The world would have us believe that these situations are governed by “common sense” which has been developed from eons of developing evolutionary processes. The world tells us that these are accidental adaptions of nature, not the results of divine interventions. The fact is that the world was created by God and His creation was designed to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in all aspects of life. The creation is groaning and staggering under the weight of sin and trespasses. This reality exists because of the sin of our spiritual parents Adam and Eve, who chose to rebel against the law of God. Their free-will choice to abandon God’s word and to choose to act on Satan’s lies led them into rebellion against God’s lawful authority.
God has created us with a sense of divine order to guide our choices. That is the presence of that small voice that speaks protection and blessing into our lives when we are confronted with choices that will harm us and others. Our free will is a gift from God and it makes us uniquely human. We can choose to obey His voice in our lives, or to live out our own personal sinful choices. God never forces us to accept His loving guidance. He allows us to bear the consequences of our sinful choices and to learn from the pain that we suffer. As individuals we can make the choice to follow the voice of the Holy Spirit, who teaches us how to live out the commands of Jesus Christ, or we can choose the folly of our own whims and desires which inevitability lead to disappointment, dissatisfaction and despair. That was the meaning of Jesus word, when He told His disciples that He would send them another Comforter who would never leave them. We have been personally assured of God’s presence in our lives, if we make the choice to follow Jesus Christ.
I do not have to struggle with aspects of my life, if I am truly willing to seek out His will for me. He will guide me through the divine order that has already been implanted in my soul. No matter how I have messed up or how broken I am, He stands ready to take me where I am and make a new life within me. The key to this spiritual interaction with God lays in my willingness to recognize that I have come to the end of my own abilities and the understanding that even now God can make something beautiful of the sinful choices that I have previously made. All it takes is an act of surrender to Him and a willingness to be healed. He can take the worst things that we have ever done and raise up a blessing to His own name if we are willing to trust in His word. Do you need to travel any further on the road of self-will or can you pull over and get a clear sense of the direction you have been moving? In the quiet of this moment all you need to do is ask Him to forgive you and to create a new life in you that brings Him glory and honor. After all, it is not about us, it is ultimately about the God who created us with a special inner knowledge of Him and His love for us.
There are no limits on God’s goodness……find out for yourself.
A Prisoner’s Plea
Dear Lord, my ways are known to you…all of them. My choices are laid clearly before You. Help me to find a promise in Your word that is spoken into my life. Help me to find this promise in Your word and let it be a guiding light as I live out the remaining days of my life. I trust You and I commit myself to Your care. Help me in this spiritual battle to surrender to Your will for my life. I believe that even now, You can make something beautiful out of what I have created. Please forgive me and have mercy upon me, cleanse me from my sin and restore the lost innocence of my childhood.