Revolution & Resolution

This post is a slight reworking of a short talk, or 'testimony', I gave in our church on the evening of April 24th, 2016. It is also a follow-up to two previous blog posts - My Rocky Road and God is Love.

Briefly, those two earlier posts were about me learning, in my heart as well as my head, how deeply God and His family, the church, love and care for me. That probably sounds nuts, coming from someone who's been a Christian for thirty-six years - you'd think that I jolly well ought to know by now! We could say that I'm a little slow on the uptake at times, but perhaps instead it is because the road has been long and bumpy...

Basically, what I want to talk about now is the culmination of my long and, at times, painful journey to wholeness. Having learned, in the first couple of months of 2016, how deeply I am loved has given me a sense of security which I've never experienced before.It's completely amazing; I didn't know it was possible to feel like this, and it's taken quite a bit of getting used to.1 John 4:18 says:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.

Once I was absolutely certain I was loved and was totally secure, God faced me with a hard challenge... For those of you, my readers, who don't know me well, let's say that my childhood and youth were 'difficult', and leave it at that. Although I'm not going to describe why or how, please just take it from me that I was traumatised by things that happened to me back then. I long ago 'buried' the memories, and the wounds, and the pain, deep, deep, down; at the time it was probably the only thing I could do to survive - but they still affected much of what I was, and did, and said. And, until about a month ago, I thought I'd carry the wounds and their pain with me to the grave.

But, having shown me how loved I am, and made sure I was absolutely secure in that, God, by His Holy Spirit, went on to show me that those wounds needed to be healed now, rather than some vague, unspecified, later. That was scary and I really didn't want to face it. But the Holy Spirit wouldn't 'leave me alone’ - things kept happening to bring it back to mind, until I couldn’t ignore it any longer, so one day I plucked up my courage and began to 'dig' down into the depths of my memory and to write down what I found. Literally thousands of words came pouring out - mostly things which I'd never told anyone about, not even my wife Linda. It was really painful, but I came through the experience virtually undamaged because of the security of knowing I was loved by God and by my adopted family, our church - none of the bad stuff seemed to matter much in the face of the 'bombardment' of love I'd been experiencing.

Once I'd finished writing I felt a lot better - just because I'd written it down so I could see it as well as feel it. It was a bit like having a stone in your shoe... It's really painful, and you limp along, imagining that the stone is at least the size of a pea. So you stop, take off your shoe and tip out the stone, only to find that it's about the size of a mustard seed! And you wonder what the heck all the fuss was about. The bad memories, once they'd been 'tipped out', felt a bit like that - pretty trivial, compared to how they had felt when they were stuck in my mind.

But I felt the need to tell someone else and to seek prayer ministry, so I shared what I'd written with a close friend, then with Linda, and then with Chris and Anne, my prayer partners, who ministered to me in prayer on Easter Sunday night, sat beneath the cross in the chancel of our church. The pain faded over the following days and I came to realise that the Holy Spirit had touched, and healed, my innermost being.

Imagine, if you can, being in a place where some tragic, traumatic, event is taking place - it's really upsetting and pretty frightening. Now imagine seeing the same thing on TV instead - it's still not nice, but it's not so immediate, and nothing like so awful as being there in person would be. The memories are like that now - it's as if I'm seeing them on TV, rather than being there in person... They don't have the emotional 'power' over me that they had before - it's almost as if they'd happened to someone else - and in a sense, I suppose, they did... As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.

So, now I am happier, on an ordinary 'day-to-day' level, than I can ever remember being before. I am incredibly blessed by God. Life is good. At last, I feel whole - probably for the first time since I went to school aged nearly five. I'm still experiencing a sort of sense of 'culture shock'; I'm slightly bewildered. It's like being in a country I've never been to before. The feeling is almost too lovely to describe.

There is an obvious question, which I expect you've already thought of: Why has it taken so long? The answer, I think, is because it was all very deep-rooted - by the time I became a Christian the wounds and the pain had become part of what made me, me - to have 'grubbed it out' earlier might well have done even more damage. My experiences, early in life, had conditioned me to trust absolutely no-one with my inner life, and my 'self' - on pain of, well, pain - the mere idea of anyone else really knowing 'me' was way beyond terrifying.

But couldn't God have 'just got on with it' and 'made me ready’ thirty-odd years ago? Daft as it may sound, in a strange way I think the Holy Spirit knew that rather than just 'barging in', He had to earn my trust. It's taken all those years years, and a lot of patient loving, for me to arrive at a point where I was ready for anyone, even God, to 'touch' that wounded bit deep inside of me (even though, in my head, I knew that He knew all about it anyway, what with Him being omniscient and omnipresent and all). The process has, I suppose, been a bit like peeling an onion - removing layer after layer, before finally getting down to the place where I had hidden 'me' and my pain. God is loving, and hates to see us in pain... But He is also wise, gentle, and infinitely patient.

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart[my emphasis], and you will find rest for your souls.

I got here when when I was ready; God's timing is perfect. And the result is all thanks to God and to my friends and family in our church, who have loved, supported, and ministered to me in so many ways over so many years.

In closing, I'd just like to say that, if what I've written has touched on anything you've hidden deep within you, don't be impatient; be kind to yourself. Because God understands. God is faithful and will show you when the time is right for healing. Deuteronomy 31:6 says:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

And I would testify to that truth... He has never left me nor forsaken me, however deep the valleys I have traversed. I am only an email or Facebook message away. Don't hesitate to contact me, using the contact form below, or via Facebook message, if you'd like me to pray for you or if you want to ask or tell me anything. I will treat anything you say with the strictest confidence.

I'd like to finish with a quote from Psalm 30:11-12:

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2016