Friday, March 14, 2014

The truth will set you free

Most of us will have heard this scripture - "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32). It's easy to think of this truth in just a positive context - e.g. "I know the truth that God loves me and this truth frees me." That's all very well and good. But what about the truth when it comes to negative, painful things in our lives?

My life has been a lifelong battle with constant, almost overwhelming emotional pain. When I became a Christian the pain did not instantly vanish (although there are times when I really wish that it had). I began to find that negative, bitter situations in my life began to arise a lot more frequently than they did in my pre-Christian days. Being a Christian did not make life easier. In fact it made life worse. I didn't understand it. I spent the first year of my Christian walk trying to proclaim positivity and blessing over my life through constant confession of scripture. Funnily enough, it didn't work. I claimed scriptures about healing for my constantly pained emotional and spiritual state. That didn't work either.

Over time and through many hard experiences, my thinking began to change. The scripture came to mind - "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff comfort me." The part that really stood out to me was the part about walking THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death. It didn't say walk around it, or skip over it and pretend it's not there. God used this scripture to help me realize that I was to walk through the constant, overwhelming pain in my life, but that I need not fear any evil in this process because God's rod and staff would comfort and guide me in this place of overwhelming internal darkness.

What I began to realize is that the valley of the shadow of death was also a place of truth in itself. Truth that contained the power to truly set me free - the freedom I had longed for since I was a child. These truths would not be easily discovered. Nor would it be a pleasant process in trying to find them. But discovering the painful truths hidden in the valley of the shadow of death in my own heart was a process I simply had to go through if I ever truly wanted to get well.

One of the ways in which my thinking began to change was learning that I had to learn to fall into the negative feelings that I faced when certain situations arose, rather than trying to simply push them away by trying to quote scripture over my life or embrace "the power of positive thinking." Some of those negative feelings drove me into behaviours that were not good or healthy. For example - I have struggled with cigarette smoking on and off throughout the years. Due to some distressing personal circumstances I started smoking again last year. I kept on trying to stop using my own willpower but it simply didn't work. I would simply start again. One day I foolishly didn't eat anything at all throughout the day - I just smoked constantly. I tried eating dinner in the evening and due to a day without food my stomach rejected my dinner and I vomited everything back up. I went to bed early and managed to get a couple of hours sleep before waking up at midnight. I couldn't get back to sleep - not only was I still feeling quite unwell due to not eating and vomiting the little I managed to get down in the evening, there was a constant sense of distress in my emotions and I just couldn't rest.

I began to realize that this was happening for a reason. God was stirring something in me that He wanted me to address. I couldn't quite put my finger on it using my own thinking so I prayed for guidance that God would make it clear to me what I needed to see in myself. Almost instantaneously I blurted out "I HATE MY BODY!!" The second I did that - the emotional distress vanished, along with the desire to smoke cigarettes. Not only did I fall asleep immediately but I haven't had a cigarette since.

God was calling me to walk into the valley of the shadow of death with this issue. I tried to avoid this walk by stopping smoking using my own strength - but it wasn't enough. God needed me to do nothing but smoke that day so I would get sick and into this terrible place of distress so that I would be able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and uncover the truth that was keeping me bound in addiction in the first place. When I said that I hated my body I confessed to God the truth that had been lurking down in my thinking which I didn't even realize was there. It was a negative truth, yes - but as I confessed it and brought it to the light, the negative thinking lost its power over me and I have been walking in freedom from smoking ever since. 

So if you are finding that you are facing the same issues over and over again in your life and can't figure out why, listen to your heart. Is God tugging at your heart strings and asking you to walk with Him in the valley of the shadow of death through your own life because He wants to bring you to the root cause of these issues in your own heart? This might be why you're facing the same thing over and over again. God is allowing it to surface again and again because He wants to guide you through the pain in your heart so that you can find the truths in the valley of the shadow of death that will finally set you free.

My book speaks all about my journey of walking through this valley - hence the title No Way Out But Through. It's available from just about any bookstore (although you may have to ask them to order it in) or you can buy a copy online as it's available through most online retailers. If you need further advice, encouragement or prayer - please let me know.

Take care and God bless.

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