Seeing as it is my birthday, it seems fitting to reflect on the journey thus far in the time I have been gifted here on earth.
It was thirty five years ago that a premature baby came into the world. Earlier than expected, but at the right time. Three-and-a-half months early to be exact. I weighed only 2 lbs 4 oz and was given a 10% chance to live. I was diagnosed as being deaf and had 5 of the 6 symptoms of Cerebral Palsy and was thus diagnosed by the brightest doctors at Ohio State Medical Center as having CP.
But God had different plans.
A few miracles later, on top of countless hours of prayer, parental life adjustments, sibling sacrifices and time, I could hear, fully function and was growing strong.
My Christian upbringing meant that anything ‘less than Christian’ needed to be hidden. And I was good at hiding. Lying was easier than breathing and pleasure was more important than peace. My mind was a never ending corridor of curiousity – and I was sure that thoughts would remain thoughts and never materialize into actions… right?
Sparing all the details, the reality was that I lived two very different lives. One was an attempt to make people believe I was the next Billy Graham, the other was a selfish exploit expressed in secrecy, sexual curiosity, perversion, criminal behavior, and addiction. College didn’t change it, marriage didn’t stop it, church leadership didn’t expose it, and there was no way I was letting God in on it.
But God had different plans.
After three years of ‘marriage’ (I often say ‘we were married, but not experiencing marriage’… much like many are ‘free’ but not experiencing ‘freedom’), unbeknownst to me, the prayers of my wife were about to be tested. It is one thing to ask God for something you want… it is another thing to then trust His process of materializing what He wants! With no desire to change the life I was living, I reluctantly agreed (literally cursing and kicking my way through it) to commit to a process through a respected Bible-based program with a history of helping broken people and marriages through a season of repentance and restoration.
Man, did I ever hate that.
Looking back, I often describe the love of God in that season as a hand that held my head under water until I drowned. I was kicking and fighting the whole time, but His love wouldn’t let me go. When I finally died to my self, I had no choice but to drink in the water… the ‘pure water of the Word of God’. That then changed my mind and heart with Truth. The Bible calls it ‘being transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ In fact, I did not even realize it was happening at the time… nor did I understand it all. But something was different.
Things that had bound me for 20 years no longer found a familiar place to hide in my heart.
It took 6 months for me to stop kicking and let His love drown me. Another year of learning how to walk as a free man – not merely one seeking ‘victory.’ Over the next few years, trust was restored between my wife and I in our marriage. We then spent a few years learning about the calling on our marriage to share the Good News of New Life for those in addiction, darkness, hopelessness, and trapped in mans-solutions. We learned how to listen to each other, hear from the Lord, let things be redeemed to new (not ‘like new’…. actually new!).
Over the last two years, we have had the joy and privilege of walking alongside men, women, husbands, and wives who are thirsty for the new life and new mind that God has for all of us! Everyone’s process of drowning and dying looks different. Some resist the call to die more than others. Some struggle as they compare their journey with someone else’s, rather than ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.’ But Whitney and I would encourage you to never settle for mere seasons of victory in your life when God’s destiny for you is FREEDOM.
It is impossible to break yourself free, but ‘if The Son sets you free, you are free indeed’… you can be broken free! Wives, your husband’s lies and selfishness does not have to define you or your marriage. Husbands, what you think is normal and ‘every man’s battle’ is in fact the opposite of what God has called you to.
Paul tells us in Galations (5:1) that ‘It was for freedom that Christ set us free.’
Today, I am celebrating life. Not the mere result of surviving birth. But the result of embracing death that Christ may live in me.