Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: anger

Test

I love reading and hearing stories of people who’ve been through extraordinary experiences. Two of my ‘go to’ books when I’m feeling low are Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place and Joni by Joni Eareckson Tada.

Corrie’s account of hiding Jews during WWII and consequently surviving Ravensbruck puts strength and heart in me, and reminds me of how to look at my own circumstances through an eternal lens. Joni’s story of learning how to live life abundantly again after a diving accident left her paralysed from the neck down also encourages me in the midst of difficulties.

Life for me over the past sixteen months has been testing and trying me to my limit (and beyond, it feels like sometimes). Struggling to come to terms with past events and mental illness, I am often overwhelmed, grieving and angry. Anger and grief beyond anything I’ve ever before experienced.

I have been reminded in the last few days that suffering is an expected part of life. We live in an imperfect world where people are selfish and do evil things. Suffering is the consequence. I don’t want my suffering to be for nothing. I am desperate for it to mean something, for there to be a purpose to it. To suffer for nothing leads me to despair.

Through testimonies like Corrie’s and Joni’s, I am reminded that with God suffering isn’t for nothing. My Father in heaven can somehow turn my past and present suffering to something good and beautiful. I am yet to see the fruit of this, but I am choosing to believe it will happen. This is God’s way: first comes suffering, then glory. Even Jesus had to suffer before the glory and reward.

Smith Wigglesworth puts it like this:

Great faith is the product of great fights.
Great testimonies are the outcome of great tests.
Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.

 

God’s Nice and He Likes Me

Last year I felt like a building that was being taken apart for renovation. Everything I thought I believed was challenged; it was as though God was stripping me right back to basics. As I said in my previous post, I had no real idea of who I was, or what God thought of me. Was I even a Christian?

God’s way of dealing with that was to remind me of the time when Moses asked God to show him His glory. God agreed, and He walked in front of Moses, saying:

The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
but who will by no means clear the guilty…

God wanted me to understand something important. He started with that small phrase: slow to anger.

For two weeks, the Holy Spirit kept repeating those words to me: God is slow to anger. SLOW to anger. SLOW to ANGER. SLOW TO ANGER. Then one day I realised: God isn’t angry with me.

As soon as I had got the hang of that, the Holy Spirit moved on to the phrase: abounding in steadfast love.

I struggled to accept that God loved me. I felt so worthless and unlovable that it was almost repulsive to even hint that He might love me. But He persistently repeated those words to me: ABOUNDING in STEADFAST LOVE.

Coming from a background of believing that although I was saved, I still had to earn God’s favour with an endless list of dos and don’ts, it was a monumental task to turn my thinking and accept that God loved me just because He wanted to. Nothing I could do would ever make Him love me more. Nothing I neglected to do would ever make Him love me less. As Adrian Plass is fond of saying: God is nice, and He likes me.

It was hard to take in and accept that God the Father sent Jesus to die for me because He delights in me and chose to adopt me long before creation.

ButterflyFor weeks, the truth that God loved me unconditionally – or to put it another way, He is nice and He likes me – was uncomfortable. It seemed to flitter near me, occasionally alighting for a few seconds before taking off again, rather like a butterfly briefly landing on a flower before fluttering away.

At the same time as God was using those phrases to rebuild the foundation of my life, I was devouring other passages from the New Testament. For years, I had arrogantly glossed over chapters like Romans 8, believing they had nothing to teach me. But now, my eyes were being opened and I was desperate to comprehend their powerful meaning.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received  the Spirit of adoption as sons,
by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

The verses told me that I am a child of God. That He has adopted me. That is why I can call Him Dad (Abba). But they were just words. Although I have been a Christian since the age of ten, I had never really accepted that God is my Father and those words weren’t real for me.

In sheer desperation, I cried out: ‘Holy Spirit, it says here that You tell my spirit that I am a child of God. Please do that!’

And He did. The Holy Spirit is a wonderful Teacher. The best in fact. Ever since that desperate day last summer, He has been telling me daily that I am a child of God. Jesus’ Dad has adopted me! Jesus made it possible for His Dad to adopt me when He died so that I could be forgiven for rebelling against God and choosing to please myself instead of pleasing Him. Jesus is my Hero!

Knowing who I am – a child of God who is secure in Christ and that God has completely accepted me – has revolutionised my life. I no longer have to strive and put on a front with people. I can be myself, knowing that it doesn’t matter what they think. That is not to say that I don’t have my wobbles, but to know that I am accepted by God and that He truly loves me is more precious than anything else.

I think that calls for a bit of WOOOO HOOOO HOOOOO!!

Image used courtesy of tharkul at freedigitalphotos.net.

© 2019 Mandy Baker Johnson

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑