I’ll be 72 years old in three days. Funny, because when I was young, I doubted that I would make it to be 40. I was wrong. Actually I’ve been wrong about a lot of things as I reflect on how I went through the years that have been given to me.
I was adopted when only a few months old and my adopted parents did the best that they could. I was born in 1945 and the II World War had just ended. People were just recovering from a lack of all kinds of things and money was tight. I didn’t really notice that we were poor because most of my friends where in the same situation that I was. New clothing was a rarity, second hand the norm. I learned to earn my own money at an early age by having a paper route, working at a drug store as a delivery boy, setting up pins at a bowling alley etc. There weren’t many vices back then, hardly anyone got pregnant in high school, drugs were virtually unknown, at least in my circles and if you wanted to be looked at as a bit on the wild side, you might have a beer or two on the weekend. It was a nice time period to grow up in.
In my late teens I joined the Navy in Canada and got to see a number of different countries around the world. I did what most young men do at that age, dated a lot of girls and used alcohol to diminish my insecurities. That didn’t work out very well. I developed a dependency for alcohol and came to the realization that I couldn’t keep going in the direction that I was going. Coming to a realization and doing something about it are not one and the same thing.
After being in the Canadian Navy for three years I got out and joined the Canadian Air Force. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I was posted to Ottawa, Ontario, our nation’s capitol and continued on with drinking and womanizing. Evidently I’m a slow learner. Drinking took a stronger hold on me and in my early twenties I began to have problems sleeping at night unless I had downed a good amount of liquor.
I was floundering with no direction, no goals. my life had no rudder. It wasn’t because I wasn’t smart, I always got very high marks on any courses that I took, always succeeded at anything that I took on. As I look back, I was like most of the guys that I worked with, kind of drifting in the stream of life, thinking about things that I should probably do but never coming to the point where I deliberately got out of the stream I was in and branching off into a specific objective. I had met and dated one special girl for a couple of years but she lived in the Maritimes and here I was in Ottawa. Long distance relationships don’t generally work well either.
Looking to God had never really been an option that I took seriously. I guess the reason for that was that I thought that I could manage on my own. I was relatively intelligent, I could figure it out on my own. Lots of other people apparently didn’t need God. I got that one wrong also. For some people it is only when your back is against the wall that you look out in desperation for help. And even then, pride can stop you from asking.
I learned a scary reality about myself one summer. I was swimming at a lake and a good way out there was a rock, just a foot or two under the water. There was a plastic bleach bottle tied to the rock by a rope as a marker. I decided to swim out to the rock but when I got there, the rope had slipped off the rock and I couldn’t find the rock. I knew I didn’t have enough strength to make it back. If I yelled as loud as I could, they might hear me on the shore but guess what, pride would not let me do it. I didn’t want to yell for help because I didn’t want anyone to know that I needed help. A thought came into my mind to dive and see if I could see the rock. I dived and did see it, got to it and rested, then swam back to shore. But the fact that I would not yell for help really stuck in my mind. Pride is a terrible thing and it could have cost me my life. I believe that was God trying to break through to me then. It didn’t work.
I think when we are young, our pride is directly connected to how others perceive us, and it is a major stumbling block to being real with or learning about ourselves. Inside I knew that things were not going well but so many others where in the same boat that I was in. I thought that as time progressed it would all work out. Unfortunately, for those who are relatively self reliant, it doesn’t work that way, at least not for very long. Generally, as we get older, life gets more complicated, not easier.
I’ve already gone over how I came to Christ in another post (Dare to Ask) so suffice to say that through sheer grace, I came to kneel at the feet of Jesus and asked Him to into my life.
And I got married. If you ever want to learn about yourself, getting married is where the classroom courses begin. So many lessons to learn and the vast majority of them have to do with coming to the realization of our own shortcomings. Loving someone does not stop us from acting out what dwells within. That is a hard lesson to learn but once again a lot of it has to do with pride. Thinking you are the master of your own home, the one who plots the course, the one who makes the decisions. Guess what …. that doesn’t work out very well either.
What dwells within me almost cost me losing the one person I put above any other person. That’s a fact. Did I hurt her by words that came out of my mouth. Yes I did. Did I display anger and rage, yes I did that too. Did I put my own desires above hers and fail on numerous occasions to consider her feelings? Yes. Loving someone isn’t enough because our love for self supersedes our love for others, even that “special” love we have for the one we want to marry. That cannot change unless God is invited into our lives and He is put in control and left there, period. It’s not easy, it doesn’t happen all at once, and I believe that once we put God on the throne of our life, our human nature continually tries to take back the throne. That’s the constant fight between the flesh and the Spirit.
Is there hope? Yes there is! My marriage is ten times better now that what it was in the beginning. I love my wife more now than I have ever loved her AND I love my God more than I did years ago. The key is who is on the throne. Colour me a slow learner.
Sometimes we have to come to the feet of Jesus multiple times. We have to acknowledge that we have said we give our life to Him but then we have picked it up and kind of taken it back. That doesn’t work either.
When God says that there is no one that is righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10), He isn’t kidding. That is you and me. That is the core of our being. That is how we are without His Spirit in us and with Him not at the helm. That particular course in what I call the “Big Classroom” is not optional. Until you learn this lesson and pass this course, there is no growth. Just so you know, if you are single, the “Throne Course” still applies.
So there is the battle within. Watch out for pride, understand it for what it is, the “I”, the flesh, the way we are without God on the throne of our life. And no, I would never want to go back. Never.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!