When I was in my mid twenties, lack of purpose was what compelled me to look to God for answers. As I look back on those undirected years and even a good number of years after I originally came to begin to learn about God, purpose or the reasoning behind what I was doing and where it was taking me, began to take form. Of course, believing in God and really pursuing and trusting in God are not one and the same thing.
I don’t know why but I think I have always believed in God. I just did. My adopted family definitely wasn’t religious at all although I can remember attending Church a couple of times when I was in my childhood years. But we never talked about it and attending Church was not something that we did on a regular basis.
When I joined the Canadian Armed Forces at the ripe old of age of 17, I obviously knew very little and exploring options that presented themselves to me became my prime occupation. In my mid twenties, when I was still single, the results of exploring those options began to take their toll and it didn’t take any great amount of intelligence to see where continuing along those lines would eventually lead me.
Through God’s grace I became associated with a Christian Youth Group on the military base I was on and my immediate need to stop drinking and get some control back into my life came to the forefront and I was exposed to some really honest and loving people who still to this very day, remain dear in my heart. That is where I became a Christian and God did graciously deliver me from drinking. But when I got posted from that particular military base to another base, I left those friends behind and once again slide back into my old routine of actively pursuing the various options that were laid before me.
It was only after I got married that I began to see that you can’t have it both ways (believe in God but still follow your own course of choices without considering the consequences of ignoring God’s direction) and that a lot of the habits that I had picked up along the way were not producing good results. Bad habits and my own basic selfishness were definitely counter productive and I came face to face with the reality that my most dangerous and pressing problem was me. By this time we had a couple of children and of course I loved them and I loved my wife but my selfish nature brought me face to face with the fact that you can love someone and still hurt them. I’m not talking about physically hurting them but my actions and words definitely hurt them.
I began to actively and sincerely try to draw closer to God during these times and once again, God graciously did respond in some beautiful and life lesson learning ways. But old habits die hard and the selfishness within me continued to cause scars which are slow to be forgotten and even harder to overcome.
It’s difficult to come to the realization that the course of action that we set out to achieve, which we hope will be beneficial in the long run for those that we love, needs critical balance and much attention to detail. More children came along and the need for money to take proper care of them became a mounting obstacle which required increased performance and responsibilities at work so that I could get promoted (more pay) and secondary jobs to assist with the monetary needs in the interim. Short story is that it is not easy raising a family and far too often we ignore the needs of those that we love while endeavouring to meet the pressing monetary requirements. That’s where the deep rooted selfishness really comes home to roost because you think you are doing everything that you can but in reality you are ignoring one need to address the other. And that which you ignore or neglect, can leave scars, scars which are darn slow to heal.
Drawing closer to God during these difficult times continued but it was touch and go at times, actually touch and go far too many times. There are many precious memories of people and instances along the way where God again graciously showed Himself to us in many loving ways and repeatedly was there for us when our backs were to the wall but far too often they seem, in reflection, to be offset by instances of my lack of consideration for my wife or the needs of my children. Short story is I could have done a lot better.
I think my biggest mistake was trying to do all that was required by myself, using my own logic, relying on my own limited capabilities. When those capabilities are flawed, the results are seldom as we expect them to be. Rather than drawing closer to God in the times of my truly greatest needs, I too often went in the opposite direction. Not always, but I’d rather not give you the ratio. When I do recall crying out to God, I am amazed in hindsight, to see how often He opened doors for us that I didn’t even know were there. And I believe, it is when our own deepest personal needs are not being met, be it the husband or the wife, that the decision that we make, be it towards God to address or our own response to react to the hurt that we feel, it is only the latter that will cause the damage. Once again, I could have done a lot better by trusting and relying on God more instead of following my own reactions.
My wife is retired now and I am semi-retired. There aren’t near as many alligators biting on our rowboat now and the surface of the lake is much calmer. Now we can reflect and now we have time to do as we ought to have done, earlier in our lives. I see now where I made mistakes, I see now the folly of my logic, that sounded reasonable at the time.
I took what was happening around me far too seriously and didn’t take God nearly seriously enough.
And there are those scars, scars that need healing, scars that I wish could be truly forgotten, but memories die hard. There is a Bible verse that I hold onto for dear life. It is from 1 Peter 4:8 NIV and reads as follows: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
I love my wife and I love all of our five children. And most importantly, I love my dear God and Saviour that I have come to know along the way. My hope is that they all know that I was and am imperfect but I love them and in the end, that love in my heart for them, that comes from God, will prevail.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!