Waiting For Redemption

 

Waiting for Redemption

I’m not particularly looking forward to sharing what I’m about to share with you. In fact, I’ve been fighting it for some time, which, as you may have noticed, is why I haven’t written anything in a couple of months. But the Holy Spirit keeps pressing so, reluctantly (yeah, I don’t always obey cheerfully, shocker!) I am sharing an extremely difficult journey in hopes that someone else out there will make better choices as a result of reading this, and perhaps, save themselves and their loved ones unnecessary pain, heartache, and grief.

 

 
About four years ago my life was completely different than it is today. I was abusing prescription pain killers; I was also taking other mind-altering prescriptions that left me, as my husband later shared, in a state of what he considered the “crazies”. I was emotionally all over the place but mostly in a deep dark depression that left me suicidal on many occasions.

 

 
At the same time, I was struggling with my faith. I had only “come back” to God two years earlier, and was fumbling through the logistics of how to cope with being in an “unequally yoked” marriage. I harbored a great deal of bitterness and resentment towards my husband as well. But, rather than communicate with him about my struggles, I chose to talk about my problems in somewhat of a venting manner, within the confines of a twelve step program (even in the twelve step program, I continued to abuse the drugs). I had no idea how to cope with the things in my life, not just the present situation but my past choices.

 

 
I vented to anyone and everyone except my husband and received varying degrees of advice. I had some Christians advise me to divorce and start over; after all, God would want me to be happy (that’s a load of crap, by the way). I had a lot of voices whispering in my ear, but the one voice I wasn’t hearing or even looking for was God’s. I didn’t pray about it, I talked to people about it. In turn, I followed human reasoning.

 

 
So, one day I made my decision. I told my husband what I was doing, and that it was my body, I didn’t give a damn about his opinion (what a great Christian influence I was!). I refused to pray about this decision because I knew God’s answer wouldn’t be the same as what the people in my life were giving me. I liked their advice, it suited my purposes better. So, in somewhat of a selfish fit of anger, I stormed off and willingly made my choice.

 

 
This decision was made based on emotions and current circumstances, without any regard for the fact that God is all-powerful, and maybe, just maybe, He could and would change the circumstances, my husband’s heart, or my own heart (which was in desperate need of an overhaul!). I didn’t take any of that into consideration though, and by making the decision I did, I deeply wounded my husband in a way that very well could have ended our marriage.

 

 
Over the next two years I got sober, and discovered what a real relationship with Christ is like (as opposed to the legalistic way I was accustomed to). My heart was changing, and in that change, God gave me a glimpse of what I had done through His eyes. I’ll never forget that moment driving home from church in tears. I felt like Jesus was in the passenger seat with me, it was a presence I had never felt so clearly before. I looked in the rearview mirror and there it was, in an instant, my decision laid before me in all its awfulness. I saw my husband’s hurt for the first time. I have no words to describe it other than sheer mortification over what I had done.

 

 
Over the next year my husband and I talked about what happened for the first time, trying to work through it. Then last year the unexplained medical problems kept coming in waves. We went through thousands in medical bills only to never get a straight answer or diagnosis. During that time, my husband made a decision of his own. He started coming to church and told me he “prayed and something happened”. He had a change of heart and it was more than just a prayer. His whole attitude and demeanor changed. We began communicating with each other in absolute honesty for the first time. Ten years of anger and resentment over all the unspoken “issues” was laid out. Several weeks went by where my husband and I cried with each other and dealt with these things one by one until healing could take place in each area.

 

 
What’s happened in our marriage, in my heart, and now my husband’s heart, is nothing short of a miracle. Many have prayed for him and I over the years, and now these prayers are being answered. To hear my husband say, “I want to be the spiritual leader of this family” is, well, it’s a dream come true! Four years ago, I wouldn’t (and didn’t) believe I would see him change or hear those words spoken in sincerity. I could only see what my immediate surroundings were dishing out, and what my emotions were screaming at me. It’s a dangerous thing to make life-altering decisions in times like those.

 

 
A couple of months ago I finally received an answer to the medical problems that had caused me and my family so much heartache and stress over the past year. It could all be traced back to that choice I made four years ago. Yes, it was all because of that choice, the choice I made.

 

 
And friends, I can’t tell you how that feels in words. I can’t articulate the pain, guilt, and shame from realizing you’ve caused your own pain in such a way. And not just for me, but for my family. The stress and financial burden, the doctors, the prayer requests, and it all came back to that one choice. Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the words, “This is all your fault” hasn’t swept through my head a few million times over the past eight weeks.

 

 
So, where does that leave me now? I guess I am in a place of waiting. A place of mourning, a place of grief as I realize my child and husband have been irreparably damaged by a stupid choice I made four years ago. That our family is forever changed by it. That my day to day life is changed as I continue to suffer the physical symptoms that will not just magically go away.

 

 
During this time of grief and sorrow, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ve read how God redeems things, and I’ve tried to take hope in that. But honestly, hope wanes most days because in my humanness I can’t fathom how God could redeem this situation nor do I expect Him to. The sad fact is, some of our choices won’t get “redeemed”. Just because we repent does not mean everything is magically fixed with a God sized band-aide.

 

 
So, I’m here to ask you, to plead with you, please please don’t make choices, big or small, in the heat of emotion or in the depths of desperate circumstances. You may think things (or people’s hearts) will never change, but they can.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but just in the last several months I’ve talked to several women who are making terrible choices based on current circumstances. Oh, I can’t tell you how it breaks my heart. One day I know they will grieve those same choices and gnash their teeth in frustration over playing god in their life, instead of stepping aside and trusting and fully surrendering to His perfect plan.

 

 
So, there’s been a lot of crying and wondering if, when, or how God will fix this, understanding He owes me nothing but taking comfort in the fact that He knows my heart. And despite this I am so thankful for the radical change that has come over my marriage. Wow, it’s more than I can comprehend. God is healing our hurts little by little and drawing us closer together every day.
I know I haven’t been specific about what I “did”, but at this point it’s just too painful to talk about. I only share this because I know some of you are feeling overwhelmed by your circumstances, wondering when God will show up and just “fix” stuff or make life easier for a second. While you’re in that time of waiting and wondering, tune out the noise of the people around you and tune in to the Holy Spirit. As hard is it may seem to do what He’s asking, He knows the future, and whatever He leads you in will be for your greatest good. The heartache and grief of choosing to walk in your own way or listen to the advice of people who are content to tell you only what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear will never be worth it.

 

 
As I continue to grieve this loss, I am holding on, if only by the tips of my fingers, that hope is out there somewhere, and God will someday turn this pile of ashes into something meaningful, even if it seems impossible as to how that would come about.

 

 
This post isn’t filled with Scriptures or Christianese, just a simple message from my heart to yours. Choices matter, in our lives and the lives of those we love most. Our choices will affect others. Seek God’s counsel above all else, trust Him, and for crying out loud, listen to Him! Don’t turn back, friends, don’t even look back. Press on, follow Him, and don’t force your will upon His. He’s God, He actually knows what He’s doing. He wants what’s best for you. What I am experiencing now is something God wanted to protect me from. The pain my husband is experiencing is something God wanted to protect him from. The questions and confusion and hurt this has caused my little daughter, is something God wanted to protect her from. . He knew the second I made that choice the ramifications, even though years would pass in the interim. How I wish I had trusted Him!

 

 
And if you’re currently where I’m at, grieving the losses of your choices and watching those around you hurt because of what you’ve done, take heart, Hope is there, it’s just hard to see through the fog of shame and remorse. Eventually the fog lifts. No matter what, don’t give up on your faith making a bad situation even worse. The best thing you can do for your family now is to surrender to Christ 100%, learn from this, and trust Him to bring something good out of it, as He promises to all who love Him and surrender to Him (Romans 8:28).

 

 
Plugging this story into my website is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, it’s embarrassing to some degree, and painful to open up to others in such a deep and personal way, but I am learning, albeit slowly, to trust God in all things, even in something as mundane as a blog post. So, with that being said, I would love to hear your stories of redemption and hope, if nothing more than to encourage me in my sorrow (yes, it’s true, I don’t always have it all together!). Please share your experiences in the comments or email me @ RebeccaAarup@mail.com

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Living Free Life Group–Quotes (From April 14, 2013)

Remember:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; Jesus has come so that I may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Highlighters:

“Every temptation is an enticement to live independently of God.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 136

“Most of us won’t often be tempted to commit obvious sins such as armed robbery, murder, or rape. Satan is too clever and subtle for that. He knows that we will recognize the flagrant wrong in such temptations and refuse to act on them. Instead, his tactic is to entice us to push something good beyond the boundary of the will of God until it becomes sin. He treats us like the proverbial frog in the pot of water: gradually turning up the heat of temptation, hoping we don’t notice that we are approaching the boundary of God’s will and jump out before something good becomes sin.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 137

“The following statements reveal the sinful results in a number of areas where we are tempted to take the good things that God created beyond the boundary of God’s will.

•Physical rest becomes laziness

•Quietness becomes noncommunication

•Ability to profit becomes avarice or greed

•Enjoyment of life becomes sensuality

•Interest in the possession of others becomes covetousness

•Enjoyment of food becomes gluttony

•Self-care becomes selfishness

•Self-respect becomes conceit

•Communication becomes gossip

•Cautiousness becomes unbelief

•Positiveness becomes insensitivity

•Anger becomes rage and bad temper

•Loving-kindness becomes overprotection

•Judgment becomes criticism

•Same-sex friendship becomes homosexuality

•Conscientiousness becomes perfectionism

•Generosity becomes wastefulness

•Self-protection becomes dishonesty

•Carefulness becomes fear”

–The Bondage Breaker, pp. 137-138

“[Satan] learned about Jesus’ apparent vulnerability to physical temptation by watching Him go without food for 40 days. He’s watching you too, looking for soft spots of vulnerability in your physical appetites for food, rest, comfort, and sex. Temptation is greatest when hunger, fatigue, and loneliness are acute.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 141

“God is under no obligation to us; He is under obligation only to Himself. There is no way you can cleverly word a prayer so that God must respond to it. That not only distorts the meaning of prayer but puts us in the position of manipulating God. The righteous shall live by faith in the written word of God and not demand that God prove Himself in response to our whims or wishes, no matter how noble they may be. We are the ones being tested, not God.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 143

“Where is the way of escape [from temptation]? In the same place temptation is introduced: in your mind. Every temptation is first a thought introduced to your mind by your own carnality or the tempter himself. If you ruminate on that thought and consider it an option, you will eventually act on it and that’s sin.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 148

“God has not only declared us forgiven, but He has removed our filthy garments of unrighteousness and clothed us with His righteousness. Notice that the change of wardrobe is something that God does, not we ourselves.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 154

“Accusation leads to death; conviction leads to repentance and life.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 157

“Don’t believe anything Satan says about you; it’s a lie. Believe everything God says about you; it’s the truth which will set you free.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 161

Consider:

Why is my freedom so important to the world?

B002_Full_The_Bondage_Breaker

Purchase The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson

 

 

 

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

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Book Review: Healing the Hurts of Your Past by F. Remy Diederich

Healing-the-Hurts-of-Your-Past-StackHealing the Hurts of Your Past: Overcoming the Pain of Shame by F. Remy Diederich can only be described as a life-altering read. The main topic of discussion in this book is shame, learning how to recognize it and defeat its power in your life. If you’re thinking, “Oh, I don’t struggle with shame, I’ve never done anything that bad,” I urge you to purchase this book anyway. You’ll probably be surprised at the things you’ll discover you believed about yourself and how it has negatively affected your life.

As a person who has been through every recovery book known to man, who has lived life as an addict and been set free from a multitude of other spiritual strongholds, I thought I would read things in this book that were familiar concepts or things I had already mastered in previous recovery efforts. I never expected it to have the impact on my life that it did. It’s one thing to be set free from destructive behaviors, it’s another thing altogether to discover what beliefs and attitudes propelled the wrong behavior in the first place. That’s exactly what this book does in an amazingly brilliant way.

Healing the Hurts of Your Past helped me to see the destructive role shame has played in my life over the years, and how easy it is to overlook it, thinking some other source is the cause of my problems. Nearly every “bad” behavior, whether physical (promiscuity) or emotional (bitterness) can be traced back to the pain of shame.

This book needs to be in the hands of every recovering addict, for one, as well as parents and loved ones of people who are struggling with addiction, mental issues, depression, and suicidal tendencies. This book will change how you view your loved one who is suffering in these ways. And if you’re the person who is suffering emotionally, this book (if you apply what you learn) will change your life too. If I had enough money I’d give everyone I know a copy of Healing the Hurts of Your Past.

Honestly I was blown away at how accurate it describes the mind and the way shame affects so many areas of our lives from perfectionism to the way we raise our kids. The biggest takeaway for me was discovering how the shame I’d lived with had actually influenced the way I parented my child. I was able to see just how much emotional trauma I could potentially place on my child if I allowed shame’s fruit to ripen in my life. It’s easy to admit that our problems affect us; it’s a whole other issue to admit our problems affect our children too.

So, thank you Remy, for writing this book and sharing this truth with the world.

Though author Remy Diederich had previously given me another one of his books to read/review (read my review of STUCK), this book was something I purchased on my own because I loved his other book so much. Everything I’m writing here is my own opinion and was not coerced in any way. I have not received anything in return for writing this review.

To purchase Healing the Hurts of Your Past or Stuck by F. Remy Diederich from the publisher, click HERE. To purchase on Amazon click HERE for Healing the Hurts or HERE for STUCK: How to Mend and Move on from Broken Relationships.

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F. Remy Diederich is the author of Healing the Hurts of Your Past…a guide to Remyovercoming the pain of shame and STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships. He is the founding pastor of Cedarbrook Church in Wisconsin, the spirituality consultant at Arbor Place Treatment Center, and offers retreats and seminars based on his two books.

I encourage you to follow Remy on Facebook or Twitter and follow his blog: http://readingremy.com
You can also email Remy at: remydiederich@yahoo.com

Pleasing God by R.C. Sproul

A war is raging within us, a deadly triad of enemies battling our spirit to keep us from pleasing God. We want to do what is right, but at the same time our deep self-rooted desires pull us away from what is pure, wholesome, and altogether pleasing to our Heavenly Father. Over time we may find ourselves discouraged and distraught over our inability to live as God called us to live. If this war rages on, ignored, we will never live up to our full potential honoring God through our lives.

Pleasing God by R.C. Sproul is a worthy spiritual resource for anyone who desires to align their life with the Word of God. Readers will walk away with a clear understanding of what is expected from those who would claim to be a Christian.

“True living flows out of right thinking…how we think about God is the most vital influence to how we respond to God.” (pg. 185)

What does right thinking look like? What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit? What enemies are at war within us? What evidence can we look for in our lives to show we are, indeed, pleasing God in all we do?

These questions are answered along with many more. Sproul also touches on various issues such as conversion, forgiveness, pride, integrity, laziness, carnal Christianity, doctrines of faith and many more key subjects. Simply stated, Pleasing God is an all-inclusive guide through the process of sanctification in the believer’s life.

Of considerable interest is Sproul’s extensive work on the subject of guilt scattered throughout the text. He discusses false guilt, guilt from sin, as well guilt that results in physical and psychological disease. Many people struggle with guilt, and anyone could benefit from the application of truth concerning guilt presented in this manuscript.

Pleasing God consistently points readers to the Word of God—knowing it as well as believing it. Without knowledge of the Bible, a person cannot understand how to please God.

“Consciousness involves knowledge. Before we can willfully do what God commands and what pleases Him, we must first understand what God requires. From the law comes a knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20). But from the law also comes the knowledge of righteousness (Rom. 7:12; Psalm 119).” (pg. 186)

Pleasing God is not overly-complicated or lengthy. It masterfully presents truth in an easy-to-understand manner. Readers will walk away from this book with a renewed motivation to actively pursue God, put Him first, know His Word more, and persevere in pleasing God in every aspect of life.

Pleasing God is published by David C. Cook and available for purchase on September 1, 2012.

R.C. Sproul is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries and serves as the senior minister at Saint Andrew’s, a Reformed congregation in Sanford, Florida.  Sproul has written dozens of books including The Prayer of the Lord, The Reformation Study Bible, Chosen by God, and The Truth of the Cross.

(I received this book for review purposes and was not required to give a good review.)

Celebrate Sorrow

Suggested Reading: Nehemiah 8:7-12

“It is a time to celebrate with a hearty meal, and to send presents to those in need; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (The Living Bible)

It was a momentous day for Judah. For the first time in their generation, they read the laws of God as given to Moses. In an instant their spiritual eyes were opened to the truth-and how far they had strayed from it.

They wept incessantly. The Israelites were sorry for their sins and the sins of their ancestors and desperately wanted to make it right. Ezra and Nehemiah reassured the people that while it was ok to be sad over their sin, they shouldn’t live in that state of mind.

The truth of God’s word should bring repentance, but that repentance should give great joy as God’s mercy is celebrated. Celebrating the goodness of God should cause worship, and worship should create an outward focus on the needs of the world.

When I look back on my life, it’s tempting to live in a state of despair and regret. However, God is not glorified in my incessant weeping. Jesus doesn’t tell me to live in sorrow, he tells me to, “Go, and sin no more₁”. Ezra puts it well, “What hope could we have if [God] gave us justice₂?”

I rejoice that I have not been given the justice I deserve. That joy strengthens me to share the redemptive, transforming message of the Gospel with others.  I may weep for a moment but I’ll rejoice for eternity.

  1. John 8:11
  2. Ezra 9:15

Focus

“I have tried hard to find you-don’t let me wander from your commands.” Psalm 119:10 NLT

Focus

 What does our life look like without the Word?

It’s so easy to lose focus. I must be a professional at this. How many times have I read Matthew 14:29-30, and scoffed at Peter for not keeping his eyes on Jesus while he was walking on the water? Come on, Peter! How hard could that have really been when you had Jesus right in front of you? Of course, easy to be a back seat Bible reader, isn’t it? How often do we see someone else going through a difficult time, and we proudly tout our Bible logic, “Just trust Jesus!” We’ve done our part, shared some wisdom, and maybe we’ll say a prayer or two for that individual.

Then OUR storm comes.

Before you know it, we’re wandering around in a sea of confusion and doubt. Perhaps this type of thing happened in the Psalmists life, and he recognized his need to stay close to God’s Word. He cried out, “Don’t let me wander from your commands!” How often do we pray such a thing?

 Maybe we would do well to ask God for some focus.

 Maybe, if we had more focus in His Word, our circumstances wouldn’t feel so crushing.

The second our eyes wander from the Word is the same second our focus gets shifted to the storm-from Him to me.

When we are saturated in the promises and truth of God’s Word, it leaves little room for doubt and wandering eyes. Does it mean we’re bad Christians if we have a moment of fear or worry? No, I think that means we are normal.  However, there is a difference between momentary glances at our circumstances (fear and worry) then there is a shift of focus (doubt, unbelief, depression).

If we recognize these feelings within us, we must force ourselves to focus on His Word, the Truth, and His care for us. It’s the only way out of the miry pit of self-pity and spiritual collapse.

“…they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” Hosea 5:15

How nice it would be if it didn’t take the misery of guilt, depression, worry, doubts, or pain to seek the face of God? Like the Psalmist we should be asking our Savior to keep our focus continuously on His Word, that we will not become distracted, disjointed, and despairing followers of Christ.

Let us stay committed to focusing on the Word of God and leave no room for wandering spiritual eyes.

Prayer

Jesus, do not let me stray from your Word! Keep me faithful to your truth, and keep my focus on your promises of care and love for me. Do not let the circumstances of life overwhelm and consume me with fear, worry, and unbelief; rather, let my focus be so intent on you that these lies will have no place in my heart. Convict me where I need a change of focus, and draw me deeper into your Word.