“Maturity - a growing willingness to be led - even to places we might not eagerly choose.” Henri Nouwen – Turn My Mourning Into Dancing
Today is the first day of November...I can’t believe it. 2013 has flown by.
October has been no different. It has been an extremely busy month at The Shepherd’s House (TSH), for Grace Network International (GNI), and for us personally.
At TSH, the month began with a graduation celebration for 9 men from our long-term discipleship and habilitation program on Oct 4. It was then culminated with an incredible demonstration of God’s unconditional love and grace for His children through the body of His son Jesus Christ.
In order to maintain privacy for my good friend “John”, I have changed his name and some of the specific details of his story. Please know that the events that lead up to this special moment on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 are hard to communicate in writing, but it is an amazing testimony of the work of the Holy Spirit and to the living body of Jesus Christ.
My friend “John” has struggled with an extremely shameful sin for which he has been shunned and condemned for a very long time. His path with us at TSH has been nothing less than miraculous over the past 2 years. He is filled with the Holy Spirit and is walking closely with Jesus. However, he remained hidden with a part of his past. Hiding is a stronghold of Satan and when our lives begin to change, stress and anxiety begin to take control. This was no different for John.
Struggling as a child and as a young man in a difficult home environment, he has been unable to forgive his family, himself and those around him. John continued in a life of drunkenness and theft well into his adult years. Time in prison was not good to John, but all of this began to change when he came to live with us at TSH.
For the first year, John dove into God’s Word. He also spent a lot of time learning and walking in a different way, a way unfamiliar to him. He has a personal relationship with Jesus, but in a way, his life was still hidden because of the shame of his past. As John continued to bump into “Grace”, it challenged him to think differently.
“How could someone know everything about me and still love me?” he asked.
And then it happened…the tipping point of change, stress and anxiety. John walked out the door of TSH without a plan of where to go or what to do next. In less than 24 hours he was struggling deep within himself and the pain was unbearable. He chose to “self-medicate” by diving into the sin that he thought he had control over.
Relapse is a process. It is not an single event, but rather it is something that happens over time. From my experience, you don’t have to be an alcoholic or drug addict to fall into relapse. Most of us at some point in our life, if we are honest, follow a pattern and fall back into our hidden sin (Satan’s stronghold).
Looking back, the signs were clear for John, but he didn’t want anyone to know. He wanted to press through it, AND for the most part, it appeared he would. But, one night was his last night at TSH…or so he thought.
At TSH there are several ways someone can exit themselves from the program (I’ve talked about this in the past and you can read more about it at http://brian.gracenetworkintl.org/04/bad-things-are-happening/). One of those ways is to just walk out and not come back. This is what John did. However, we also provide a way back for those individuals who “wake up” and realize they have made a grave mistake. John didn’t realize this right away and the shame of his actions continued to drive him further away from us.
Through the relationship with others, he came to a place where he started to peel the layers of his past and his most recent actions.
We meet each day at 9 am as a community to allow each of us to “confess one to each other and pray for each other so that we may be healed” (James 5:16). On Wednesday, October 30, during our Self Evaluation time together (http://brian.gracenetworkintl.org/10/accountability-vs-protective-love/), John was able to break this stronghold and allow the Grace of Jesus Christ to begin to heal his woundedness. When asked, “what is your greatest fear, being loved or being cast away?” John answered, “being cast away.” Grace is a gift from God. It is loving someone (or ourselves) even when we know the worst about us.
John is now back in our community and walking through the pain of his past. He has a “growing willingness to be led by Jesus Christ – even to places he might not eagerly choose.”
Oct 4 – TSH Graduation
Oct 5 – Beth, Taylor, Chad, Jarod run in the Run or Dye 5K run.
Oct 7 – Dwight Long visits from Des Moines, IA.
Oct 11 – Uncle Chris visits from CA.
Oct 15 – Teaching “The Cure” at TSH.
Oct 22 – A good friend from Ohio undergoes heart surgery.
Oct 23 – GNI Webinar Series - “Conformity vs. Transformation”
Thank you for your support and for your prayers.