I wanted to share a bit about me so that you have some idea of me. This is obviously not all encompassing but it does explain what God has done for me and the power he has shown in my life. This is a testimony I shared with Portland Metro Church (Portland, OR). I want to say thank you Pastor Jon Hagerbush for allowing me the opportunity to share the life God has granted me. This was spoken so you will find many errors that are not normal in written communications, you will also find that there are many ideas that are not fully completed. Please see it for what it is. An explanation of one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. God Bless.
“I wish that I had some greatness to share with you today or a great gift to give this church this part of the body of Christ my family. That is what you are to me family and you always will be. I found my way while you supported me. I was lost in myself and whether you know it or not I found myself in Christ through this family. What I wish to share with my family today is my shame. My failure and God’s grace. I want to explain some of what I have gone through and how God brought redemption to me. I hope in embarrassing myself and sharing my shame I can give hope to those who have shame they can’t shake. Who are embarrassed or at least use to be embarrassed by this shame. There is hope there is freedom there is redemption. The price has been paid and yes you can be free. I found that freedom real life.
To do this I need to set the stage so you have understanding and insight into me and how deep my shame was. How much of a hold it had on me and the struggles I went through. I only even say this because I know others here struggle as well and they have not found the freedom and life I am speaking of. I feel light and free. I see a whole ocean in front of me with nothing hindering me. I have never understood this before. I have never really understood freedom. I was always good. I always followed Christ at any given time if I were to die I would have gone to heaven without doubt. I understood forgiveness of sins. I am not speaking of that but of freedom from oppression. I am saying that Christians can also be beset with sin as I was. I had shame.
I no longer have shame. Though this is embarrassing and hard it is life giving for me and I hope for you. Remember the Bible says “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed” James 5:16. My confession and my shame being made known can bring freedom and healing. I hope this will also help you.
To move forward let us take a look backwards first. There were seeds planted in me when young. Seeds that if allowed to bloom would lead only to death and destruction. Seeds that spent years working their way through me and trying to hinder, stop, and steal all that God was doing. There were times when young others, unknowingly watered them and as I got older and understood more there were times I watered them. I believe that everyone has seeds planted in them both good and bad the questions is which ones do we nourish and which ones do we starve so they die. I want to talk about two of them that were planted in me early in my life. My earliest memories regarding these seeds and the beginning of my bondage to them is when I was around 5 or 6 maybe earlier it is a bit cloudy the older I get. The first is mental and the second is sexual. I shall deal with both and show you how God’s grace brings real freedom not partial but complete. God does not only give us freedom for a little while but freedom period.
I want to deal with the mental seed first. I do not know how this seed was planted or where it came from it was started very very early in life. Let me explain. It started when I was young I do not remember when first though it goes back as far as I remember. I had voices (whether it was mental or they were demonic I do not know) in my head that would chant things to me things that were bad about me. At times it would seem to go on forever and never let up in reality it would last for days and even weeks always there in the background no matter how much I tried to drown it out to relieve myself from it. I could find no relief. Sometimes it was so loud that I could hear nothing else while other times it was a faint whisper that only nagged me. It went on for years it actually went on until my freshman year of college. I will get to this soon. As time went on it started to manifest itself in weird ways. At some point in my tween years the seed started to get stronger and take more of my life over. I started to repeat everything I said after I said it under my breath quietly to myself. It was like I was telling myself what I had just said. I never understood why I did this. I think the seeds goal was to completely take over my mind and thusly my body. The repeating everything under my breath became so common it became subconscious and I even lost track of my doing it. My mom tried to get me to stop I just got better at ignoring her and the others that heckled me about it. I did try to change I just could not. The voices never left and now they started to come out. I could sit for hours chanting quietly to myself the same thing the voices would say. The seed was truly growing strong and willful. I prayed everyday and I looked to God for help. I actually never told anyone until I told my wife and even now only about five or six people know and now you my family. I have hinted around this while I was teaching and I thought of bringing it out fully to share so others could find hope and know that God does help in these situations. I see no reason to get into further details here you understand what I was going through. The seed had taken strong root and was maturing into a fine plant that would in the end lead to death.
It all changed my freshman year in college, I went to Northwest Bible College, I had some Godly friends come around me and help me heal from this. They never even knew what they were doing just by being Godly influences in my life and not allowing me to have bad mental habits God healed me. They planted good seeds in me. They watered them all without even knowing they did this. The repeating everything under my breath went away and the voices went away. God brought complete healing. My freshman year in college was a life changer I could finally think straight and understand things I never understood before. My mind was clear and life was clear for the first time that I could remember.
Now I want to move onto the second seed. The one that was planted in me very very young. I need to explain a bit of background first so you understand how the seed was first planted then you will understand why it was so deep within me.
My dad would have porn around the house not hidden just open in fact he at times would decorate with it. As children we saw this. The seed was planted. Over the years I had varying battles with this seed and the influence it had over me. There were years where I never thought of it directly though it was always there in the back of my mind. It always was ready to stick its ugly head up when it saw an opening. At times I thought it over I thought I would never have to deal with this again. My shame was not yet full though and I knew that it was not. I knew deep inside (no matter how much I tried to ignore it) it was waiting for the next time. It waited for my next struggle that I needed my fix to make it through. I understood I could always go back to it and find something familiar and almost homey really. (sick I know). It really lost its sexual component to me. I even did not physically react to it but I mentally did ( again sick I know) it brought a perverted sense of comfort to me. I believe that it was giving me a sentimental piece back to the times where I was with my dad a connection one of the only real connection I ever had with him as a child. I seem to know that when all else failed it would still be there. I could find that temporary escape I needed because reality sucked. It was often bad full of unhappiness and destruction (ironic that is what porn is full of). I saw righteous people suffer and the unrighteous succeed and I did not understand. I failed over and over again in life and in business. I did not get it. I did not understand. I could spend long periods of time in my life without it sticking its ugly head up. I did fight I fought hard really hard but it would always come back. That was the problem I fought and fought and fought. It finally came to a head. I told myself it was over it had been a long while since the seed showed itself.
Then something really bad happened to me. In fact the worst thing that I have ever gone through it was tough. I worked for my dad and we had a falling out. I quit. It was bad it got physical and it turned into not speaking for a few years. That was the second time in my life I went a few years without speaking to him. It is better now but when this happened it sent me into a tailspin straight down. I did not know there was that much darkness in me. I did not realize that I had that kind of despair in me. I could not fathom it. I felt like my world had ended. I felt hated by everyone I had failed once more. Who am I? I surely was not the person I thought I was going to be. I was a failure. I was someone who was a drag on society and someone who even God could not care for. Intellectually I would tell anyone God cares for them because it is true. I just know I was not sure I was anyone. I thought why? why go on? (I did not mean die) I mean why continue with Christ. All I got was hardship, failure and rejection.
This all built up over the years and came to fruition here and now. All the rejection I felt from all those in the church ( I mean different leaderships I worked with not the body) in my family in my wifes family, from my wife and all the rejection real or perceived had come and I figured it was justified. I thought why continue? Why should I fight this fight any more. Why not just give in and give up? Why should I keep trying to be good? I should just do what everyone else is doing and allow sin to have its way. Dive in the deep end I thought and allow the rest of my life disintegrate into nothingness then maybe God will kill me and end my suffering. I would give no one the satisfaction of killing myself.
I understood at the time that many would wish it so that I would no longer be there to bring pain to them. Particularly those close to me. I was deep in despair. Then there it was the seed that was now ready to bloom. It came full force to me and said I am here for you. Please let me bring some peace to you let me comfort you and chase away all those cares. You know I am not going anywhere. You know I have always been here. You know I am faithful. Yes I thought in those terms. I yearned for peace. I yearned to be free from all this. I was in shock. I did not realise these depths were in me. I did not realize all this darkness was there. I was basically a guy who followed Christ. I understood Scripture. I went to Bible school and I preached and taught in different churches around. I had a battle in me and it was for my very soul. It went deeper then I ever understood and I am sure it went deeper still. God was fighting on my behalf. He sent heavens warriors for me. He stood in front of me and took the brunt though at the time I did not understand this. I thought I was all alone. I thought I was abandoned not only by people around me but by God. I felt complete despair and agony. God fought on. He fought hard. He kept me when I tried to step off the cliff and finish my fall. Take that final step that would sever me from everything I held dear. My family, My church, My God.
The attempted to take over my mind and the center of my being. I slowly gave step by step gave in. My mind went places I never ever ever thought it could go. At first I tried to justify the thoughts in my mind then later I just said it did not matter I knew there was no justification but I was not sure if I was going to make it or not. God fought on.
God protected me and gave me hope to hold on to. Usually little things that I could grasp that would allow me to think I have a chance however slim it was. I have a chance. Let me see if God really wants me if He really cares enough to come after me. I do not think I was so much testing him (for I did not think of it like that at all) but more seeing if what He said is true. If one sheep strays from the flock He would leave the 99 and go get the one. I never ever thought of myself as the one but I was now almost ready to see myself that way.
How did I come out of this? How did the turn around come? Honestly, it is simple really (though very painful). I saw Pastor and his attitude. He always had a good one always. That was like a life preserver for me without that I am not sure I would have survived. God put Pastor in my life for just this purpose and Pastor did not even know it. I want to also recognize Carol for though she did not know she played a key role. She always encouraged me and I felt a connection that was healing and uplifting. I am fully appreciating of it. Jesus’s Father had to do some serious surgery in me and it was going to hurt for often when the Father does surgery there is no anesthetics used. We need to feel the pain through and through. When Christ was on the cross and they tried to give him the special wine that helps to kill the pain he tried to refuse it. Pain will teach us and will guide us. I had to go through the pain of the surgery so that I would be completely free. Without any fetters.
I never knew anything could be so hard. I had worked so hard and so long of hours that I have weeks where I only slept 8 hours for the whole week. Days where I worked between 20 to 22 hours a day multiple times in a row. I have found physical exhaustion to the point of barely being able to move or think straight working out in a field in the middle of the night using the headlights of my vehicle to finish. I understand hard work. This surgery was harder and more exhausting than any of that. Mind you this was all going on at the same time.
Now the question comes how do I know that I was made free. The answer is easy but not easy to explain. I just do. There is the answer. There was no single moment where I can look back and say there it is. It was a series of moments combined together that brought it all together. After a while I came to the realization that the seed which was planted all those years ago was actually not getting stronger but more desperate trying harder to not die off at the same time losing its grip it had on me and dieing off. I found it grew weaker as Christ grew stronger. Then it was done.
I know this and I can share that even just the other day I was searching for a picture for my Theology blog that I am starting and while my search term was theology and I was looking at photographs that have something to do with theology a full naked women was in a picture with the words theology tatooed on her I could not tell you why but I can tell you this. Normally the seed would have stuck its ugly head up and it did not. I felt no compulsion or desire to continue I just kept on going and it had not even the littlest hold on me. I never thought I would be in this point. I figured this was something that I would forever fight and something that God would cleanse from me when I get to heaven. Thank you Jesus for cleansing me thoroughly.”