Jan 31 2010

Sometimes the choices we make, define us…

The Skit Guys – God’s Chisel

I recently went back to my home town where I grew up – a small village up North that sits nestled along the sides of a river.  At one end of village there is an estuary leading to open water and at the other end are bush clad hills.  In the last century they used the river to transport logs and cargo.  At one end of the river, if you know where to look, there is an old overgrown graveyard, planted in the hills, it looks over the river and holds the remains of many of the men that lost their lives on the river or ocean waves.

The river is tidal and had come in and gone out hundreds of times, before I returned that day.  The last time I had been here was when I was about 17, I am now dangerously close to 40.  When I was growing up in the village, my friends and I, used to rule the area.  We were big fish in a very small pond and were into all manner of things, some good and some bad.  In most small towns you have a few things in common, a gas station, a local store, school, takeaways and a Publican.  Not a lot of opportunities for employment, not a lot of opportunities full stop.

I struggled constantly under the rule of a man that also struggled with the bottle and his internal demons.  This man is my father and I yearned for his love and approval, but instead received his violence, bitterness and jealously over my mother’s love for me.  It finally got to a point where I could no longer endure the abrupt change in emotions that each day brought.  It was time to move on, the tide was about to change, and as the sea once again drained itself away from the shores of the village, so did I.

I moved to a bigger city and got a job and few years went by.  I got married to a wonderful Christian woman who through time taught me how to love.  She has not stopped believing and seeing the best in me, even if at times I found that the most difficult to bear, as I knew my heart.  Over time God spoke to my heart, at first it wasn’t easy to trust a Father, it wasn’t easy to be a son.  However, God’s timing like everything about Him is perfect.  He knew exactly the right time to show me His love and His acceptance.  It seemed like the most logical thing in the world to do, and so I gave my life to Christ.  As I did that, I finally stopped running, and started to accept that I now have a heavenly father that loves me so much.  I was filled with a river of love that to put it quite simply is at times overwhelming.  I stood against the recycling of my natural father’s life and made a decision to live my life for a greater cause where I serve only Christ.  Has it been easy? No – but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  Now because of Christ I am becoming a better man, husband and father.  Most of all I am now a son of the most High, who is dearly loved, by a God who wants to know about me, who counts the hairs on my head – “Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it and the very hairs on your head are all numbered, so don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows”. Matthew 10:29 – 31(NLT), and keeps my tears in a bottle – “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book”. Psalm 58:6 (NLT)  Even more than that, he made it possible through His son Jesus Christ, that I, a sinner, can be saved.  It is truly a mystery to me that My Lord would come to this earth, leave His heavenly throne and all His majesty and glory.  Be violently nailed to a cross and left to hang and to die of a broken heart.  He did all this for my salvation, even when it was my sin that put Him there in the first place.  I am eternally thankful that he did, for I am His and He is mine.

And here I was, some 20 years on, looking over the river, watching it glide along, remembering the same sounds and smells of my youth.  I decided to go for a run; I parked my car at the beginning of the village and began to run from one end to the other.  As I started, many memories came flooding back, some good but mostly bad.  Then as I began to warm up, the blood pumping through my veins, I started to hear it, it startled me a first as it was totally unexpected.  It was the voice of the enemy, coming through as the voice of my father, reminding me that I will never be anything, tearing away at my confidence.  I heard loud shouting and the vivid memories of explosive violence, which I knew only too well.

And as the sweat started to drip down my face and sting my eyes, as the tiredness started to grab hold of my legs, I literally felt like I was running with the devil.  I felt attacked by my past so many memories, so long ago.  But as I reached the halfway point, I noticed that things started to ease, the voices were not so intimidating, not so loud, not filled with the same rage they started with.  As I ran past the old Store, I realised to my surprise that no one even recognised me.  That time had in fact moved on, this wasn’t my home anymore, my spirit no longer lived here.  I have a love and freedom now that world cannot understand.

And then I looked at that river I remembered what Jesus said… “If you are thirsty, come to me! If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.” John 7:38 -39 (NLT) ...I am His and He is mine, I declare that I have been bought at a high price, by the blood of my Lord and Saviour – Jesus Christ, I am part of the river of living water.

I returned to my car, and decided to take one more drive through the village before I head back down south.  In my pride I thought I would be recognised, in my shame I was glad I wasn’t.  Its funny how we think we leave an impact on a place, like a wake behind a vessel, but when we do go back we are hardly recognised. The Psalmist said it best – “Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.  The wind blows, and we are gone – as though we had never been here. But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!” Psalm 103:15 -18 (NLT). So as I left this village, this place where my old nature lived, to return to my wife and children, I noticed the river boats like myself have slowly started to move, to change direction, to follow new currents at the changing of the tides.

What about you friend? Have you faced up to the voices of your past, to receive your future, that only He can give… or are you still running with the enemy?