I wrote this when my children were little.
Sweet and Strong
My children are special to me,
They are whatever they want to be,
A ballet dancer, a movie star,
The cookie monster in the cookie jar.
They live with me and visit their Dad,
It’s the best arrangement to be had.
They get the best of both worlds you see;
Of Dad and his family and of kitty and me.
They are fun, they are special,
They are my pride and joy;
This pretty sweet girl and this strong gentle boy.
Yep! We got divorced when they were little and I remarried when they were nine and ten. Now, I don’t know what was the more traumatic – the divorce or remarriage. They were very resilient and have grown into fine adults, but they had faced many challenges by the time they left home to become their own persons.
After we had been married a year, Joe and I got ‘saved.’ It was wonderful and strange. We started going to church whenever the door was open and if there wasn’t a church program, then we went to a visiting ministry. We were in church twice on Sunday, had family altar on Monday, Tuesday was home fellowship, Wednesday was church, Thursday was choir practice, Friday was the youth meeting where we had a leadership role. Saturday was open – really?
We had the children do their homework for an hour, practice their band instruments for an hour and study the Bible for an hour – and then – they could go outside and play but they didn’t get to go very often.
We did some good things, but the schedule outweighed most of it.
To say that we made mistakes is an understatement. We had great kids, but we never made knowing the Lord a good thing. Jesus came because the Father loved us but all we knew was a series of rules to be followed and meetings to attend. We have no defense. We just wanted to do it right and in the process we became Pharisees and religionists. We were like the only people in the Scriptures that Jesus ever got mad at.
My husband dropped out of the church process twice because what he experienced didn’t line up with the Scripture. We didn’t put down roots because we couldn’t find the answers.
In my studies, I found the Scripture in Galatians that says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free!” I wasn’t free. I didn’t know how to be free. Joe didn’t know how to be free. I remember telling a friend who was a Pastor’s wife that I knew this had to work, and she asked me “to call her when I figured it out!” She didn’t know either. We were going through the motions that was expected by the church leadership and our peers. What we didn’t understand was that when our enemy was unsuccessful in killing Jesus, he decided to join the church. He twists what happens and keeps us focused on ourselves. It is a successful strategy and we live out of our heads instead of our hearts. This diminishes the truth of the Spirit. Without the Word, Christianity is just another religion. Without the Spirit, it is all about rules and doctrine and has no life.
We spent a lot of time judging others who were as lost as we were. We thought the little light that we saw was better than the little light that they had. Judging is a bad deal. The Scripture tells us that when we judge others, we are also judged the same.
We began to look for answers and went from one church to another regularly never finding the freedom we saw in the Scriptures. Soon we realized that the way we had raised the children was counter productive, but they had moved on and there was no second chance. We were saved but we had missed the love walk.
I apologized to our kids, but I don’t think they ever understood what we were talking about. My heartache was that even though I know that Jesus is the answer, I didn’t know why, and my life didn’t reflect the joy and love I knew should be there. I kept looking while Joe just gave up and stayed home. I got involved in several churches that made no sense and one group that was really dangerous. Joe tried to tell me that I was on thin ice, but I didn’t listen. It seemed to me that he was against everything and I wanted fellowship so I just closed my ears. I learned that God gave me a husband to protect me and I should listen to him. I won’t make that mistake again!
In the last year, we have been fortunate to find a fellowship that isn’t church as usual. The leader really knows God. He isn’t just talking about what he has read or heard others say. He actually hears from the Lord and he is teaching us to hear for ourselves. He hates religion! He isn’t all about himself or being the super star. He tells us how God has become real and changed his life from drug and sexual addictions to the free-est man I have ever met. It is an honor to get to know him and a bigger honor to get to know Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Father God.
He has poured hours of one-on-one time into Joe and I. In all the years we have sought the Lord, no one has ever been willing to share with us in this manner. It has opened us up in new ways. We have been privileged to meet the Lord face-to-face. I read about it, but never thought it would happen to me. I am very grateful.
As an encourager, he has helped us to see our gifts from our hearts and not from our heads. He has encouraged me to write and because of it, my writing skills have improved greatly and I find joy in it daily. I have watched him encourage one young man to develop his skills as our worship leader while developing other gifts in him at the same time. He improves every time he leads us. Another man is urged to use his gifts of leadership. There are so many more. He pours his life into us and we are developing, so that we can pour our lives into others. It is a true discipleship program.
You may be thinking that your church is great. I am happy for you and I do believe there are fellowships that are solid, but I also know that it is rare. The “rule makers” that confine us are doing what they have been taught and they, too, need to be set free! I pray regularly that the church will wake up. It’s time!
Thank God that now I am free! My prayer is that God will make Himself as real to others as He has made Himself to us.
Are you free? Write me and let me know your thoughts.
All of the book of Galatians
Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. NASB
Do not judge so that you will not be judged.
1 John 4:7
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is [a]born of God and knows God.
For this reason it says, “ Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.