Monday, June 27, 2011

Paul's Take

If you read Bethany’s earlier posts, you are aware that we have been delivered from the bondage of legalism. The legalism that we speak of is not often recognized as legalism. Our legalism was the kind that says, “You are in the Kingdom of God, but you still have work to do to earn the favor and blessing of God. You have to strive to be really loved by God.” I know that some will say, “Where did you come up with that?” To be honest, I am not really sure myself. It is not in the Scriptures. Looking back we can see were discontent and not happy in God. So we believed that we could somehow work to get content and happy in God. (Oh, wait, some of you may think God does not want me to be happy, just holy. If you think that to be holy is not to be happy I feel sorry for you) Anyway, with each effort to make ourselves more content and happy in God we drifted farther away from Him. We would often cry out to God, “What are we doing wrong, what do we have to do to get you to bless us?” Bethany was often angry with God. She was trying so hard to make God happy with our family and we were always coming up empty. We were trying to keep up on our end and feeling we were getting nothing back from God.

On top of that, we had all the legalistic groups that were always vying for our adherence. They would scream out to us, “If you are not like us, you are falling short, God is not happy with you.” I could give quite a list. Some of these groups are so cultic and demanding of their adherents that I would go out of my way to not run into them if was not walking the line. There was so much fear and self loathing. I believed I was the worst husband and father and Beth believed she was the worst wife and mother. Yes, there are husbands, wives, fathers and mothers that beat their kids commit adultery and do all manner of evil and vice, But, we were worse, because we had been enlightened, so to speak. To top that off, every seemingly bad thing that happened to us was the discipline of God, and He obviously was not happy with us, as we were sometimes told. If we tried to open up to others, we would receive no help just condemnation. I could go on and on.

But, praise be to God. He delivered us. Before He delivered us, we were involved in a home church group. That was the last attempt at making God pleased with us to the point of blessing. In was in this group that God gave me the revelation of His grace. It was in this group that I saw the polarity of those who love grace and those who seemingly hate grace. I was forced to choose grace and peace over fear and hate. I chose grace and peace and have not been the same since. It was after this that I realized that God loves me in spite of me.

Whoa! What a feeling! I am finally free from the yoke of slavery! I do not have to work anymore! I have been redeemed! Get, this, GOD LOVES PAUL WOODS. GOD LIKES ME. GOD WANTS TO BE WITH ME. You know what makes this AMAZING? I did not lift one finger to get His love lavished upon me. Now that’s amazing!

Next time I want to talk about what this freedom is and what its implications are.


Bean said...

I went to an afternoon of reflection given by a Franciscan brother, he said instead of thinking who is God to me, we should think who am I to God - meaning each and everyone of us is important to God and God loves each and everyone us uniquely. A powerful message, and a totally awesome message.

Blessings to you,

Bethany in mid-MO said...

Thanks for taking the time to share this. I sure am glad we are in all this together!

Anonymous said...

Bethany (and Paul:)!),
Thank you so much for your openness. I have been facing some spiritual warfare lately and I am your common story - smile and make everone think everything is fine. I read a couple of your posts today and God lined everythng up to have a couple come over tonight and pray for and over me. What a blessing! I wanted you to know that God has used you! Be blessed!

Bethany in mid-MO said...

Anonymous, I genuinely hope that you find victory in this warfare. I trust that your time of prayer was a blessing. I am glad that our posts have ministered to you!