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AN ALCOHOLIC DAZE By Dave Oakley. Guest Writer

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SO MUCH FUN

It is fun to experiment when we are young. We feel adult, in control of our life. We feel we can take on the world, life seems so exciting.

The taste of alcohol and the euphoria it brings is very fun and pleasurable and so we indulge and an addiction is born. The addiction grows until we are its servant, trapped, our life is down the gurgler.

The same goes for addiction to drugs.  First the experiment, then enjoyment, then continuing the enjoyment, then the trap is sprung and addiction has us in its grip.

How to break the power of addiction?

David Oakley found the way.  The way is Jesus, Jesus is the addiction defeater.

ADDICTION

‘You’re a drunk, mate, an alcoholic, ‘Kevin said, one of two guys in Perth, with whom I shared a room. He was right, of course. My life was out of control with drinking, I was living to drink and drinking to live.  Alcohol told me where to go, what to do and who to mix with. Initially promising heaven drink had instead led me to the gates of a living hell.

Kevin’s voice and words held no weight nor had the power to break through the alcoholic daze I found myself in.  God’s voice and words could and did.

OLD HABITS DIE HARD
It was a year later. I’d just spent three weeks in a Mental Health Facility in Melbourne after hallucinating on a Pioneer Coach coming south from Brisbane. I now felt good.  Three weeks dry, full of good food and counsel.  I felt like things were looking up for the first time in years.

I decided to carry on to Adelaide and control the drinking.  Maybe even look up my first wife who had left me three years earlier after just nine months of marriage.  I found a room in Kent Town and a job in a foundry and started afresh. Old habits die hard.

P1140511-001.JPG I was soon drinking more and more, before work, during work, straight to the pub after work, Saturdays and Sundays.  The inevitable happened. A Saturday, Sunday session flowed through to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  I came to myself looking into the mirror behind the front bar of the Botanic Hotel, here in Adelaide. I think it was a Thursday.

I was a mess, my hair was dirty and uncombed, my eyes were wild, staring and bloodshot, my skin was a pasty colour with large red blotches where my blood pressure level was through the roof.  My clothes were stained and smelling. I was shaking uncontrollably internally and externally. Unable to hold the drink in front of me, I had to lap it like a dog.  I felt totally lost and alone, no hope and nowhere to turn.

THE VOICE
It was quiet in the bar, no barmen and no customers, then I heard a voice, I believed then and now it was the voice of God.

‘Dave, if you don’t stop drinking you will be dead within the year and in hell.’

That freaked me out, I left the drink, left the bar and went back to my room.  Locked the door and lay on the bed, fearful and exhausted.  One hour, two hours, I don’t know, but I began to see monstrous bats flying through the door, the walls, the windows, coming for me.  I was terrified to my core and screamed out, ‘God help me.’ I found the strength and courage to get off the bed and out of the room and ran terrified through the streets of Kent Town.

I ended up in St Anthony’s Hospital in St Peters suburb. Three weeks later into the program I was given a day pass, I was sober, felt good and confident to control the drinking.

I had dismissed the voice I heard as another figment of my drunken imagination and set out to prove it. I went back to the Botanic, sat at the bar and ordered a drink.  I thought as I took the first sip, this is good, another drink won’t hurt, no one at the Hospital will know. Maybe a third, I’m in control.  Alcohol was refastening it grip upon me once again.

Once more, it was quiet in the bar and I was on my own, when I heard ‘that voice’. The voice spoke with authority and certainly, ‘Dave, you have been warned, if you don’t stop drinking you will be dead within the year and then in hell.’
This time, I put the drink down and walked out of the bar.  By the grace of God I have not had another drink.

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NEW THINGS HAVE COME
About this time, I met my now wife.  Doreen took me to Bethesda, a church on Marion Road. The message was based on 2 Corinthians 5: 17, ‘Therefore if any man is in Christ he is a new creature. The old things passed away behold new things have come.’

That was what I wanted, what I needed I responded to the altar call the preacher made.  Led by the Spirit of God, I walked away from the sin, the guilt, the shame my drinking had led me to and  away from the gates of hell and through the gate that leads to heaven and Eternal Life – the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are reading this and find yourself bound, shackled and held  captive by addiction my prayer for you is that you would be set free by the power of God and the Name of Jesus.

 

 

 

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FIVE MEMORIES

 

P1260442.JPGOh, look! Here is a wedding invitation from Michael and Peggy.  I remember when Michael was a teenager and came to work on the fruit block during the summer holidays. To fund his goal to be a doctor he had to work during holidays and any spare time. There was only Michael, his brother and mother. I wonder if he reached his dream.

Michael and his mate, Lou, would have pitched buckets of rotten fruit at my husband Bruce, in after work fruit fights. Our children became very upset at Dad being picked on by these two boys. In fact, Bruce would have teased the boys, and they were only retaliating.

We have never heard of Mick again.  Lou married and became a father and Pastor. I sigh, so long ago, like ships passing in the night. Their lives crossed ours just for a moment in time.
POTENTIAL
Wow! My old diary.  Wonder what I wrote back then. Fancy that! It says we went to a combined Schools’ Concert in Whyalla and granddaughter Jessica was in the choir – 250 strong. Also, she was flautist in an ensemble of 12.  Jessica had so much potential, like a plant about to bloom.  Jessica is wife and mum to a daughter and son.

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GOLDEN WEDDING
Ah, here’s our golden wedding cards.  Who sent us these beautiful cards? Wayne and Mandy, my grandson and his wife.  His story is a miracle. He was only nineteen when he was diagnosed with leukemia.  Stem cell technology gave him a chance of living.  He is a father of twins now.  So many of his fellow sufferers have died.  He is a lone survivor.  His mother is too. She waged a successful war against breast cancer.

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MORE PRECIOUS THAN DIAMONDS
Oh and look! A card from the great grandchildren.  There are bits of paper stuck all over it and a note from their mother, ‘Happy Birthday, Nana.’ The card is not pretty or expensive, but it is prized above diamonds or pearls. The card was made by their little hands with much excited talk and glue everywhere to do something special for Nana.

In my memory box, there are stored hundreds of memories, good ones, bad ones. I’ve remembered only a few of what is stored in the box.

P1330784.JPGGOD’S MEMORY BOX

The great thing about God is that his memory box is empty. We are reminded in the book of Psalms that God cast our sin as far from him as the east is from the west and remembers them no more.’  God only records that Christ made us a new person when we invited him into our inner being person. New desires, actions, lifestyles were born in us then; this is the record that God keeps.

We keep our mental memory box full with the hurts and grudges against those who did us wrong. Years later, we are still carrying them.  God’s memory box is empty of our misdeeds because his only son Jesus took our place of condemnation.  When we believe and accept Jesus as our scapegoat, we are cleansed.  Our past is rubbed out. God forgives and forgets.

My memory box is full of cards, newspaper cuttings, photos and junk, I’m going to keep my memory box because I like to remember those who have drifted in and out of our life and what my children have achieved. However, I’m working on emptying my mental memory box. If God can forgive me totally, then I need to empty my memory and be the new person, he made me at the cross.

God sees me and you through Christ and what Christ has made us. God has chosen me and you above all else to be his beloved children, free from the clutter of sin. Let’s embrace that new life, unreservedly and live our full potential.

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THE FOUR DODGERS

 

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This man is dodging work under the guise of taking a spell anf having a coffee.  He will probably accomplish more after  relaxing for a time.

The story, Oliver Twist, had a character called the Artful Dodger He was well versed in the art of evading capture and hunger by stealth and cunning. There is a baseball team called the Dodgers.  They lived up to their name by dodging their opponents and winning the matches.

It is the way of human nature to dodge the issues of life and find ways and means of avoiding responsibility or facing the consequences of our actions.

 

MEET THE DODGE FAMILY

The Parent-dodgers sneak out after the parents have gone to sleep or have gone out. Sooner or later Parent dodgers get found out.  Their activities curtailed.  At the very worst,  parent dodging ends up in the hands of the police and a detention sentence is imposed. In adult life, parent dodging leads to boss dodging.  Faking our work ethic. It’s a form of cheating on the boss.  It spills over into marriages and spouses cheat on each other, fidelity in marriage may not smart anymore it shows integrity and morality.

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The cake and the bouquets are beautiful trimmings to  wedding. Adjustments and changes will be needed by the  Dodgers  for trusting intimacy to grow and the marriage become a solid union.Marriage doesn’t begin and end on the Wedding Day, it is a life-long committment.  There is no room for Dodgers or cheater.

 

There are Work-dodgers, people who do as little work as possible for the highest amount of pay. If they are clever, they can climb the ladder and reach the office of CEO. Conversely, they can reach the office of the homeless, living in the park under a cardboard carton and fed by a soup kitchen.

There are Dish-dodgers. Dishes are piled in the sink until there isn’t a clean article in the house.  Not very hygienic.  Eventually, dish-dodging includes clothing, and the toilet. In

fact, every aspect of hygiene is avoided and we see videos of houses from hell.  The whole house and contents should be bulldozed and carted off to the tip.  Often though, someone cleans up the house and it is rented out again.

There are even God-Dodgers. These people or some of them, like to appear as though they are Christian. They go to church and attend church activities. They mix with Christian people and in appearance they are Christian. Within themselves they are evading God. They are withholding themselves from an intimate relationship with God

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One image has been supe-imposed on the other.  Two worlds have been joined together.  Remember God deals with the heart. He is a heart-changer.

THE BETTER OF TWO WORLDS

The Artful Dodger escaped detection and was well fed, whereas the other boys starved.  God Dodgers are trying to live in the better of two worlds but it can’t be done when dealing with God. God does not give himself, his gifts of his enlightenment to people wanting to sit on the fence.

What the God-dodgers fail to realize is – they may fool the pastor/priest, even themselves but never God.  God looks at the intent of the heart.

Our parents, spouses, bosses will probably get very angry with our avoidance of work and responsibility on the other hand, God’s love is so vast and unfathomable that he isn’t mad at us.  God has brought in an era of grace or unearned favor toward us.  So, God is not mad at us. He and Jesus agreed that Jesus would be the scapegoat and bear the anger that should have been vented on us was poured out on Jesus.

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The cross is the symbol that God is not angry with us. THe cross is the sign of a radical love poured out on each of us, to make us more tthan we could be.

GOD IS NOT MAD

Jesus appeased God’s anger toward us when he was crucified.  Jesus carried my sin and yours on the cross. We now no longer face God’s anger.  He is no longer angry at us.

If we decide not to be a God-dodger, then we need to accept Jesus into our innermost being. This acceptance of Jesus will open the door to a new intimacy with God as Father. There maybe four kinds of dodgers or more in the world, yet there is only one path to God, through Jesus and that was is by believing

God doesn’t see any evaders.  When a person invites Christ to dwell in their heart, God doesn’t see them as dodgers anymore.  They are his beloved children who he is pleased with.  The miracle is: once we know God we don’t want to draw away from him, we only want to get closer. The more we know him the more we marvel at his love and are drawn to his love by his love.

God promised, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’

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MOSAIC MAGIC

 

 

 

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‘What can we do to make that old wash-trough look decent?’ Clare’s Mum asked one day. The wash-trough had been bricked in to make a fish tank with the left-over tiles from when the bathroom had been renovated. The trough now sat as a centre piece in the back garden and was considered an eyesore.

‘We could cover it with a mosaic,’ Clare suggested.

‘What could we use as pieces for the design?’ Mum wondered.

‘There are broken tiles behind the shed. Some pebbles are left over from the footpath,’ Clare did an inventory of the materials available.

The wash-trough became the base for a montage. It was Clare’s first attempt at turning broken pieces into a picture. The creative juices were set in motion even though a few years would lapse before there was another attempt.

 

P1330503.JPGTHE FIRST CREATORS OF MOSAICS

Mosaic art was first created by assembling small pieces of coloured glass, stones or other materials into a pattern. The earliest known mosaic pieces were found at a temple in Ubaid, Mesopotamia. It is thought to date to the second half of the third millennium BCE. The Greeks were the first creators, to use pebbles of the one size to create a floor mural.

Mosaic art became the ‘in thing’ when Christians began to use it to decorate the walls of churches instead of floors.

The two earliest examples of mosaic art are in Rome. The Santa Costanza, built about AD 350 as the tomb of a daughter of Constantine.  This shrine has lively mosaics using pagan themes decorating its vault. More significant is the mosaic in the apse of the Santa Puduziana, dating back to 390 AD.ADs. It depicts Jesus on a throne, his apostles supporting him either side.

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THE FACINATION OF DESIGN

When Clare returned to mosaics, design fascinated her, and she studied examples and techniques from books.  The bases were still recycled items; trays, boards that could be used for table tops, door numbers.

‘Beautiful pieces of china that were dropped found their way into my shed. The first pieces I produced were door numbers using the fine crockery pieces. The bases were plaques or notices on doors.

Used terra-cotta pots were grist to the mill of mosaicking, ‘Can you do something with these?’ Clare was asked by people wanting to dispose of unwanted pots. Always she rose to the challenge and produced stunning pots. Exterior walls and fences have undergone make overs with Clare’s mosaics.

What was the underlying challenge in mosaics for Clare? ‘I love doing jigsaw puzzles. Using mosaics is fitting the broken pieces together like a jigsaw, into something useful, decorative, striking.’ she says, adding, ‘The challenge for me is taking something that is rejected and turning it into a lovely, ornamental piece, giving it a second chance.’

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CARE FOR THE ILL

Training as a nurse and midwife put her in touch with many people who felt rejected by society and by God. Clare spent fifteen years as a missionary in Ghana working among the sick, and down trodden. In later life as a sister in a Doctor’s surgery, she rubbed shoulders with the less fortunate and ill. Her career path, led Clare to help put lives together as in a jigsaw. What was Clare’s secret? The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the master jigsaw solver. She could point the broken individuals to Jesus.

P1330592.JPG LOVE IS THE GROUT.

God is the master Creator of mosaic art. He sent Jesus to put together the lives of people who felt spurned and without hope and enable them to become useful and wonderful citizens. Clare was his heart of love to minister to them.

Clare uses grout to stick her pieces together. God uses love as his grout. A deep unconditional love to put people back together.  He does not reject anybody regardless of who and what they are. God has no favourites. When we experience the unconditional love of God, we are healed in spirit, mind and body.

We can experience that depthless love by opening our heart to God, by responding to him and accepting Jesus.  We have to get it out of our head and heart that God is judging us, that he censures us if we get it wrong. Embracing his love, accepting his love heals even our deepest guilt and fear.

THE MIRACLE OF AN INDWELLING CHRIST

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‘And he has put his own Holy Spirit into our hearts as a proof to us that we are living with him and he with us… we have seen with our own eyes and now tell all the world that God sent his Son to be their Saviour. Anyone who believes and says that Jesus is the Son of God has God living in him, and he is living with God.’(1John 4: 13 LB)

 

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THE HYDROLOGIST

 

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We found him sitting in an experimental shaft dug into the wall of an opal mine. It was just above the water level of an abandoned cutting that had filled water when the miner excavated for opal.  The hydrologist was reading the paper, several books lay strewn beside him.

Above the cut, the opal field shimmered under fifty-degree heat. I was gasping, longing for a cool place.  We heard about a flooded mineshaft used as a swimming pool and went in search. We found not only the pool but also a man who had found the ideal spot to while away a few hours on a Sunday. We swam and played in the water thanking the miner who excavated the mine only to lose it to the rising water table. We speculated about the fortune he might have lost

A REFUGEE

The hydrologist was a quiet man, his greeting lacked enthusiasm.  My husband, Bruce, is a hail-fellow-well-met kind of person.  Eventually the hydrologist thawed and related something of his story.  He had begun life in Europe studying hydrology and gaining a degree.  He decided to immigrate to Australia hoping for a better life, settling in the north of Western Australia.

Poor English made him a laughing stock among his Aussie work mates. He became more isolated and hurt and withdrew from society. Eventually he arrived on the opal field mining for opal.

He became the unofficial keeper of the swimming pool, cleaning up the used nappies, empty hair shampoo bottles and other debris left by careless users of the swimming pool.  The area was so degraded with rubbish that one felt sick at the sight and did not want to swim.  When the place became too bad the hydrologist would set off some dynamite and blow the pool out.  It would be clean again for a while.

A PLACE IN THE SUN

The hydrologist found many nationalities on the opal field and he no longer stood out as different.  He found a niche where he was accepted. He was able to be himself and so he quietly settled into the community. Many people seeking a different lifestyle made up the community and nobody bothered him.  He was prepared to forgo working as a hydrologist to be able to feel safe and even part of a small community where the people represented many nations of the world. Bruce felt privileged to hear the hydrologist’s story.

We were misfits ourselves, arriving on the field to mine not knowing a soul and even less about mining.  We were the laughing stock of the community. To make us more of a misfit our three co-miners were Aboriginals.  Racism on the field was alive and well, we became the butt of many jokes.

As for us, being shunned was no big deal; we would only be there a short time, then we would leave. Like many others of our ilk, we were in search of a fortune, so being a misfit was a small price to pay.

Jesus Christ was a misfit. He still is. Those of us who choose to accept him into their heart are freaks. We are prepared to accept being the odd man out because of the gift of eternal life, a richer, more satified and purposeful life, the gift of goodness, becoming a favoured child of God, to name just a few.

 

 

 

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SEVEN STEPS TO BETTER PORTRAITS

 

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A portrait preserves the person forever whether it is a photograph or a painting.  Each photographer or artist will see the subject differently and seek to underscore each trait and interpret the model.

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THE USE OF LIGHT

LIGHT AND SHADOW

1.       The photographer will highlight the lines and contours of the face by placing lights at strategic points to reveal character, beauty or emotion.
2.       Background plays a huge role in the portrait. It is an addition to light in revealing the person, their character and physical attributes, even telling a story about them.  Backgrounds need to compliment the portrait.
3.       Professional photographer, David Lazar believes it is important to connect with the subject.  Making a friend of the subject relaxes them, and they will co-operate gladly. A beautiful portrait is the result, and everyone is happy.
4.       Most photographers agree that the eyes have it. It is recognised that the eyes are the window to the soul. They reveal so much about the person and their moods. The eyes then, need to be accentuated, either by light or by accessories in some way.

5.       Emotion plays a large role in portraiture. The need to make a friend of the subject is even more important.  When the photographer displays friendship, acceptance, tells a joke, anything to bring calm and peace to the situation rather than tension the results are a successful photoshoot and portrait.

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EMOTION – JOY

 

 

FOUR STEPS TO A FULL LIFE.

Of course, when we consider Jesus Christ, there are comparisons in knowing him to the photographer taking portraits.  Although there is no physical image of Jesus, we can draw an image from the words that describe him.   We have the universe that showcases his power, genius, love and provision for all that is in the universe. The mission Jesus Christ undertook was to portray God and so Jesus became ‘the exact likeness of the unseen God. He existed before God made anything at all, he was before all else began, and it is his power that holds everything together.’(Colossians 1: 15 – 17. LB)
To see and follow the rightful God, there are four steps to take similar to that of the photographer in shooting a portrait. In following these steps, a portrait of God and his son Jesus emerges and not only tthem but a portrait of our real selves evolves.

1.       The first step is connection.  We need to connect with God through Jesus.  That calls for faith to believe he is. ‘Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God, and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him.’(Hebrews 11: 6. LB) Believing God is important.
2.       The photographer needs to consider the background.  For us, our background becomes a problem when dealing with God.  We consider we aren’t good enough and have a myriad excuses why we can’t connect with God. We feel that God is mad at us for failing to keep his standard, that he is condemning us. Our background then, is our stumbling block. When Jesus was crucified he took care of our background.  He wiped it out completely and left us new people. ‘When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand-new person inside. They are not the same any more. A new life has begun.’(2Corinthians 5: 17.)
3.       The photographer must become emotionally involved with his subject and for us to connect successfully with God, we must be passionately and intimately involved. It is a relationship that calls for commitment as in any relationship. The depth and growth of the new intimacy will bring purpose, meaning and joy of life. This is God’s plan for the human race. We must want to be one with God.

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THE EYES ARE COMPELLING

4.       Artists and photographers know that the eyes must be emphasised. We must look for Jesus and see him with other eyes, the eyes of our understanding. We  see his love for us through his death and return from the dead.  We see he chose us before we were ever a twinkle in our mother’s eye. Faith, trust, confidence in God that he will put his actions where his mouth is and not let us down adds to our insights of him. The eyes of our understanding clear when we accept Jesus and commited to him. A true portrait of God and his Son Jesus fills our vision.

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IN THE FAMILY
Jesus Christ is the true portrait of God, the Father.  God has given all he has to make us his beloved children. Jesus gave his life and all he is and had, to make us acceptable in his Father’s eyes.  The only thing left to do: we accept Jesus and transfer to him our life. We need to be able to say, ‘The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.’ (Galatians 2: 20 LB). When we have given ourselves, we are included in the portrait, and the family picture is complete.

 

 

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A MATTER OF THE WILL

 

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Over a pie, honey log and custard slice, I and my family sat in a café after church discussing the sermon we had just heard.

The question arose about revelation of truth, that moment when a camera flash went off in the mind and you thought, wow! So that’s what that means.   That particular truth is so real, you never forget it and the Christian walk becomes an afternoon rest instead a tiredness that’s hard to keep your eyes open. The position of being a child of God becomes a whole new ball game.  Each of the family had had that camera flash moment that changed our lives forever.

Bruce declared that for him the camera flash went off and he saw that he had been made good, that God had clothed him in Christ’s goodness. that he was the righteousness of God through Christ.

For me, when the camera flash went off, I blinked and said, ‘Wow! I’m always in the Will of God!’

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THE STRUGGLE

For many years I had struggled with how to know the will of God. I read, I prayed, ‘I want to know your will, Lord, please show me your will for my life. I want to do your will, walk in your will, but I just seem to do what I think is right.  How do I know I’m doing your will?  Please show me.’

I can’t remember where I was or what I was doing when the camera flash went off in my mind and across my mind flashed the thought, ‘you are always in the will of God. Ever since you became a Christian you have been in the will of God.  You are never out of it.’

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UP THE GARDEN PATH

‘Whew, that’s a bit radical,’ I thought, ‘it can’t be that simple. What about all the decisions I made that seemed to lead me up the garden path to nowhere, and what about the self defensive attitudes, and  the planks of grudges that I carry? How can I be in his will with all this baggage?

‘You are saved and forgiven, aren’t you? Your sins are taken from you as far as the east is from the west?’  The question flashed across my mind.

‘Yes, I’m saved and forgiven,’ I agreed.

‘You are a new creature in Christ and it’s no long you that lives but Christ in you, right?’ The question was a statement as well.

‘Yes, that’s right.’

‘Do you not realise that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you?’ The words echoed in my mind.

‘Ye-e-es’ I agreed, but… I felt there had to be a ‘but’ in there somewhere.

‘Well then, you are in the will of God and you can’t be out of it ever,’

‘What about the wrong decisions I had made thinking God had led me and were proven to be lemons?   Or the decisions I make to seemingly please myself?’ I argued.

‘You are still in the will of God. God has given you a free will to exercise, if you make a supposedly wrong decision you will wear the consequences.  I am not going to wave a wand and save you but use the circumstances for your growth. Never-the-less, you are still in my will, you can’t be moved.’

THE SIMPLE TRUTH

I was in awe of such a simple truth that carried such a powerful light of revelation of who I was and where I was living.  The knowledge was like a cleansing wind.  It meant I never had to pray again or worry about being in the will of God; I was there all the time.  The amazing thing was I didn’t make so many mistakes or wrong decisions because I knew I was in the will of God.  I was free to pray and serve, not having to look over my shoulder to see if I was still in his will.

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UNTIL NEXT TIME

The camera flashes of revelation were stored away again in the computers of our minds.  The pies and honey log and vanilla slice were tucked away as well.  We went our separate ways for another week.