I have always wanted to write a book, even before I had become an addict. I use to sit and read 5 to 7 books a week dreaming of writing the great American novel. Years later, after my recovery, this dream reemerged, but this time I knew what I wanted to write and why. I wanted to tell the story of my life, why I became an addict, and most importantly how God saved me. I wanted and addict to know how they can achieve sobriety and let the families of an addict know what their loved one is going through. Why they can’t “just quit”.
About a month ago, God gave me the outline for this book. Please, keep in mind that I have no idea on how to write a book (or blog for that matter), but there it was all laid out for me all I had to do was recall my life. With chapters one and two completed, and receiving good reviews from a few family members that I had allowed to read it, I plunged into chapter three completely oblivious to what was about to happen.
Three or four weeks prior to this, I had prayed for God to burn up anything in me that was not of him. Believe me, I had searched myself thinking that there wasn’t much left in me that was me and not of him. I had thought that when I did my fourth, fifth, and ninth steps with my sponsor, that I had performed a thorough inventory. What I discovered is that sometimes, God will blind us to things in our past until a later date when we are able to handle it better. And this is what happened to me.
After writing the third chapter, I reread it and the shame I felt from the decisions and actions that I had made early in life, washed over me like a tsunami. I had buried those feelings of hurt, anger, and shame that brought out arrogance, pride, selfishness, and self-centerness so deep that I had forgotten them. But God knew, and He knew it was time for me to deal with it.
The first couple of days was hard. Knowing God like I do now, and seeing my sinful past had me beating myself up as to how worthless I was. If that wasn’t bad enough, the devil joined in on the party, and by the time I went to church that weekend I felt as though I had been skinned alive and every nerve was exposed. If you even looked at me wrong, I started believing that you didn’t like me and was against me. Knowing this wasn’t right, I begin to pray earnestly 1. I begin to ask God for help, and 2. To show me what I was supposed to learn from this. Being a good, good Father He responded immediately, but there was still something else I was supposed to gain from this. Knowing I needed additional help, God showed me my niece and nephew. They have a beautiful home and I love spending time with them. God said “retreat”. Not retreat as in back away from a battle, but retreat as in refresh myself, and turning to these two (who BTW are great followers in Christ) was exactly what I needed.
While there I was able to calm my mind and even receive the messages God was providing. One of those messages was a daily devotional I receive in my email and on this day it was an excerpt from Max Lucado’s Just like Jesus devotional. It was titled Forgiving: With Towel and Basin and he had an image of an ocean and written on it was ‘He offered Mercy before they even sought it’. For this devotional Mr. Lucado had written about the last supper taken from John 13:1-5 NIV
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
If you have ever read any of Max Lucado’s writings, you know what a great story teller he is. He begins by reminding us that Jesus did this as an example for us and quotes John 13: 14-15, and then he sets the scene. For the Jewish community, this was the Passover and guests had traveled far and wide to attend. They were hot, dirty, and tired, but they had made it to Jerusalem. In the upper room where Jesus and the disciples were to celebrate their meal a towel hung on the wall, and on the floor sit a pitcher and basin. He points out that having one’s feet washed would have been refreshing and that anyone of the disciples could have volunteered for the job, but they didn’t. He tells us that in Jesus’s day, the washing of feet was reserved for the lowest of lowest servants, but here was the creator of the universe, the one who’s fingers carved out mountains, and hands that shaped the stars, the one who was about to endure the worst (abandonment, betrayal, beating beyond human comprehension, and crucifixion) that stood up and kneeling before each disciple, one by one, began to wash one grimy foot after another. Just hours before his death, knowing what each one of them was about to do, he wanted more than anything for them to know how much he loves them. Max tells us that more than washing dirt from their feet, he was removing doubt. He knew that Peter was going to deny knowing him, and more than that he knew Judas was going to betray him, but he washed their feet because he loves them. He knew that by morning they would bury their heads in their hands in shame and look down at their feet and he wanted them to remember what he had done for them. That they were still clean, see Jesus forgave them before they even asked. (http://www.faithgateway.com/forgiving-towel-basin, 2016)
I knew this message was for me, and sitting on my niece’s sofa, I closed my eyes and began to pray. I saw Jesus trying to wash my feet, and like Peter I cried out I’m not worthy! And what he told me was similar to what he told Peter “and you never will be unless I wash you”. I had long forgiven the people who had hurt me, but I had never forgiven myself for the things I had done. That night as I lay in bed, I thought of my past shame and of the daily devotional, then I began to feel Jesus wash my feet. I could accept it this time, knowing that this is how it is done. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 Now, whenever I begin to think that I’m not worthy, I remember who I am and how I became a child of the most high God (washed in the blood).
If you are carrying around past shame and regret, remember Jesus loves you to the point of death. He has washed you in his blood making you worthy, and a child of the most high God. Receive his gift of mercy!