Jack Watts’ weekly column is aimed at helping those who have been wounded, including those who have been abused by the church. If you are in pain—or if someone you know is in pain—you will find real comfort, wisdom, and many answers right here. Based on his book, Recovering from Religious Abuse, published by Simon & Schuster, Jack will teach you the value of working the “11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom.” Remember, recovery is a process—not a destination. The answers are simple but not always easy. Look to the Lord and allow His Spirit to heal you.
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing—C. S. Lewis
My gloominess has lifted—a darkness in my soul
Permitted by You to refine my character.
My time of despair has purged me from my foolish ways,
Making me more like the person I’m supposed to be—
The person I’ve always wanted to be, but have never become—
Not on the inside where it counts.
In the midst of my despair,
When at night I longed for the day,
And in the daytime desired for it to be evening,
When sorrows made it difficult to breathe,
You were always there beside me,
Even when I was certain You were not.
With fear relentlessly enervating my resolve,
You continued to transform me
Into the person You desired me to be.
Ever mindful of my frailties and weaknesses,
You relentlessly purged, pruned and cleansed.
Then, one day, as I waited for my gloom to return,
Which had become my daily portion of life,
It was gone, vanishing like it had never been there,
Leaving me stronger, more resilient, and far wiser.
My purposefulness returned to me, along with my smile.
Now, free from the debilitating emotions
That have tormented me for so long,
I’m free to embrace what life offers
With renewed enthusiasm, as I smile at the future.
For faith to have any lasting impact upon you or others, it must be robust—filled with confidence that God is in charge and knows what He is doing. Your prayer life is essential to renewing your mind.
Everyone wants his or her prayers to be answered. That’s no surprise, but many people—perhaps most—really don’t want what God wants. He wants to develop a deep relationship with each of His children, which most rarely even consider. They just want what they want and for God to grant their wishes. It’s as simple as that,
When their demands are not met, they become angry with God for not coming through for them, never understanding His purpose, which is fundamental change and not a Divine bailout. You have to do the work necessary for anything worthwhile before you achieve the success you desire. For example:
- If you want to be a scholar, you have to read vociferously.
- If you want to be an athlete, you have to exercise constantly.
- If you want to have a solid relationship with God, you have to become an obedient child—not a demanding, obtuse one.
You must leave your complexities at the door, humble yourself, and believe God is everything He says that He is, which isn’t easy for most people. It’s much more natural to try and figure things out for yourself, make your own decisions, and assume that God will “rubber stamp” your efforts.
This is what most believers do, and they are surprised when they have no peace, no joy, and no fulfillment in life. They just don’t get it. Instead, they try to make God conform to their image of what they want Him to be, which will never happen.
We are the ones who have to change—not Him. All you have to do is become like a little child—one who has complete reliance upon a loving, benevolent Father. It doesn’t get any simpler or more complex than this. If your prayers aren’t being answered, don’t become verbose. Become simple instead, but remember, God is almighty and you are not. What He wants from you more than anything else is for you to get to know Him as He is—not as you wish Him to be.