Writing is therapeutic, they say, and I’ve certainly found that to be true in my own life. Unquestionably, writing in my journals and blogs have had positive effects on my mental and emotional health over the years. For a deep and introvert person, it was a kind of self-expression that I greatly needed — a releasing of my pent-up thoughts and emotions. It was freedom to a certain extent.
But as I grew in my faith, and as my nature is changed by the Holy Spirit, writing has become much more than a kind of therapy for me, much more than a form of self-expression, and much more than just a way I use to serve God. For writing has also become a very effective process that I use to deal with my many personal issues, particularly spiritual and emotional issues.
Because I find that writing about these matters, especially in the presence of the Holy Spirit, changes my soul. In leaps and bounds.
As I mentioned in my post two weeks ago, at first I only wanted to write expository articles for this website. However, God has shown me later that I also need to write Bible studies, and particularly, personal essays like this one. Because even though I did not want to talk much about myself anymore (it is a difficult and time-consuming task, digging into the depths of my mind and emotions), I’ve understood the need for personal essays. They are needed to bring balance to my teachings — as grace-filled illustrations of Biblical truths.
Recently, another reason became clear to me why God wants me to write personal essays. A Bible-school class I’ve just finished talks about the baggages people have — baggages that prevent them from reaching their full potential, especially as leaders. Burdens of the past, these baggages are called.
They come in different forms. Emotional baggages include guilt (e.g., because of some personal moral failure), shame (e.g., because of some unmet expectations), anger, and bitterness. Spiritual baggages include doubts and questions about God, and the abuses of ministers one had experienced. And disability baggages include physical handicaps, and social and economic disadvantages, like poor education.
I am writing personal essays for Swordsman of the Word, not only to bring balance to my teachings, but also as a way for me to overcome my own burdens of the past — those that still linger, and those that are rooted deeply that they still affect me even now. (Of course, I won’t share everything that I’ll write on these matters; some things are just too personal to share with others, much less on a website.) Yes, with the help of the power of the Holy Spirit, and using the light of God’s Word, I will write to bring understanding, forgiveness, and deliverance to these dark areas of my life and soul. And in that process, as you share it with me, I hope that you’ll find your own freedom too, my friends.
“The Lord Yahweh’s Spirit is on me, because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of Yahweh’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2 WEB).
I love God, and I’ve given him my life for him to shape and to use, submitting myself to his discipline and training. However, like in the Old Testament laws regarding sacrificial offerings, it is my responsibility to make sure that this gift of life I’ve offered him is healthy and unblemished — free of any hindering baggages — so that God will receive the highest honor when he can use me to the full.
A Recurrent Theme: Overcoming
As this essay waited in line as a rough draft, more of the details of God’s plan for this website crystallized in my mind. And one of those details is this: My personal essays will have this special and recurrent theme, and that is overcoming. To overcome not just my burdens of the past, but also my old sinful nature that continues to struggle against my new self in Christ. And to overcome also my difficult circumstances — to overcome the world.
You do want the same thing for yourself, don’t you, my friends? To overcome? And so let us journey together. I will guide you as the Holy Spirit guides me.
“What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things?
“Who could bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Even as it is written, ‘For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’
“No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:31-37 WEB).
Indeed, God’s Word promises us victory. The question now is, how am I going to proceed with this journey? What exactly is my plan of action? Because even though the Holy Spirit is my guide, I still need starting points for my writing. Matters of the soul are delicate and dangerous matters that I dare not begin without reliable help.
I own a special edition of the Bible called The Life Recovery Bible (copyright 1998 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.) It uses the New Living Translation. To quote its User’s Guide:
The Holy Bible is a book about recovery. It records how the world began and how God created it to be good. Then it tells us about the beginning of sin — about the first time people decided to reject God’s plan. It spells out the fatal consequences that result from rejecting God’s program. But the Bible doesn’t leave us in despair. It reveals a plan for recovery and the source of the power to accomplish it. It provides us with the only pathway to wholeness — God’s program for reconciliation and healing.
Each feature in The Life Recovery Bible leads readers to the powerful resources for recovery found in in the Holy Scriptures….
This Bible will serve as the starting points for my “overcoming essays” — this is the plan. We won’t be following a life-recovery program, but with the Holy Spirit as my guide, I will study this Bible and write essays based on it.
And mind you, writing these “overcoming essays” will be hard, to say the least. I can only imagine the mental and emotional turmoil I’ll experience as I put my life under the microscope. But I’m willing to do it, yes, I’m willing to do it. For myself. For you. And for God. And my reason for this is… it’s because I love God.
Surrender Means Victory
One thing about this journey of overcoming that we’re going to take is that, though I need God’s guidance on how to lead you and where to walk, I already know what it’s going to be like. And that is simply because I’ve been walking this journey for years. Yes, I still have many struggles in my life I have to vanquish, but I’ve also already surmounted many of them — so that I am judged ready by God to take others with me.
My friends, this journey of victory and freedom is actually a journey of surrender. Surrendering to God. Ourselves. Our lives. Our hopes. Our dreams. Our entire being.
This is the great Christian paradox. You might think that to overcome is to strive, to work so hard, but if you are willing to accept a few basic truths about God, then you’ll see that surrendering to him to achieve victory actually makes perfect sense.
In the second chapter of the book Experiencing God by Blackaby and King (copyright 1994 by Broadman & Holman Publishers, all rights reserved), entitled Knowing God’s Nature, we can find the following:
GOD’S NATURE AND HIS WILL
- God is love: His will is always best.
- God is all-knowing: His directions are always right.
- God is all-powerful: He can enable you to accomplish His will.
If you accept that God is love (1 John 4:16), then you’ll realize that his plans for you are always best, no matter your circumstances. Good or bad; happy or sad; God loves you and only wants to give you the best of things. You’ll also realize that his commandments, though restrictive, are for your own good.
If you accept that God is all-knowing, then you’ll understand that his guidance for your life is always correct. Nothing surprises him. He already knows every step of your journey — past, present, and future — and he has also taken into consideration every factor that might affect you.
And if you accept that God is all-powerful, then you’ll know that he can empower you to carry out his will. He who had created the world out of nothing can certainly help you achieve his purposes for you.
Taking all these truths together then, that God is love and that he is all-knowing and all-powerful, you can see that it’s logical that we make him the master of our lives.
There are three things here that I would like to clarify and emphasize.
First, your view of victory and greatness may not be the same as God’s view of them. In God’s Kingdom, spiritual success is much more important than material success (Proverbs 8:12-21), and he commends according to obedience and faithfulness, not according to outcome (Matthew 25:14-30). Also, to him greatness means being a servant to all (Matthew 20:25-28).
In practical terms, this may mean that your goals of affluence and recognition may take a long time in coming. You may also endure a season of being considered a failure by the world as you triumph in the spiritual realm.
Second, God’s ways and his thoughts are not like ours, and so expect that as you follow him, there will be many things you won’t understand. God said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways…. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 WEB).
And third, surrendering to God is a long process. As I’ve said, it’s a journey. It begins with knowing things about God. Then, if you are willing, you repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. If you do this, you become a child of God. What follows afterward is a (long) period where you get to know God more and learn to trust in him. Only then, when you trust him enough, that can you start giving him control of your life — in increasing measure.
I will leave you all with this passage from the Scriptures, a promise to those who desire to take this journey of overcoming:
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. Whoever loves the Father also loves the child who is born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. For this is loving God, that we keep his commandments.
“His commandments are not grievous. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:1-5 WEB).
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