Several years ago, a wild fire consumed tens of thousands of acres of timber and homes threatening Colorado Springs leaving charred ruins and blackening the Rockies’ Front Range. Recently the preeminent writer, counselor and teacher Dr. Dan Allender looked out a restaurant window at the lush, richly green hills that had been ashes. He describes his reaction to the stunning restoration. Then he heard God asking: Do you believe that (I) God can restore hearts in the same way?
Well? What do you feel? Not just think, but feel? Can God restore hearts in that magnitude and at such a drastic measure?
The story and conversation came at a good time for me. I had just returned from a few hours with people I hadn’t seen for 30-40-50 years. My soul was pre-occupied during my private and inner time at that event calculating who I was when they knew me decades ago.
Processing the event has taken several days. I was feeling something like homesickness, though there was nothing I wanted to return to. Some of the feelings didn’t make sense. I missed the people who haven’t been part of my life most of my life. I won’t try to connect the dots for you—tedium!! The gut feeling has been about restoration—greening of a hillside.
This restoration process is an integration of several elements to move us toward wholeness away from fragmentation. With the whirlpool of thoughts and a strange gut feeling the conversation of Dan Allender and John Eldredge produced for me the components of the maturing process and the process that we daily invite which produces happiness, health and productivity.
Your most effective ministry grows out of fragments of your story. Our sensitivity to pain, failure and hesitation in others grows out of your own experiences. That is not grass greening on the hill it is authenticity. Our story cannot be ignored or surgically removed. We need to run it through the following:
Those two words define therapy. We learn specifically what happened in our story and why we see things as we do and react/respond to other people and events as we do. We need to know what really happened and the long term result. A therapist helps us by asking questions that we would avoid. Christians call these avoidance habits or refusal to “go there” strongholds.
- INNER HEALING
Allender reminds us that clarity and insight are not enough. Clarity and understanding bring clarity and understanding, but usually we need God’s direct healing. In recent days, Jesus revealed the reasons for the “why” and then has met me in the decisive and traumatic moments.
Inner healing is when Jesus wants to heal us and invites us to go with Him to the moment or events that shaped our lives. For example, I experienced a trauma at seven. Restoration—Jesus went with me to that event and experienced the trauma with me when I was seven years old. My wholeness as an adult becomes a greater possibility as result and is blocked if the healing of that experience does not happen.
- SPIRITUAL WARFARE
When just learning to talk, one of our grandkids said, “What is that s’male?” Carole and I still use that word. There are times I ask the question because my inner world is smelling like burning rubbish or burnt forests. Our enemy wants to drag us back to the old days and old ways with bullying and accusations. We think restoration is too much to expect so we try to build coping mechanisms or managing techniques—keep the secret, repress the hurt and miss all the clues what the smell is or who is igniting the twigs that will burn us again.
Experiencing forgiveness and inner healing must take place or the “fire” is always on the verge of bursting out of control into a wild fire.
This week I’ve been reminded of the nature of spiritual warfare. It is less noisy that we expect. The work of an army is to kill things and break things with missiles, bombs, automatic rifles and lethal stuff like that. Spiritual warfare is as lethal, but a lot quieter. Our enemy is a guerrilla and sniper. Know this: not every thought that comes into your head comes from God or even with His permission. You wage spiritual war by placing peace at the door of your mind and empowering peace to check credentials. Peace asks each thought—WHERE IS THIS GOING? If I allow it where will it take me?
Get the picture: Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Can you see yourself being carried in the mouth of this beast into his lair where you are consumed? We have been given weapons of warfare, but these practices are helpful.
- Ask “What am I thinking?”
- Decide: I’ve been down this road before—I’m not going to continue this destructive thinking. “STOP IT!
- Verbalize: Satan, take a hike. I’m not interested in your enticement. Self-refocus on those things that will produce positive and healthy thoughts and outcomes.
Your default time zone is the future. The constant asking if what you are doing and what you are thinking will prepare you to live outrageously happy and healthy beginning in the next few minutes and stretching into the future. The greatest battle is where we plan to live—yesterday or today forward. Because your story is important: clarity, inner healing, fighting for your tomorrows are restoration tools.
God’s goal for you is restoration that leads to abundant life.
©2015 D. Dean Benton http://www.bentonministries.com/