April 30, 2015
So Jessica and I were given the task at the beginning of the week to ask God what our Family Mission Statement would be. We thought about it each day and could not think of anything really solid. We searched for bible verses that described our freedom in Christ and how He has washed away our sin but nothing real stood out that we felt the Holy Spirit was telling us “YES”.
On Friday morning we were tasked with leading a devotional or giving our testimony to the class. Right away we already knew what it would be, testimony! We knew that God desired for us to be real, no matter how much I didn’t want to describe my failures, my sins, once again to a group of people. We knew that we are here to be a testament of His gentleness, His amazing grace, and His love. When Friday morning rolled around I felt sick to my stomach and wanted to just curl up in a ball on the bed, hid under a rock and/or call in sick. I didn’t want to stand in front of a group of people, that appear to have it all together and tell them that we are a broken family and I am at fault. Tell them that Jessica had every right to divorce me and God had every right to kill me but instead God has shown me love, forgiveness, mercy, grace and once again intrusted me with his beautiful daughter Jessica Allen. But not only has he given Jessica the strength to forgive me but he has blessed us with this wonderful opportunity in one of the most beautiful places in the world. God is so loving and gentle! So by His strength alone did I stand up in front of the class with my beautiful bride by my side and we told our story. 90 minutes later, when we finished, I don’t think that there was a dry eye in the audience and they prayed over us. I wish at that point I could say, I felt God’s presence and comfort and we felt closer to our classmates but that was simply not true. The moment it was complete I felt attacked, a true testament to the existence of a true advisory to the cross, one who “…prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. Why did I say it all? Why did I tell them anything? What are they thinking of me? Will they think of me as disgusting? Why are they not talking to me now? In a mater of seconds these thoughts flooded my mind and followed me throughout the day robbing me of my joy in Christ. I wanted to sleep, I wanted to fall into a depression, I wanted to go back to California.
Later that afternoon we had to attend a one-on-one with Russ and Dorie (R&D), our amazing marriage counselors that have been married for 69 years. When we walked in we immediately confessed that our joy had been robbed that day and terrible thoughts flooded our minds, mine specifically. With wise counsel they filled us with hope and had us close our eyes and picture our self’s back in the tent telling our story. They asked if we could see Jesus in the room? At first I closed my eyes and thought how crazy it was to be doing this. How could this help? But as I listened to R&D speak softly with love I could imagine Jesus in a chair that separated Jessica and me. During the whole testimony I thought that the chair between Jessica and I was annoying, keeping Jessica and I from holding or touching each other. But now I saw Jesus sitting in it holding Jessica and I, with a gentle hand on the small of our backs. A hand that was pierced for my sins, a hand that was pierced because of the pain that I caused, not only Him but my family, my extended family and friends. He was holding us, connecting us and he had the biggest smile on his face. To my surprise, Jessica spoke first and said she saw him in the same location that I saw him and he was doing the same exact thing. At this point he spoke and all I could hear him say is “with them I am well pleased, I am well please”. After Jesus spoke I saw a demon type figure in front of us, one that danced and mocked me talking. Telling me that I was not doing anything by telling these people my sin, I was only making a joke of myself but Jesus immediately rebuked him and literately stepped on him and once again said “with them I am well please”. Immediately I started to tear up because I just don’t understand how he can be pleased with me? How can he love us so much?
Coming back from our amazing, holy spirit led one-on-one time with R&D, Jessica said that all week she has pictured the word victory in her head. Likewise, I had pictured a word in my head all week, which is freedom. We discussed it throughout Friday evening and into Saturday. On Saturday afternoon Jessica proclaimed while we were doing some work for Cavelle, “why don’t we have victory as our Family Mission Statement?”. It was like a light bulb went off in both our heads. Victory over the sin that has wrecked our family and freedom from the past. Putting some more thought into we had a revelation and came up with the idea of VICTORY as an acronym.
Victory is taking on the real you, the real you in Christ Jesus. Victory is living in true freedom from the past. Victory is not believing the lie of what the world tells you that you need to be, or need to say, or need to do. Victory is knowing that you’re truly loved by a holy God and you are perfectly and wonderfully made. Victory is having courage far greater then any courage found on the battle field and coming out of the darkness and into the light and proclaiming that this is who I am, this is my sin, this is me, I need help, I need someone to bear my sin, I need Christ. Victory is saying yes to Jesus when everything in your earthly body wants to say no. Victory is saying I will choose reconciliation when the World says you should choose divorce. Victory is making Him the Lord of your life and ceasing to rely on your own efforts. Victory is giving up all for him.
So to answer the questions, why did I say it all, why did I tell them anything; it is because Jessica and I have chosen to live in VICTORY. To let others know the greatness of God’s love, God’s gentleness, God’s grace and God’s amazing healing power. To know that God has a greater plan and if our story leads to the freedom and victory for one person or one couple then His plan was achieved. To address the questions of what are they thinking of me, will they think of me as disgusting, why are they not talking to me now; it simply doesn’t matter because in VICTORY God has washed me white as snow and to this World I will always fail and I will never measure up but to him I am His son and Jessica is his daughter and He is well pleased.
In closing, I don’t think that Jessica and I have made it through the storm nor have we one the war. We still have struggles each day but each day we must wake up and chose to live in VICTORY. Victory knowing that He will pull us through. Victory knowing that no mater what the World says to us, our strength is found in Him and Him alone. So each day we do as Paul did and “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
– Todd Elrod