September 28, 2015

So Jessica and I have not written since we have returned home from YWAM and for that we are extremely sorry. As you can imagine after coming back home after 6 months it has been crazy. We have tried to meet with as many people as we can to tell them about our VICTORY in Christ but there is not enough time in the day with jobs and two crazy little girls to talk to everyone that has walked with us and shown us love and support during this past year. Since returning home and reflecting on the amazing journey that the Lord blessed our family with, I have had time to think about His amazing love for our family and things that He revealed to me during our time away. While He revealed many things to me, I would say that without a shadow of a doubt the most important topic I could pass on is who I am in Christ!

My whole life I have always felt like I need to achieve to be loved, be the best student, be the best athlete, be the best soldier and be the best provider and finally then I would be praised, appreciated and then, most importantly, loved. But when it comes to being a Christian and following Christ I could never win. By the law I could never be good enough and by my sinful nature I was never going to be good enough. I was in a perpetual cycle of struggle where I sin, confess, repent, try harder, sin, confess, repent and try harder, losing hope after every failure, believing that after every failure my heavenly Father would be looking down on me with a disgusted or ashamed face. If I could just imagine that God would be looking down on me that was a plus because at times I felt that I failed so miserably that He turned His back on me and was walking away. But thanks to the amazing work of God the Lord has revealed a fundamental failure in my thinking that has prevented me from breaking free of my chains of bondage that have held me for years. I have for so many years failed to realize God’s amazing love.

The fundamental failure in my way of thinking over the years is that I never have truly known or understood God’s love. I typically could say, “How can the God of the universe ever love me? I am filthy and wretched”. I tend to try and relate God’s love to my earthly father’s love and while he is a good man he has his shortcomings. So my unbelief and inability to understand God’s love has bound me to a wall with chains, keeping me from breaking free from my sin and living in complete VICTORY.

Every time I strive to succeed and over come my sin and break free from my chains, I inevitably fail. When I fail, I picture a God that shakes His head in disappointment and walks away in disgust only to return to see me fail again. I picture myself as an orphan and a neglected son. Because I picture myself as an orphan, I have deep-seated roots of abandonment and lack of trust for the Father, constantly feeling unwanted and not valued. I typically will project my rejection onto others and fear getting close to people in fear of that rejection. Often I expect leaders to abandon me or reject me so I typically am standoffish and distant. As an orphan I typically just rely on myself to get the job done and my way is the only right way.

But my distorted view of God’s love doesn’t stop there. Typically as I sit in self pity and as I would believe the God of the universe walks away from me, I well up with anger, get to my feet, dry my eyes and think to myself, if I try harder, if I really focus this time and put my mind to it, I will succeed like in other areas of my life. And when I succeed, the God of the universe will return and He can finally say to me that He is proud of me and with me He is well pleased. I take on this mentality of a slave – a controlled son. But slaves have heard of the Father but lack any intimacy. I keep Him at a distance because of a lack of my dignity, feelings illegitimacy and shame. I think that wrong actions or failure are going to bring down condemnation from the Father and speak to an identity that “I am bad”. As a slave, I have difficulty receiving gifts; I believe that I have no right to feel, to personal needs and no right to an inheritance that God has promised me as a child of God. I feel that righteousness is an achievement. Finally, once again I depend only on myself because others’ successes are a threat to my own status.

So because of my fundamental failure to understand who I am in the Lord, I tend to chain myself in a darkened prison and remain there so the light of the Lord will not shine. And in that prison I perpetually sin, confess, repent, try harder, sin, confess, repent and try harder not going anywhere but in vain continuously pulling at the bars that imprison me.

But over the course of this past year God has revealed to me that I am not an orphan or a slave, but in fact a beautiful child of the perfect and powerful God of this universe. When I deserved divorce, he showed me grace and restored my marriage. When I quit my job, He revealed to us Family DTS in Kona, Hawaii. When people said that we were too broken to go to YWAM, He spoke to Brian and Tara, the Family DTS leaders, and they accepted us with open arms. When we didn’t have the money to pay for the DTS, He provided the funds. When people told us that we need 6 months to a year of intense counseling to restore our marriage, He provided Russ and Dorie, an amazing couple that had been married for 70 years, to council us through the hard times, three times a week. When we thought we would be alone on Kona, Hawaii, He provided us with 13 amazing families that walked beside us daily. When we thought that we could not make it through the lies of the enemy, He showed us the light. When I thought that I couldn’t survive, He called me a warrior in Judges 6:12. When the enemy attacked Jessica, He provided the full power of the Holy Spirit and tools to defeat him. When the world would say that our marriage would not survive, He provided us with a testimony that proves the world wrong and that Christ has truly won over the power of the enemy and he truly loves me.

So while so undeserving of love and in the midst of my darkest failure, the God of the universe chose to reach down and bless me so richly. I refuse to identify myself as an orphan or a slave any more and recognize that God is love. Not the love that today’s world has watered down to the point were it can be used in the same sentence as a reality tv show but God’s love is a real love, selfless, sacrificial, unconditional and perfect love that only He can give. His love is not dependent on my success or failures, His love is not dependent on my obedience or disobedience and his love is not dependent on me at all, but he loves me because he loves me because he loves loves because he loves me. So I will stop calling myself filth and wretched because to him I am perfect, precious and priceless. And in that prison where I perpetually sin, confess, repent, try harder, sin, confess, repent and try harder not going anywhere but in vain continuously pulling at the bars that imprison me, He is standing behind me waiting for me to stop trying to pull at the bars as if I can break them myself but turn around so He can reveal to me that there are no bars and chains to bind me. He removed them and He has not walked away and He will never look at me in disgust but always has been wait for me with arms wide open. He truly does love us all!

Source: Todd and Jessica Elrod