Andrew’s Story (#585)
"I love you. I forgive you. I want to know you." Those words profoundly changed the course of Andrew's life. A stubborn agnostic, Andrew had no hope in God's existence even as he had destroyed his marriage and family with a host of addictions. But one day he opened the door just a crack to the possibility that God might be someone worth knowing and in an amazing encounter with his estranged daughter God came bounding through. Andrew tells his story in an email to Wayne that he in turn reads to Brad. It is an amazing story of how God made himself known, even in the shambles of his broken existence and how over the next few years God kept inviting him into freedom and life. The story is a painful one, and ends with Andrew losing everything except his newfound relationship with God and his courage to face life honestly even when it cost him everything. Our hope is that his story will encourage your own.
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Thank you Wayne & Brad for sharing your perspectives, banter and hearts. God has, and is, using you to help me understand the love of God which passes all understanding. Andrew’s story really touched me as God is breaking my heart for those lost. Keep it up, please.
Wayne, you said it when you were at the jail. If the gospel doesn’t work here, it doesn’t work anywhere. Maybe we just underestimate the way the gospel works, and how powerful it is.
I’m amazed that six days after the release of this podcast there are so few comments. I was on a flight home when I first heard it, and it so resonated with me that I listened to it 5 or 6 times before I got home. You see, there have been many similarities between my experience and Andrew’s, and this is the first time I have heard these things articulated outside of my own writings. Your conversation about it blessed me also, so I would like to explore some of the concepts that came up between you. You see, what God does, and how he does it is going to “defy our expectations.” 29:00
Like Andrew, one day I knew without a doubt that “I met God.” Today, years later, that whole scenario still fascinates me, but it is what has emerged since then that has ‘defied any expectation’ I have had. The way he acts and interacts is still so foreign and unfamiliar to me, I find it hard to believe until I hear a story like Andrew’s. Apparently, God’s priorities? and his Modus Operandi? are so totally different from what I have been taught they were. Could it be that they are personal, in that the way he ‘is’ to me is for me alone? (and the way he ‘is’ for Andrew is tailored only for Andrew?)
I also wonder why he seems to let so many of us get so grossly tangled up for so many years before he finds us. (Apostle Paul comes to mind) Anyway… On hearing this podcast, I was moved to re-articulate my experience in light of Andrew’s letter and Brad & Wayne’s conversation. There is sooo much in there. My journey so far has been a solitary one in that I have still not found anyone I can share all of it nose-to-nose with, so instead I have taken to writing. I had intended to post the re-articulation here, but it is quite long, so instead I’ll ask you to reply to this comment if you are interested in having it posted….
Hi Craig…not sure if there’s room or the place for your story here but just sayin’ I am interested in reading it if that’s a possibility!
I see a unique difference in those who like Craig, experience the reality of God naturally.
Brad and Wayne talked about the beast. While it is true, we loathe the beast, or so we say, the deepest truth isn’t that we must learn to control the beast. It isn’t even that we must identify as the beast. The truth folks is we are the beast. And, we don’t become saints by being un-beast-like, we become saints by allowing God to transform our view from looking at our self-reflection and seeing a beast to looking to see our reality as a reflection in God’s eyes and deciding to be like what he sees. He knows we are beasts, that is his design. The devil didn’t make us beasts. God’s plan is that we actually experience the transition from beast to saint for him. Our motive must transition from human focus to spirit focus.
When God showed me a picture of me condemning Jesus to his crucifixion, I said, “I didn’t kill him!” His response shows the depth of his expectation of our commitment to his reality rather than our own. “You do until you repent”, he said. Repent meant, and means, repudiate my self focused life and commit to refocus based solely on his guidance, daily, hourly, forever. We must learn to endure our differences between how we are prone to see and how he desires us to see, but only as long as we seriously and sincerely apply ourselves to the tasks of overcoming. It is the nature of our beast to struggle but to view these as suffering reveals a self focus that is in itself, beastly.
I’ve got to make a comment here, because we’ve run across something that is fundamental to me. It is also a realization that can be explained without using religious or bible terminology, which makes it even more liberating. It took many months for me to begin to get this, but its significance continues to blossom as I see grace unfold before me.
As I allowed God’s love to take me by the hand and revisit traumatic and devastating events from my life, we uncovered dark reactions to the circumstances: anger, retaliation, revenge, etc. Followed by, as the reactions subsided, protections, guardedness, rationalizations, blame, etc. All of these, I realized, were as if automatic responses. As we continued back into my early childhood, I remember once being so angry I threw a big rock at a little girl’s head. So I asked God, “Why would I do that? Where does that come from?”
That question began an awareness that I possess a root, deep inside my being, that has influenced every miniscule part of my life since its very beginning. The first thing I knew, was that my root is very angry. More important, though, is that my root’s origin predates any memory or recollection I might have. The root is inaccessible to me. I can prune the tree, or change its appearance, but I am helpless with respect to its root. The root is my human heritage; the root is the human condition. All of us have one.
And there’s a darkness to this root that is indescribable. We don’t know what our root is made of until it manifests. (like my angry rock) We learn very early to either cover up the manifestations, or rationalize them away, or ‘tame the beast.’ With help from the knowledge of good and evil, taming the beast becomes the game of life. We become preoccupied with the appearances: suppressing manifestations that are unacceptable, putting on a ‘good’ front. Religion comes to the rescue, but all it does is exacerbate it all, but within a group situation. The root penetrates deeper, becomes even more entangled.
I realized that my root has colored every relationship I have ever had, including my relationship with God, and my relationship with myself. Relationally challenged? (Wayne’s term) My root interacting with your root. No wonder there are disagreements and conflicts! My root has influenced every perception, every thought, every conclusion, all my mind activity. You can’t get good fruit from a bad root. So I assumed that God’s remedy would be to remove the root. Simple, right?
If you have ever tried to uproot a tree, you know it is quite an adventure. In fact, arborists will tend to cut the tree down and then grind the stump rather than removing the root. The root knot is nothing but an extreme tangle. God is more than able to remove the root. But the problem is not God, the problem is me. If God were to just uproot this, I might implode, or self-destruct! That’s when I realized the greatest miracle of all. His intent is to establish a totally new root in me that is his and mine!
So transformation is like a migration from the old root to the new one! The new is the focus. I’ve got a brand new authentic relationship with a God I never knew before. I am a brand new planting, a new root has been established, I am his own child! I’m getting to know my new, real, authentic self. The roots are not my problem – they never have been. The good news is that God is doing all the root work. He is concentrating on growing my new root, while gently, lovingly dismantling and untangling that old root. His objective is that I trust him, and it is easier for me to trust him with the new plant than uprooting the old, but I know he’s doing both on a pace that is best for me. Whatever way I can best learn to trust him.
Craig, your comments are profound and important. Profound because they are so deeply comprehended and purely personal and important because they reveal the incredible value and potential we in this generation are beginning to experience as we begin to release ourselves from the bondage of the forced constraints of official doctrines of organized religions. One of the greatest revelations in the entire Bible is that God is no respecter of persons. I do not believe I can over value that in my life. Everybody, and I mean everybody is equal. He has put in place a perfect path for each of us if he has put one in place for any of us. He doesn’t deal with “saints” any more lovingly than he deals with the one lost in his own root, to follow your insight. So what this means to me and has been a significant driver of my path is that each of us (he sees us as unique individuals) has both the right and responsibility to know him as Father, personally. The only difference in our individual pursuit of that reality is in ourselves. We have not because we ask not. Also we have not because we seek other than his will. How many of our prayers are “God give me” type prayers. We have within each of our beings the keys to unlock the secrets of his kingdom, yet we gather as a group of believers at the gate and refuse to enter.
As Andrew’s peace in spite of apparent failure shows, what we leave behind must be left behind. It is of no value. He has walked through the gate. God hasn’t asked me to be either a gatekeeper or a gate professional. I don’t believe he needs any of us to be. He wants and expects each of us to transform by honestly revealing our deepest root (ugly though it may be) to the light of his being. From there we can see his will more clearly.
Personal. How key a word is that? God is becoming personal to me now. He loves ME! He is especially fond of ME! Broken, helpless ME! “I love you, I forgive you, I want to know you!”
Until he is personal to me, I will continue to underestimate him. I will assume he is doing nothing unless I see physical evidence. I will describe him in IMpersonal terms, because that is all I know. I will believe that his real deep spiritual blessings are the confession treadmill, or the ‘power to change.’ I will be sidetracked by details and issues and appearances that are insignificant. I will be preoccupied with behaviors and manifestations (out of my root) and evaluate my spiritual state based on surface evidence. (All IMpersonal)
But God wants more than anything to be personal with me and to me. He wants me to KNOW him. He wants me to be assured that he knows the depths of me, and that the TRUE me is the new me that he has established. The old root is not me! Maybe the old root is not personal, and cannot be personal. This miracle is all over scripture. New planting, new creation, new birth, new heart, newness of life, tree of righteousness. The newness is what’s personal, in its truest sense.
It just hit me while writing this, that it was God making himself personal to me that put me on a different spiritual journey. Maybe the reason that this is so unfamiliar is because my new perceptions are personal, and before this they were not. Maybe everything God does is on the personal level, which is why the evidences remain unseen. But deep in my being, deep in my personal, I know, I trust, he is at work.
I’ve noticed that my perceptions of people around me have changed. Maybe God’s given me personal eyes? Where I once judged and condemned, instead I find myself hurting for the painful prisons others are stuck in. Wow! Personal is a good word, a good reality… (feel free to add to this new realization. I just need to soak in it for a bit)
Wayne, would you please share where Andrew goes to church? I am always looking for podcasts to listen to where Jesus is preached and our identity is unveiled! I do not have a local church that provides this for me, so I get my teaching by listening to your podcasts and others!
Thank you so much!
P.S. I love Andrew’s story… his honesty and his transparency! Thank you for sharing!!
I’m sorry, Shannon, but I have no idea where Andrew attends… Glad you enjoyed his story.
My first reaction to the three statements his daughter made was: How Trinitarian!
It is our Daddy’s heart to love us (“I love you”). It is Jesus, our Brother’s aim to spread forgiveness (“I forgive you”). And it is the Spirit’s gift to know the Father & the Son (“I want to know you”).
How wonderful to be part of the Divine Dance, the Perichoresis!