Terrified

My wife turned a significant age yesterday.

It’s a reminder of our mortality.

I was terrified the day we met. Knowing, without a doubt, she could never love someone like me.

I was terrified the day I realized I could never live without her. Knowing she’d be better off without me.

I was terrified the moment I asked her to marry me. Everything inside me told me I was crazy to even ask.

I was terrified as I saw her walking toward in that beautiful white dress, shaking uncontrollably. What was she thinking? This couldn’t be real.

I hide it well but terror has been my constant companion.

Through four children, potty training, baptisms, teen years and empty nests, it has caused me to treat her as an enemy, a threat, a distant unknown, my nemesis.

She is none of those things.

I just wanted it in writing to remind myself. I don’t want to waste another second that I have with her.

Meet My Need

We hear the statistics on divorce, abuse, suicide.  Some of which I believe is augmented to support a certain message.

I’ll stop right here to state that yes there is a huge problem with these three areas.  Problems that require our prayers, our focus, our pursuit of God – the only one with power to heal.

I just question the use of data that is outdated, truncated and obtained by dubious methods.

For example, the statistic has been thrown around for years that fifty per cent of all marriages end in divorce.  When a more accurate depiction would be seen through the statistic that ninety-five per cent of all marriages end in either divorce, suicide, abuse or apathy.

A statistic I just now made up.

But I come with, not just made up statistics and seemingly, overwhelmingly hopeless agendas.  I come with a message no one wants to hear and very few will take to heart even if they hear it.

Do you really want to see your marriage healed?  Do you really want to find hope and purpose to go on living?  Do you really want to end the cycles of sexual bondage, addiction and despair?

Good!

Now you have a choice.

We are designed for two things and two things only.

Number one is that we are designed, hard-wired, programmed to be complete, fully human, whole and healed in a relationship with God Almighty.  And that relationship is ONLY possible because Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead.

If I look to any…

I’m going to say it again.

If I look to ANY human, earthly, physical, mental, spiritual resource, other than the King of Kings, Jehovah Jireh (look it up), I will lack, I will starve, I will be ruined and disappointed.

That includes my wife, my parents, my church, my work.

They cannot meet my needs.

The second truth of our design is this, we are designed to meet the needs of others.

“Whoa, wait!  You just said…”

Our perspective is SOOOOO screwed up.  We expect others to meet our needs, deep, spiritual, emotional, mental NEEDS and ignore God.  Then bypass the whole reason for us being placed on this planet.

If the only thing God wanted was a relationship with us; our praise, worship, adoration, I would argue that He would’ve been better served keeping is with Him.  But, in the act of becoming His fingers and hands, His arms and feet and heart, we truly become “like” Him, truly become “created in His image.”

Does your life suck?  Your marriage?  Your job?  Your school?  Your family?

Flip it.  Approach God as the only thing that can complete you.  Ask Him to meet your needs for love, purpose, hope, understanding, every need you have.  And then go into your day looking to meet the needs of others, a divine laying down of your life for those around you.

Guaranteed you won’t get it right.  Without a doubt you will still struggle, problems will still raise their ugly faces, life will still occur.  But don’t give up.

Give it a day and peace will be there too.  Give it a week, and joy will be easier to find.  Give it a month and the adventure begins.  Give it a year and you’ll never be the same.  Give it your life…

Well I’m still waiting on that one.

But I know it’s got to be better than the suckiness of waiting for everyone to meet my needs.

Remember

“I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time. All the things I’ve done and how it’s been…” Poems and Prayers and Promises (John Denver)

I remember as a small child going for hikes in the woods around the farm where we lived. I would get lost but was never afraid. I knew I’d find home.

I remember as a teenager being so angry, so lost, so afraid and so alone. I told God I didn’t believe and would rather serve satan than him.

I remember being trapped in my bed as demons tore at me, unable to scream, unable to move.

I remember the freedom and peace and joy I felt when I gave my heart, my life to Jesus.

I remember telling him over and over that he could do whatever he wanted with me.

I remember yelling at him, rejecting his commands. Medicating the pain he wanted to heal and never again saying he could do what he wanted with me.

I remember being rejected in love over and over. Coming to believe no one could.

I remember meeting her. Seeing her smile. Knowing I was done. Knowing she would never love me and I would never stop loving her.

I remember, despite my inner protests, she said ‘yes’. And then, ‘I do’.

I remember children and fighting and leaving and coming home and more children and fighting and leaving and coming home. And being so, so tired.

And I remember falling on my face and asking God to forgive me and help me with the mess I’d made.

And I remember healing and joy and love.

So much love.

And yes, though I got lost, God brought me home again.

Worlds Collide

She would rather not be noticed by anyone. She doesn’t seek accolades, recognition, or anything beyond the knowledge that she serves. She is so uncomfortable with eyes focusing on her that she avoids the front of a room.

He is not the same.

He thinks it is nice to be noticed but he doesn’t care if you see him or not. He will speak out in a crowd (sometimes quite loudly) without thought for whether the crowd is bothered by him or not. He intentionally seeks the front because that is where the “action” is.

And that is just one of the issues that has made our married life so interesting. She still cringes every time I open my mouth. It bothers her. I would rather speak out, be involved, play the game, than sit in the bleachers.

We drive each other crazy.

I hear a lot today about people separating because they have issues. “I just need time to myself so I can work on me.” I will probably offend some counsellors or psychiatrists, but I disagree with this. First of all, I don’t see it in scripture. Second, my experience has taught me that if left to myself, I won’t change. The issues I really struggle with can be buried, medicated, glossed over in every environment except marriage.

I look back over my life sometimes and think how good a Christian I seemed to be before I got married. I think of the evil that has come out over the years we’ve shared together, and I do mean evil, wicked, selfish sin. I would never have grown past myself without this woman that challenges everything I say, every thought I hold dear. Some people, some Christians, over the years have said we shouldn’t have to deal with the pain the other one has caused. No one should have to put up with someone acting that way. But God was there and we stayed together.

Proverbs talks about “Iron sharpening iron.” And we think that is some interesting metaphor for exhorting one another. But, it is actually talking about two rough, brittle pieces of metal that smash into each other, knocking off the dull places, the burs and the rusted spots. It is talking about friction that heats the metal, that goes against the expected norms.

Seinfeld fans will remember the episode when George didn’t want his girlfriend hanging out with his friends. “Worlds collide,” he shouted. But that is marriage, that is friendship.

That is life.

A Primal Scream

I see teen suicide, unwanted, unmarried pregnancies, abuse, loss, addiction, homosexuality up close and with all their realities.  I see marriages die all too often in the ravages of pornography, busyness, neglect, fear.  I see the cries of the children, the broken hearts of the parents, the families and lives that will never, ever be whole again.  And from inside me comes a scream, visceral, angry, hated and hating, yet born out of love.

“STOP”

“Please stop hurting each other.  Please stop hurting yourselves.  Please just listen and love.  Come to me and I can heal you.  Come to me and let me ease your pain.  Let me assure you of my love, my blessing, the promises I have for you.”  Then I realize that the scream I hear, that is inside me, is the voice of my Lord, my Savior.  And, he is not just speaking to others, He is speaking to me.  He speaks against the lies of false freedom.  He cries out against the paths that promise fun and excitement but end in death, in destruction.  He calls out with hope and life, peace and goodness.

Will I listen?  Can we hear Him through all the noise that surrounds us?  We’ve got to.  I’ve got to.

To order “Daybreak” by Matthew Hawkins please click on this link:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384362

Be The Man!

 

Who wears the pants in your family?

 

It’s easy to look at life, at your job or ministry, your family, and question what is going on.  I spend so much of my time asking God why something is happening and what it means for my future.  I want to be happy and fulfilled in what I do.  I want to be a man of faith, a good husband, a loving father.  My family should see me as a voice of truth and reason in this crazy world we live in.

 

But all the while there is this dark undercurrent that I share with so few.  I am a failure.  I can’t do things right.  I am stupid and a disappointment to myself and my King.  He gifted me with so much and all I can do is complain, not trusting Him with everything I know that He is always good.

 

So the cycle continues, dominated by fear and anger, I push others away.  I want something so badly that I lose sight of others, I lose sight of God.  And in those moments of blindedness, I fall, I lose, I hate.

 

So what is the answer?  Is there an answer?

 

This is what I think.  My priorities are screwed up.  When I lose focus it is conjoined to putting good things above God things.  And what are the God things?  Number one is my wife.  Then comes my family.  This is not a cliche.  This is not a marriage seminar.  This is just reality.  Are things out of wack?  Then I’m not putting God first and His priorities are not defining my priorities.  And for all you pastors, leaders, ministers, deacons and elders, God does not care what you are doing as much as who you are loving.  God doesn’t care how big your church is as much as He cares about you cherishing the woman He gave you to walk through life with.

 

So be the man.  Lay your life down.  Sacrifice your life.  Give up your will, your plans, your dreams.  Trust in the God who knows you and holds you in His almighty hands.

I’m talking to you, bitter worshipper.  And God, I’m talking to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be The Man!

 

Who wears the pants in your family?

 

It’s easy to look at life, at your job or ministry, your family, and question what is going on.  I spend so much of my time asking God why something is happening and what it means for my future.  I want to be happy and fulfilled in what I do.  I want to be a man of faith, a good husband, a loving father.  My family should see me as a voice of truth and reason in this crazy world we live in.

 

But all the while there is this dark undercurrent that I share with so few.  I am a failure.  I can’t do things right.  I am stupid and a disappointment to myself and my King.  He gifted me with so much and all I can do is complain, not trusting Him with everything I know that He is always good.

 

So the cycle continues, dominated by fear and anger, I push others away.  I want something so badly that I lose sight of others, I lose sight of God.  And in those moments of blindedness, I fall, I lose, I hate.

 

So what is the answer?  Is there an answer?

 

This is what I think.  My priorities are screwed up.  When I lose focus it is conjoined to putting good things above God things.  And what are the God things?  Number one is my wife.  Then comes my family.  This is not a cliche.  This is not a marriage seminar.  This is just reality.  Are things out of wack?  Then I’m not putting God first and His priorities are not defining my priorities.  And for all you pastors, leaders, ministers, deacons and elders, God does not care what you are doing as much as who you are loving.  God doesn’t care how big your church is as much as He cares about you cherishing the woman He gave you to walk through life with.

 

So be the man.  Lay your life down.  Sacrifice your life.  Give up your will, your plans, your dreams.  Trust in the God who knows you and holds you in His almighty hands.

I’m talking to you, bitter worshipper.  And God, I’m talking to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Away

“It’s like a marriage.”  She looked at me and said, “sometimes you just need to get away from each other.”

At the time I was neither married nor given in marriage and my prospects looked dim but somehow what she said sounded so wrong.  For me, the idea of once getting a wife seemed so amazing that I thought I’d never let her out of my sight.  Why would you willingly choose to spend time away from your hearts desire, the love of your life?  It was akin to saying, “I just need some time away from my brain.”  Now after 23 years of marriage, I think I’m right.

But, of course, she was talking about time away from God.  Her attempt was to logically explain why sin is so important to the believers continued relationship with God.  The idea being that as we take time away from God to do our own thing, to “live a little,” it makes the disciplines and rigors of Christianity more bearable, more attainable.  It makes me shudder to think of what married life turned out to be for this person (she wasn’t married at the time either). 

But we all fall into this mentality from time to time.  If I just do this one sin, this one, “going my own way,” then I’ll feel better, calm down enough to stand for Jesus.  “I just can’t take anymore of this temptation.  If I give in this one time, that will get Satan and my flesh off my back and they won’t bother me anymore.” 

I know you’ve never put it in those terms.  I haven’t either but my actions reveal the truth.

But there was a nugget in what she said.  Our relationship with Jesus is like a marriage.  And just like a marriage we don’t need time away FROM our spouse, we need time away WITH our spouse.  We need daily time to talk over what is happening, to plan for what is coming, to pay the bills and talk about the kids.  We need time to tell them how beautiful they still are and how much we still care.  They need to know that we would give up everything for them, lay down our lives for them.  And we need to hear what they have to say, to know their heart, their mind, get reconnected.

Doesn’t happen by chance.  Doesn’t happen easily or naturally for most of us.  We have to make it happen.  Want it bad enough that we make it happen.  Everyday.

HEY! I’m married!

In October of 1987 I observed the prettiest smile I had ever seen.  It came attached to a girl.

It was at my sister’s wedding and this particular girl happened to be the sister to the groom.  Couple this with the fact that I was in the military and she was a staunch Mennonite left little doubt that I had no shot at this one.  It didn’t stop me from trying to talk with her and find out more about her.  But, in finding out more, I realized all the more how far out of reach she was.  The reality that she is now my wife doesn’t negate the miracle that she said yes.

The story of how she came to be mine, or I came to be hers, is not the critical issue for this discussion.  And please don’t take this as an intellectual exercise.  How I am shown to be a bitter worshipper is largely seen through the lens of my marriage.  It is essential for us to see our relationship with God mirrored in the relationships we have with all His gifts and none more so than the relationship with our spouse.

Do I trust Him?  Do I trust her?  Am I willing to lay my life down for Him?  Her?  Do I see Him as the enemy, always out to get me?  It is easy and “churchy” to say no.  But how do I treat my wife?  I guarantee you that if you think of your wife as a foe, you are looking at God the same way.  Is she the only resource you look to for your needs and desires?  Is she the passion of your heart?  It is by the provision of our Savior that we have our spouse and she is the answer to our needs, desires and prayers.  We trust Him as we trust in what He has provided.

I’m not equating God with my wife.  And I am saying the same thing to women as I am to men.  And I do understand that abuse happens, infidelity and neglect.  But if I am jaded and bitter because of what humanity has done to me, then I have made my God too small.  “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”

He remains victorious, despite what I see, what I feel, what I hope for.  He is King in every area.  God, look deep into my heart.  Show me where I know the truth but live according to lies.  Lead me to lay down my life, take up my cross and live through Your resurrection.  And with all my heart I pray, let me live this way with her.