Occasionally I catch a quiet moment with my children. A moment when I know their ears can hear and their heart is especially open to me. In those rare moments I always speak this truth. “Son, there are many voices in this world. Which ones can you trust?” He replies, “God, mom and dad.” “That is right son, at this point in your life, these are the people who are best able to look out for you. You can trust what they say.” I do this with my children because I know the world we live in. I do this with my children because I know this truth, deeply rooted, would have helped me early on in life.
I grew up in a “hellfire and brimstone” church and in an abusive home that struggled with a myriad of dysfunctions. Those environments/people created a child who was scared to death of God and had no trusted voices for the biggest questions of my life. I ended up doing what most kids do, I listened to the loudest voices around me. The voices of this world.
All those voices made my life troubled and confusing. That is how I ended up in the police station at age 12 for robbery. An older teenager thought it would be fun to rob his neighbors house. He was one of the most influential voices in my life at the time. It’s easy to see how I ended up becoming a promiscuous, partying, young boy, lost in life. I had no direction so other people’s ideas for my life were naturally what mattered to me. This is why my parents eventually sent me to Cookson Hills.
After walking with God now for 30 years, I see life more clearly. He really is a GOOD Father! My greatest desire in life is to be closely connected to Him. That plays a big part in helping me to hear and trust His voice. All my life I have tried to answer the big questions in my life. The deepest questions whose answers speak to the very core of your being. Those questions, if answered incorrectly, can shipwreck your life.
I spent the foundational years of my life lost. I was looking for myself, but I could not find anyone I liked. Listening to the world creates a confusing mess. God is the only one who can give us true identity. The kind of identity that cannot be uprooted by the storms of life. He is the source of who we are! He tells us in scripture that we are his sons and daughters, a designation only given to those who choose to follow Him. If we surrender our lives to Him, He pours back into us the thing we need most, identity.
As I have aged, God has expanded my identity. I am His son, as well as a husband and father. So much of what God does with me seems to mature me in those identities. Regardless of what I face in life, this identity cannot be taken from me. I am so grateful.
We all struggle with insecurities and fears. It’s part of the human condition. For many years the recurring theme for me was fear of failure. I did not respond by trusting God, rather by trusting myself. I built a life where I had to be in control of everything. Some people respond the opposite way, they do nothing and sit paralyzed in life. It’s exhausting.
God tells us in the Bible that we are made in His image (Gen. 1:26). That is good news for those of us who wonder if we have what it takes. God has made us with incredible value and capability. Nothing else in all of creation is made in the image of God.
God made us to love and be loved. For most of my life, it has been hard for me to do both. My father left us when I was 12. It sent me into a tailspin of anger and self-preservation that me took 20 years to come out of. It’s nearly impossible to give and receive love in a healthy way when you cannot trust anyone. And if you cannot trust anyone, all that is left is self protection.
God’s Word says that all people are lovable regardless of what they have done. He demonstrates this truth to us by sending His son to die for us while we did not deserve it but desperately needed it (Rom. 5:8). We all need that kind of love. That is the kind of love that can change us. That is the kind of love that breaks people free from the chains of their emotional prisons and sets them on a right path. We are lovable, regardless of what we have done, regardless of what has happened to us. God loves us.
Much of what the world speaks to us is a lie. If we trust the voice of this world, we will eventually end up in places we don’t want to be. God is our trusted voice! Make sure you have moments of quiet and when your heart is especially open to Him. In those moments, make sure to ask your questions and listen to His voice.