God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him…
As a child, the boy spent many hours hiding in his closet crying out to Jesus, asking for His help. Outside the closet, the boy endured such things as being struck and/or shoved around when he would walk past his step-dad. He would also get slapped and/or backhanded when his step-dad would see him using the wrong utensil to eat, or for holding it in the wrong way, both at home and in public restaurants. At times the step-dad would hold the child by his hair and force food down his throat, food he knew the boy didn’t like. The boy wet the bed frequently and his step-dad would tell his friends that he wet the bed, and at home he would rub the boy’s face in his urine soaked bed sheets, while at the same time telling him he was no better than a dog, and that was how you house-break a dog. The step-dad frequently told the boy that he should apologize to everyone he passed on the street for breathing the same air they breathed. Throughout his childhood his step-dad consistently called the boy a bastard.
Once when the boy was about thirteen or fourteen years old, the step-dad saw the boy vomit in the toilet, and told him to remain kneeling there, and then ordered him to eat his own vomit from the toilet. The boy refused. The step-dad began repeatedly forcing the boy’s head into the vomit filled toilet water, each time holding it there longer than the last time. Finally, for fear of drowning, the boy ate his own vomit, handful by handful, until there was none left in the toilet.
The boy tried to run away many times but was always found and forced to return home. Just seconds after midnight on the morning of his sixteenth birthday, the boy left home for good. As he was leaving his step-dad told him that he didn’t care if he lived, or died. This boy’s step-dad had been the only father he had ever known.
When this child became a man, he became a Christian, and for many years he had a hard time accepting the love of his new Father. He knew the Father loved him, but in the depths of his being he had set up a barrier to keep from exposing his feelings, and from trusting anyone. You see, as a child, when his step-dad found out the boy liked, or wanted, something, he would scold the boy and tell him why he wasn’t worth having it. This barrier was set up subconsciously by the boy, little by little, throughout his childhood.
This man’s Christian life has been somewhat similar to his childhood, in that many of his Christian brothers and sisters refuse to accept him, and his relationship with the Lord. Many would despise him even before they got to know him (much like his step-dad). For instance, a friend invited him to a Bible study at her house. When he arrived he found that the study was being led by a man he had never met before. The leader opened his Bible to begin the study and, before he even looked at his Bible, he looked at this man and pointing his finger at him said, “I don’t care who you are, or what you know. I don’t want to hear a word out of you tonight.” The following day the friend who had invited him to her house told him that she had never seen this man behave in such a manner. She said he had always been kind and considerate to everyone. She was dumbfounded by what he had done. He told her not to concern herself with it, because similar things had been happening to him for some time.
Sometimes he would share experiences he had with the Lord with his Christian friends, and many, many times he was laughed at, or called a liar, and many times just dismissed. These and other such incidents happened quite often, and, actually, still do. (After many years of this, the Lord revealed that the treatment he received from many Christians, as well as the treatment he had received from his step-dad, was due to the heavenly call that had been placed on his life.)
The man struggled with these things for years until one afternoon, while in prayer, the Lord spoke to him saying, “You were a bastard, now you are a son.” From that moment on the Lord began slowly penetrating the barrier the man had set up as a child, and soon darkness gave way to light, grace showed itself as free and unconditional, fear bowed to hope; and, in all this, God showered him with His love. This process took several years.
Today the man still has problems with the barrier, but has learned to dwell not on the past, but on what lies ahead, taking comfort in the fact that he has been counted worthy to share in the sufferings of Christ, who, like himself, was despised and rejected among men. And now each pain, each scar, and every other wound of his childhood, and his Christian life, is consistently soothed by the compassion found in Jesus. Each day he lays aside his old self, and puts on the new self created in righteousness and holiness in the truth.
Now, rather than withdraw into himself when he is maligned, he prays for those who mistreat him. He has forgiven his step-dad and all who have hurt him, and he loves everyone, whether they accept him, or reject him. By God’s grace, the terrors of the past have become the triumphs of today, for just as Paul said, “God causes all things (the good and the bad) to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
Rev. Jon Banks
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