The Abiding Fathers blog is a collection of works from our founder, Bill Dotson, along with stories from guest bloggers.
Friends and Family,
I am struggling in finding the adequate words to describe an experience that is beyond words, in fact, beyond anything we can find in this world…
Since I have been in Rwanda I have been asking God to transform the knowledge that He has given me about who He is, and for that knowledge to turn into a true love, into a river flowing from my heart. This past Sunday, I sat in my room for most of the day, praying and reading. I was begging God to show me what it means to not only receive His love, but also to love Him back. I began to feel this incredible guilt that I had never felt before about who I was as a sinner, as a “dirty rag”. I have always been thought of as a good kid who has everything together in his life, and has a “good head on his shoulders”. But what most people don’t know is the amount of shame I carry when I don’t do what I know is the right thing. God showed me in this moment that the reason I carry all of this shame was because it was Luke Ellerman messing up. I couldn’t forgive myself, and would never allow anyone else to forgive me. So many times have I found myself holding the pieces of myself, in complete shame that I have failed yet again. So many times have I found myself gluing the pieces together and making a nice mask to make it seem like Luke Ellerman was strong, with no cracks. But this couldn’t last forever. This past Sunday, I ran out of glue. I could no longer pick myself up and glue the pieces together; I was simply out of glue.
In the previous paragraph, there are a lot of “I’s”. This is fitting, because that is how I was living. I thought I was immortal. That was… until I died.
It was at that moment that I looked up and told God I couldn’t do this lifestyle anymore. I was tired of running on a treadmill where God was watching, waiting for me to run out of gas, to allow Him to carry me.
In C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce”, he tells a story about God looking at a man with a lizard sitting on his shoulder whispering lies into his ear. God tells him that in order for the man to live in Paradise, he will have to kill the lizard. God kept begging the man asking if He could kill the demon, and after a long battle, the man allowed God to put it to death. Similarly, I felt God staring me in the eyes, asking if He could put my old self to death, so that I could truly live. I gave it to God, it wasn’t easy, but I knew it had to be done.
The next moment, I saw a vision of me walking through a parade, with angels (or what I assume to be angels) on either side, celebrating. Then at the end of the parade, I saw God, with a smile on His face. He came down to where I was, looked at me and said, “Welcome home, son. I have been waiting for you.”
In that moment, the things that seemed so significant to me became so small compared to the love of God. The joy that I experienced I cannot explain, it was truly unspeakable joy. The worries of “what if I lose this person or that thing?” became so inconsequential, because I had experienced God. I felt the love of God in a new way. If God takes everything away from me because of this surrender, it will be worth it because I now feel the love of God. I can now understand what Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 when he writes, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
How could I trust God with anything if I couldn’t even trust Him with myself? God has now brought me to the point where I am able to see the joy in living the life God has created for me. I have had glimpses of this joy throughout my life in different instances, but nothing like this. This is a transformation. This is a love that can’t help but lead to a response, to a submission, to obedience.
I am so thankful for a God who never gives up on pursuing us; for a God that loves us so deeply and patiently that He has waited 19 years for me. THAT is a God worth serving. THAT is a God worth giving my life to.
Thank you so much for your prayers. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for each one of you (“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16).
For His Glory,
Abiding Fathers: Encouraging, equipping and engaging men in developing their God-ordained leadership role as fathers in order to make disciples for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.