The mumblings of a Christian autistic husband, dad, IT guy and amateur radio operator - Will Brokenbourgh / AF7EC
Why I Want You to Have What I Have
In my years here on Earth, I have experienced a great deal, been blessed a great deal and have also unfortunately lost loved ones and personal possessions. When I was younger, I strove and struggled to provide a life for my now ex-wives and children -- trying to achieve some unrealistic goal that caused dissatisfaction with now ex-spouses and disappointment with children. Wow, what a rough time that was.
Providing for your family is very important, but trusting God is even more important. The times where I gave in to other people's way of life instead of just having faith ended up damaging and destroying relationships, employment and life in general.
When I was younger (in my late 20's and early 30's), I was in a marriage where my spouse frequently wanted more -- more money, more stylish car, more clothes, more prestige and so-on. In her defense, she had just lost her older brother to a violent shooting near Disneyland in Anaheim, California and she didn't know which way was up. Her brother's passing did two things -- it seemingly pushed her away from God while it caused me to seek him in earnest.
As my first wife stumbled further and further into the darkness, I started studying God's word -- the Bible -- and started to experience God's love growing in my heart. At that time, I really did not have any Christian mentors, fathers or brothers to guide me, so I made a lot of incorrect assumptions about what I was reading in the Bible. At one point I stopped eating bacon because I thought it was a sin, until I got to the scripture where Jesus declared "It's not what goes into a man's mouth that makes him unclean, but rather what comes out of his mouth" (paraphrased).
Now I'm not recounting what happened with my ex-wives to dig at them, I'm just showing how different my life was back then compared to now. I forgive my ex-wives for anything that might have happened and I sincerely hope that they have truly found happiness in Jesus Christ!
The wrong measuring stick
Anyway, in my younger days, I was measuring success (or the lack thereof) by how much money I was giving my wife, how much stuff I was buying my kids and what kind of car we had. I was working long hours, coming home late and it seems like the thousands of dollars I made a month were simply evaporating from our bank account. Long story short, my wife ended up leaving me for another man, my kids ended up being neglected and possibly abused by non-family-members and one more broken family to add to the statistics. What happened?
I was working hard enough in my job, working so many hours and such crazy schedules that I was falling asleep driving home on the freeway. Thanks to God for keeping me (and others around me) safe! But working long hours isn't what makes a man 'a man'. How close you follow Jesus, how loving you treat your spouse, children, neighbors and friends and the love you sew into others is a better indicator of a good man or woman compared to just working long hours and exhausting yourself.
If I had known how to cling closer to God, how to be identified in Christ Jesus and how to show love and take the authority that I should have had in my marriage and parenting, things might have been different. Granted, depression and sometimes mental illness often come after a horrible tragedy like what we went through with my brother-in-law, but being rooted deep in Jesus would have made a big difference -- we might have made it past that.
What's different today?
Today things are a lot different. Sure, I'm still autistic, still make tons of mistakes and need God's mercy every single day, but I'm a different man now. Success is no longer measured by how much money we have in our bank account, what kind of house we own or how much stuff we have. No, success is how close a relationship we have with God! Yes, there are times where I feel I'm far away from him. Yes, there are times when I keep messing up and unintentionally keep doing stupid things. Yes, faith is super super important when you're a follower of Jesus and yes, it sometimes is difficult to see where life is going to end up, but this is no surprise to God!
My current (and prayerfully last) wife has also grown in her walk with God and has learned how to lean on his Word and his love. If it wasn't for Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, and my wife's desire to honor the covenant we made before God on our wedding day, we'd probably be divorced by now. But God's love, his mercy and his power have saved us from awful consequences over and over again. Instead of struggling to meet the unbelieving world's definition of success and getting more and more stressed and dissatisfied with lack of progress, we instead just do our best to honor and grow closer to God, and each other.
Relationship instead of religion
So many people reject a relationship with God because they think they have to live a religious life. They may think that religion will take away their freedom, enslave them to following an exacting list of rules or suffer the consequences from a mean and controlling God. That's just not the truth, or anywhere near it.
Instead of religion, choosing Jesus means cultivating and growing a real relationship with your God and creator. Instead of trying to perform and do everything right in your own strength, when you have a genuine and meaningful relationship with the living God, you want to please him, you want to do what's right! Turning your back on bad behavior, showing others love and doing good things is a by-product of being in a true and deep relationship with God! Being deeply rooted in Jesus gives you the supernatural strength and motivation to do good without forcing it -- without being religious.
Don't just be a pew-warmer
Meeting regularly with other believers is important, but remember this: Your are meeting together to celebrate God, worship him and encourage one-another. If you think "If I just go to church every week, I'll be okay -- I'll be safe" make sure that you are in an intimate relationship with God too. Just going to church one day a week and then living the rest of the week in a sinful way will not get you close to God and is not enough to save you. Just like Jesus said:
On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.' - Matthew 7:22
It's not enough to just know about Jesus, you need to actually be in a relationship with him, be indentified in him and grow in him. You don't have to wait until you feel you've reached some level of perfection to have a relationship with him, just make the choice to turn your back on your sinful past and make Jesus your choice today!
What do you have, Will?
I am in a relationship with God through Jesus. I am not perfect, I mess up a lot but thankfully Jesus' blood washes me clean, I choose to learn from my mistakes, turn from them and do the best I can to grow my roots deeper into Jesus. I don't have to do some procedure, don't have to wallow in self-pity or beat myself up for eternity if I mess up, I just ask God for forgiveness, repent (turn away from my behavior or bad thinking) and move on, making things right with anyone else I may have upset or treated wrongly.
In addition to that, like Paul in the New Testament, I am continually learning to be content no matter the circumstance. It's not easy sometimes, especially given my current living situation and other unfavorable circumstances. I am doing the best with Christ's power to count every trial a joy, to bless those who abuse me and my family and to cast my problems at God's feet. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I miss the mark, but I'm grateful that God just doesn't stomp us into the ground the first, second or hundredth time we mess up.
Another thing I have now is increased faith compared to before. In the past, my faith was growing and God was merciful to me many times over, but when I let others talk me into turning away from my established faith in God, things didn't go so well. Lives were changed, people were hurt and families broken. Today, along with deeper roots in Christ, my faith grows more and more.
I trust God more now and rely on him to be my protector, my provider and my savior -- and not only for me, but my wife and children, as well. It's also a huge plus that my wife loves God deeply and is also growing deeply in him. If she didn't have the intimate relationship with God that she does, we'd probably no longer be married!
God doesn't mishandle or mock our faith in him. He cares deeply for us and he has helped, healed and protected us time and time again -- no striving, no performing and no religious rituals necessary!
So, why do I want you to have what I have?
I love you! -- even though I may not know you. I want you to have the love, joy, peace and contentment that is available to any follower of Jesus. While an unbelieving world can and will try to beat you up, even those in Jesus, there is a secret place in God that is a comfort and support for his kids. You just can't beat that!
Don't just know about Jesus -- get into a relationship with him! Don't neglect one of the most important relationships you could ever have! He wants to be in a relationship with you, too. Will you let him?
God bless you, and thank you for reading!
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