I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME 

CHAPTER 18 

TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE:

PART 4 ACCEPTANCE,THE ENEMY WITHIN

 

"Simple Gifts" written by Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr., of the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine 1848 

 

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free

'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

 

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

 

The most dangerous type of religious people are those who are racists, discriminatory, and self-righteous, meaning, those who believe abstinence from committing what THEY see as sinful acts makes them holy and above other people. For instance, they may think themselves better than criminals who have broken man's laws. But, what about those who have broken God's laws, which includes ALL of us? Are we any better? Yet, their self-righteousness, arrogance and pride rules over them, for it is a dark power that has placed them in bondage, leaving them with the desire to control, limit, isolate, punish, and reign over others because of prideful belief in themselves. The danger is not so much in their religion, for in itself, it is powerless. True power comes from God and having a relationship with God. The danger is in their cruel passion and pride which they laud over men in the name of religion.

 

Pride is the corrupter which takes control over the corruptible soul. A prideful, corrupted, and religious mind can result in the demonstrative defense of religious rights and the legitimacy of forceful assimilation and power over others, negating freewill, to demand and achieve conformity to religious decrees. These religious decrees, by placing others in bondage, are not of God, for God's Truth and Wisdom frees all men from bondage.

 

A prideful, corrupted mind is separated from God and engulfed in darkness, whereby, it is only capable of invoking religious decrees steeped in hatred and based upon prejudiced and flawed ideology affected by culture, political beliefs and patriotism. Having given in to sin (death), it becomes the religion which they practice in various forms and seek to force upon others.

 

Pride is that sense of self-entitlement, along with desired control, authority, and possession, even over and above our Creator, God, Himself. It will dictate to us the mind and ways of darkness, making us believe we are in control. Pride boars into us and becomes a parasite, effecting our beliefs and behavior, without our even knowing we have been infected.

 

How do we identify and block pride before it invades? First, by knowing the Word of God and then examining ourselves constantly for hidden pride.

 

Ask God to reveal those areas in your life you are prideful over (i.e.,your appearance, popularity, wealth, job, home, car, marriage, children, intelligence, knowledge in a particular subject, talent, skill, status, cleanliness, promptness, health, etc.). People can find almost anything to obsess over or laud over other people, not realizing that it has placed them in bondage to pride.

 

Once God reveals your prideful areas, don't think that it's over and your problem is solved. It is only the beginning. You must ask God for forgiveness and accept that deliverance. Repenting, that is, changing your ways, involves a changed heart to attain a changed mind. You will be tested after each new revelation and not how and when you expect it. Do not be discouraged and give up. It might take some time, not your time, but, God's time.

 

Jesus, the Word of God, is the Author and the Finisher of your faith. You must believe that what God has done is finished, for God is a god of completeness, therefore, He will allow you to be tested in order to finish what He began.

 

I am forever grateful to The Helper, God's Holy Spirit, who speaks to me and helps me to be aware of when my pride is in the picture, affecting my thoughts. And it is with love and assurance that I accept His correction, knowing that I will enjoy a clean heart and a steadfast love for God.

 

Throughout our lives, as we live in abundant life, trying to rest in Jesus and God's Holy Spirit, there will be times when we are distracted and pride tries to rear up its head within us. The enemy will attack at every opportunity. Our teacher, friend and comforter will help us to be on our guard and remain humble and prayerful. This is true power and how sweet it is to be at peace with yourself, those around you, the world, and of course with God.

 

We've talked about: knowing how your mind works; never forgetting who you are in Christ; knowing your purpose; being molded by an infected society or trying to conform. We have discussed other traps throughout this book that can cause one to fall into the trap of pride and bondage.

 

God has made it easy for us to identify and cast out pride by  humbling ourselves. Remaining humble allows you to identify the beginning, middle and end of pride. You will see the symptoms of the crippling disease in others. One must be humble to continue following Jesus and imitating God's character. When you refuse to follow Jesus, or become distracted and take yours eyes from Him, you expose yourself to temptation and the controlling urges of pride.

 

 

CREATED TO ENDURE

 

 

This stretch of our journey is intended to open your mind to the things in your life you continue to hold on to or refuse to accept that can keep you from following Christ and obeying God. There are things in our lives we must accept or should not accept in order to live our life holy, righteously, and abundantly.

 

 

 

Along this journey, I've traveled down the road of Reality, onto the road of Endurance. However, on the road of Endurance, I ran into the crossroad of Acceptance, where there was a road block--a huge heavy rock within a narrow ravine. There was no going around or over the huge rock.

 

It took some time just to decide rather or not to turn around or detour to Acceptance and explore those avenues of my mind. I decided that there was no turning back. So, having to deal with given matters there at the point of Acceptance, prolonged my journey, until I had given them my full attention.

 

So, like most people would, I decided to take a detour. Turning left down Acceptance Avenue, I was hoping it would lead me back to Endurance. Along the way, I passed all the things I SHOULDN'T ACCEPT as defining who I am and allow to fill me with guilt and shame. Guilt and shame are not of God, but, are the adversary's stamps of bondage and enslavement.

 

I've come to understand how intelligent people can be very blinded by being in self and make the wrong choices in life. I accepted those things that have happened in my life and recognized my overwhelming desire to be loved. I accepted God being there watching over me, allowing me to make mistakes, in order to grow, strengthen, and prepare me to become who I should be. I made a mental note of my faults and mistakes, my growth and God's love for me. Each time I embraced and accepted my life, my heart felt lighter and I felt stronger. Here is part of my list.

 

My journey learning to love God, myself, and others as I learned that I was CREATED TO ENDURE

 

 

Things that do not define me. Yet, God allowed them to happen to strengthen me.

 

-placing myself in precarious and dangerous positions in order not to be alone or to have a father for my children

 

- living amongst dangerous people and in dangerous places, such as drug houses, sleazy motels; living among methadone, crack, cocaine, heroine, guns, killers, drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes, con men

 

- believing sex could buy me love

 

-continuing to trust and be with those who had abused, assaulted and taken advantage of me by either: raping me; stealing from me; pulling a weapon on me; physically abusing me; trying to strangle me; pressuring me to smoke marijuana and pop pills

 

- taking my children to live in a drug, gambling, and house of sexual promiscuity and ill repute

 

- putting men above God

 

- putting men above my children

 

- allowing myself to become homeless

 

 

 

After some time I ran into a dead end with a sign, "To Be Continued". Disappointed, but feeling strong and refreshed, I turned around, crossed over Endurance and headed down the other end of Acceptance. This part of the road was occupied by all the things I SHOULD ACCEPT as GIFTS from God.

 

- God's love

 

- God's Son and Holy Spirit

 

- God's promises

 

- God's forgiveness

 

- Forgiving myself

 

- God is in control

 

- God has a plan for my life

 

 

- my life

 

- my body

 

- my specialized mind and how I think

 

- my specialized talents and skills

 

- truly loving people, even my enemies, and seeing them as God sees them

 

- Love from others

 

- Help from others

 

- those people who criticize and ridicule me

 

- my weaknesses and understanding why God allowed them

 

- Knowing that my weaknesses compliment my strengths in that they bring me closer to God, depending upon Him

 

- my family

 

- my children being in God's Hands

 

 

As I passed each one, I made a mental note of them in my mind and again I began to feel stronger, refreshed and even joyous in my heart. Yet, again, I reached a dead end that said, "To Be Continued".

 

I returned to the crossroads of Acceptance and Endurance feeling stronger than I had ever felt in my life; so strong, that, I decided that I was strong enough to push through to Endurance.

 

 

I decided to give it some real effort and remove the stumbling block, which turned out to be the weight of my pride. And, upon struggling to roll it out of the way, I realized: there I was standing face to face with things in my life, having had to determine what I SHOULD accept from the past and present and what I SHOULDN'T accept from the past and present, as defining who I am. Not, only that, but, had I forgiven myself and accepted who I am. I came to the realization that I couldn't move forward until I had befriended ACCEPTANCE within me. There was no road for CAN'T accept, for with God ALL things are possible.  If you are stuck at CAN'T accept, then, perhaps you should retrace your steps or start your walk from the beginning with Jesus.

 

Through various flashbacks of my past, I remembered events that God allowed to help shape me in one way or another, with very strong emphasis on "God Allowed."

 

Instead of labeling hardships and adversity with guilt and shame, I can place them on my Learning How To Endure Victory Shelf and label them as Blessings in Disguise. Some people may still see them as terribly wrong choices and paths and want to judge me by them. However, I must learn to accept my actions, the consequences, and what came out of them, good and bad and their inability to see the hand of God.

 

 

Having been enlightened and lightened of the burdens I carried, my strength was renewed and my faith was restored. So,I pushed, not with doubt, fear, shame, guilt, and weakness, but with true strength from God, determination, and faith in God, for all that He had brought me through.

 

Slowly, the boulder became dislodged and rolled down the rocky hill. I gave a big sigh of relief, thanking God. With the knowledge and power of Acceptance, I was able to continue on the road of Endurance. I had made peace with the past and I was stronger and more equipped to endure the present and meet the future.