We talk a lot about the “Overcoming Faith” that Jesus gives. Most people think that’s either for others or that the writer knows nothing about what he’s writing about.
I live in a state of Hope, by choice. It starts by knowing I’m loved, and then Hope and Faith come naturally. But to understand where I come from you need to know my story. Since I can’t sleep tonight because it’s on my mind I’ll share some of it.
I’m 42. Born in the baby boom of the early 1970s. I attended my first family funeral in 1985, but our first taste of family death was in 1981 when my dad’s youngest sister was killed in a house-fire. She was my favourite aunt, born-again and vibrant, and always had a smile. It was infections. I was only very little, but I remember a blue elephant playing with her at our home. It’s one of my oldest mempries and since I was only 9 when she died it’s precious to me.
In 1983 dad’s cousin, like Yvonne a nurse, died of cancer. We were a large and close family and her loss was felt although I was only 11.
Dad had suspected throat cancer in 1984. Scared the daylights out of us. I remember Robin being worried about him. He was 8 at the time. The nodules were benign, but we were thrown badly. The in February 1985 Robin, my only brother, was killed in a road accident a month before his 10th birthday and six weeks before my 13th.
Despair became a companion for a long time. My mum was ill, a breast lump removed in 1987, and her dad died of cancer in 1988. Her mum succombed to cancer in 1991. There was pain and heartbreak through my childhood and teens. I was bullied mercilessly and developed a destructive depression with a violent temper that would have got me into serious trouble if I’t not been able to only release it when there happened to be several people strong enough to hold me back to help me. By the time I left school at 18 I’d been threatened with expulsion more than once and talked out of suicide four times and dragged off two people who because of intervention live to tell the tale.
I left Lincolnshire to start a new life in Devon, but my ghosts haunted me. I moved in with a girl I’d begun dating because it stopped me getting teased for being single. Naturally, I now was teased for my choice of partner. But into a new environment I was able to begin to find hope. My faith began to grow and has never fully disappeared. Cultivating Hope and Faith has become a big part of who I am. In my last post I mentioned being consciously aware of who God wants us to be. It starts with active pursuit of the vision He has for us, for your life.
Right now for me it’s writing. And flying (although I’m careful not to share that too often with my wife). It is difficult to consciously overcome an onslaught.
In the last 5 years alone my wife has had to fight what will eventually be a terminal illness – there is no cure for her condition, we simply have to find hope and Faith each day that at the end of this day there’ll be another one. We lost our home, our business and our health as a couple. But still I hold on to God’s Love for Me, My wife, and that He has a plan that does not involve defeat. Jeremiah 29:11 is burned in my heart as is Isaiah 40:31, so I wait on God to soar like an eagle and see the good plans and the future He has laid out for me.
Just today I talked to Rene, this morning so despondent she wanted to die – not hypothetically, but for real – and by this evening we had begun to see mountains move towards rebuilding a life with everything and more that we have lost in the last five years restored to us. Yes, it will take work. Dear Lord it will take every ounce of sweat we have for some time, but we will do it. First the recovery of a business, then rebuilding a home on the large plot my mum and I own. But one thing at a time. Hope can only come from accepting love. And Faith can only come from Hope.
And we need all three to live a life as consciously overcoming the trials and tribulations the enemy throws at us. We need to decide – truly decide – to overcome. We must cut ourselves off from any other course of action that would seek to destroy our path to overcoming, no matter how painful it may be – and it will be painful. We’re not fighting an enemy who plays fair, and we need to be ruthless spiritually to defeat a ruthless foe. The spiritual war is no place for chivalry. We must take no prisoners, we must on a spiritual level totally eliminate anything and anyone who stands against what we know God has inspired. If people speak against what we know to be God, we must put them away from us, no matter who they are. I’m not advocating “yes-men” attitudes, but rather a untied fellowship who will march with a single purpose. Think of Frodo and the band setting out from Rivendell, 9 warriors to match the 9 wraiths. Some will fall, some will be restored. Some will falter and recover, and all will find strength they did not know they had.
We need fellowship. The importance is essential. We need guidance from a sage like Gandalf, from warriors like Aragorn and Boromir, from down-to-earth character like Gimli and simple honest folk like Merry and Pippin, and faithful friends like Samwise and Legolas. Our fellowhips will look different, but they will be what we need to become a conscious overcomer.
But like Frodo, we must choose to continue the quest God places before us. And please, take the fellowhips based on the books not the movies – there’s so much more depthe in Tolkein than in Jackson. Don’t get me wrong, the movies were amazing, but there’s so much more in the books. Choices emphasised by the book are missed in the movies, consequences in the books are left out completely, and the changes the quest has on the travellers is glossed over in the movies. Aragorn is not the hesitant man of the movies, but the one who calls for the reforging of the shards. The hobbits are fearless because they have no idea the perils that lie before them, but so it is with us. Some of our company will be fearless because they are battle-hardened already. Some because they are naive.
They all have a part to play in our quest. And we all have a quest to play a crucal role in. Frodo is told if He fails the quest will fail. The same is true for all of us. God has a mission only you can complete, whether it’s Richard Branson building Space tourism or young john down the road helping the little girl next door tie her shoes the first time. At on point my mission was heping a boy with a learning “disability” – one I’ve since been diagnosed with myself (Attention Deficit Disorder) – to understand how to tell time and the difference between the 24 hour clock, am and pm time. It took us weeks, working one-on-one, but he mastered it, and the sense of accomplishment as he mastered his quest was one that filled my heart with such joy. Another boy could barely read at the start of the year. By the end of it he had read “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” and understood it. He loved it so much he asked his parents to buy him the Narnia set for his birthday – which he proudly showed me the day I left the school.
He became a conscious overcomer. So did I.
So can you. No matter the problem, no matter the size of the issue.
My wife asks me “David, How can I eat an elephant?” I answer “One bite at a time”
One bite at a time. It takes time, but we will overcome if we just keep chewing.
Consciously overcoming. Choosing each day not to quit – and it’s hard.
In 1999 I attempted suicide 4 times in just over a month following my dad’s death. My wife’s illness drives me to despair more that I’d like to admit, but the Cross and the strength of Jesus allows me Hope. Hope gives me Faith. Faith that even though this battle has been long and hard that I will see the victory.
By deciding every day to overcome my enemy.
So can you with God’s Power in the Holy Spirit. Don’t go it alone. I tried in 1999, and I don’t recommend it. Commit your plan to God and if He says “GO”, the do it. If He says “NO” then ask “Where?”
Be mindful of God’s presence and let Him guide you – He longs to do it.
Be conscious, and be an overcomer.