David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “The Word of God”

The Shift (2015-01-15 Daily) [Part 3 of 3]

The shift. Looking straight ahead. Letting go. Throughout my life I’ve experienced this quantum change in my state of being on both a large and a small scale. It’s the clarification of existence when I finally step out of the way and allow myself be swept away by the Spirit’s current, by nature’s grace, by creativity’s uplift, when the supernatural clicks into place and the wheels come up. I’m flying. It’s those eureka moments, the epiphanies, the awakenings, when I’m in the zone, the sweet spot of the moment, the satori, when reality sloughs off to reveal the Face of God and my reason for existence. And there’s no time I experience this phenomenon more than when I’m writing.

Not long ago I was struggling with an essay, fighting every inch of the way to put words together into sensible order. The essay stared at me, flat, uninspired, languishing in a puddle of literary drool. Then I remembered the Apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17 NKJV). I prayed, offering my work up to the Father and giving thanks in Jesus’ name for not only my talents and abilities, but also for the opportunities to serve the Kingdom in my gifting. Almost immediately the words started coming together on the screen. I’d shifted into the zone, and in no time I’d crafted a decent opening to the essay. Two days later I finished it.

When I worked on my novel On the Inside, a story about a writer forced to transition into his own book to kill off an unruly character, I experienced the shift many times as I transitioned into my own work to bring my characters to life. When I’ve gone back to read sections of The Epiphany of Joy, I sometimes wonder who actually wrote that book, then I remember what I told God when He gave me the assignment: “Okay, this is Your deal. I’m a conduit for Your Spirit to work through me. I’ll provide the fingers and the brain and the computer, but Your Spirit has to provide the rest.” In other words, I needed wisdom to show up at my gate in a hurry so I could complete my Daddy’s assignment. I needed to experience the shift. And God has never disappointed me.

For over thirty years I traveled through life self-focused. Despite my firm belief in God, I believed in myself more. I embraced the American way of independence and self-sufficiency as I wrestled with God over my purpose, my direction, and my bank accounts. I was fascinated—obsessed—by the power of the subconscious mind and I dutifully indoctrinated myself with cassette tapes filled with secular affirmations and messages reinforcing my self-absorption. I was number one! Then my life unraveled. My first marriage dissolved. My health followed suit. The Kingdom of David C. Hughes built on the sandy foundation of selfishness and self-sufficiency washed away, leaving me gasping in the surf of despair and depression. Then God stepped in by pointing me to chapters 30 and 40 in the Book of Job, a book I’d never read in a faded Bible I’d hardly ever opened. At that moment I experienced a profound shift, away from self-righteousness to the righteousness of God.

Since then I’ve lived that shift daily. I’ve shifted from an attitude of pridefulness to an attitude of God’s sovereignty. I’ve shifted away from faith in myself and toward a more absolute faith in God. I’ve shifted from a wishy-washy relationship with the Second Person of the Trinity to a solid, unquestioning belief in Jesus Christ as not only my Savior but my Lord. And I recognize I’m now on the cusp of another profound shift, a change that will define my life to the end, a final push to an absolute trust. I think Neil T. Anderson said it best in his book Victory Over the Darkness: “We accept what God says is true and live accordingly by faith, and this abundant life works out in our experience. If we try to make it true by the way we live, we will never get there.”[1]

I desire above all else to live each moment of my life with no hesitation about the veracity of God’s word, believing without a doubt that what God says is true, that God is always faithful to His promises. I want to continue to build my foundation on Jesus and stand on God’s Word. I confess I’m not there yet—I still have a tendency to look down at my feet—but I can touch the fringes of the shift—the confidence this hope instills lifts my heart and keeps me pedaling forward, albeit wobbly at times. Like Hannah learning how to ride her bicycle, or like my dance lessons so long ago, I’ve got to lift my eyes off the ground, look straight ahead, and keep moving.

 

Copyright © 2015 David C Hughes

 

[1] Anderson, Neil T. Victory Over the Darkness. Ventura, California: Regal Books, 2013. 83.

The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 2: Joy in God’s Word [2 of 3]

My first exposure to the power of God’s Word and its ability to bring about healing and change manifested when I read Norman Vincent Peale’s book The Power of Positive Thinking.  When I discovered this little book and the message it conveyed, I was struggling with the first wave of unsettledness conjured by the tug of writing versus the practicality of engineering.  From the time I could remember I’d always been a worrier, and this book ushered in a new way of looking at circumstances, dreams, and desires.  My desire to write stood in stark contrast to the desire to live financially secure, and my inability to reconcile the conflict dragged me physically, mentally, and spiritually into the dark basement of depression and dissatisfaction.   But The Power of Positive Thinking turned on a light in the form of Philippians 4:13 (KJV): “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

For a season the little bits of Scripture I’d picked up from Dr. Peale’s guidance got shoved into a mental lockbox by self-focus, pride, self-sufficiency, and affirmations delivered on cassette tapes as I tried to settle my conflicted mind.  I’d remembered the first half of Paul’s assurance to the Philippians, “I can do all things,” but had forgotten the second half.  Indeed, the most important half: “through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  I took pride in my self-sufficiency, and ten years later I paid the price for it: I fell into a depression so severe I finally dragged my butt to a Christian psychological clinic and checked myself in as an outpatient.  A week or two earlier, God had clearly spoken to me, directing me to open a faded, dusty Bible I hadn’t had much use for during the prior 32 years.  His message, planted directly into my heart, awakened me long enough to dial the clinic, set up the consultation, and check myself in.  His Word saved my life, literally.

It was during the weeklong evaluation, group therapy, and emotional vomiting that I became reacquainted with God’s Word in spades as a tool for mental, physical, and spiritual recovery.  It was then I was introduced to the apostle Paul’s urging in his letter to the Romans: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2).  Fifteen years later Eric Owings, Marc Owings brother, slid up behind me during the first night of the Fully Alive retreat at Lake Fork, Texas, and slipped me a tiny piece of paper folded in half.  I’d just experienced a life-changing outpouring of God’s mercy as I opened up and confessed to twenty-five men my brokenness, my anger, my fears, and my desperate search for my life’s redemption from the death grip of past failures.  I sat, shaking, yet covered over with peace and love and . . . relief.  I opened up that slip of paper and saw Eric had written a Scriptural citation: Romans 12:1-2.  The very same verse given to me at the clinic.  I’ve since had that citation tattooed on my right shoulder under an old rugged cross surrounded by all the junk I’ve had to lay at its foot.  It’s truly my life verse.

Since then I’ve dived headlong into the Word of God.  Our church small group did a study reinforcing the power and practicality of absorbing God’s word through conscientious memorization and recitation.  Like Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and the apostle John, I ate it up!  “When your words came, I ate them,” wrote the prophet Jeremiah, “they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.” (Jeremiah 15:16 NIV).  I committed to starting each day by reading a devotional and the referenced Bible verses.  After all, Jesus started His day in solitary prayer: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35).  Jesus didn’t do anything until the Father directed Him; likewise I try to start my day with an attitude of open-mindedness and flexibility.  I find I still approach the quiet time with my own agenda in mind, and sometimes as something to just check off my to-do list, but the more I humble myself before the sovereignty of God, the more and more I’ll understand why Jesus did what He did so early in the morning.  The existence of these very chapters testifies to my willingness to open myself up to God’s direction through prayer and total absorption in His Word.

In St. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he commanded the Ephesians to “put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 5:11-17 NIV, emphasis mine).  In Paul’s metaphorical suit of armor, all the elements are defensive save one: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

 

Copyright ©2013 by David C. Hughes

 

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: