Chapter 6 Restoration and The Cycle
The most important thing in life is to know that God loves us and that we can trust him. We must understand that God’s purpose is to transform us into his children. He doesn’t want to permanently discourage us when he chastises us, but rather inspire us to follow his Spirit and seek after the things of heaven. When he decides that we are ready to continue the process of learning and transformation, then he will heal and restore our lives. In his timing and wisdom, we will be re-established to a condition that is susceptible for spiritual growth, so eventually the painful season of discipline will come to an end. In this chapter I will discuss why and how God restores us from the painful pit of failure and point out the inescapable fact that we must re-face and eventually learn how to overcome all our weaknesses by the power of God’s Spirit. Finally, I will reveal the embarrassing pattern of failure for my life.
Why does God restores us:
The main reason God restores our lives is because he loves us and he doesn’t want to see us fail or perish. Don’t forget that God demonstrated his great love for us when he died on the cross and shed his blood for our sins. He cares for us beyond our wildest dreams. As soon as we put our faith in Christ, God instantly adopts us into his family and calls us his children. He is our loving Father and wants us to prosper in his Kingdom, as well as overcome the darkness of this world. (John 3:16) That is our purpose in life. He created us to be a kingdom and civilization of people that will follow his footsteps. He has many wonderful things planned for us that we can only imagine. (Rev. 2:26, 2 Tess 2:12, Eph. 2:10)
How God Restores us:
After God decides that our season of chastisement is over, he will immediately begin to restore us by filling our hearts with his Spirit. Through his grace and love, he will nurture and replenish our souls by his Spirit and power. The fruits of his Spirit will begin to increase in our lives once again. We will experience all the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that we were missing. (1 Peter 5:10) God builds, strengthens and restores us, so that we can continue to workout our salvation by faithfully overcoming our weaknesses through his Spirit.
Reface our challenges and failures:
After we have developed some spiritual stamina and momentum, God fully intends on putting us through the “Test” again. There is no skipping school for God’s children. It doesn’t work that way. God will not allow us to miss out on learning a valuable lesson. He will challenge us again to see if we have learned from our failure. If we are fast learners, we will not repeat the same mistake over and over.
Even though we are saved from death, wrath and condemnation, we can still live in perpetual defeat here on earth if we ignore the lessons of God. We must learn that we can not succeed without God. He doesn’t want us to keep failing so he is teaching us how to depend on him and overcome all our challenges. The faster we learn to rely on God’s power and Spirit, the less likely we will fall into the same traps and repeat the same mistakes.
God wants us to pass every test that we face, so that we will mature and develop godly character, so that we can be his witnesses here on earth. Every time we overcome an obstacle in our lives through God, our relationship with him gets stronger and our testimony strengthens. It may take decades to finally overcome some of the habits and strongholds in our lives, but by faith we must believe and work towards victory. Thank God for second chances.
Examples of re-facing challenges and failures:
Israel- Failure to overcome:
In the Ancient Scriptures, we see that the nation of Israel took 40 years to get through the wilderness, when it should have only taken them 11 days. They were not grateful for God’s provisions and complained, so they remained geographically paralyzed until they died off. Only those who trusted in God and did not complain were allowed to pass through. It was because of their refusal to submit to God that they remained lost and unproductive all those years. After the season of chastisement was over, God allowed the nation to move forward towards their purpose and destiny.
We also learn that one of God’s prophets, Jonah, decided to go in the opposite direction of where God told him to go. God sent a giant whale to swallow him until he repented and cried out for God to save him. As soon as his chastisement was over, the whale spit him out so that he could go and do what God had originally commanded. He didn’t get out of his responsibility by running away, but only made his life worse. He should have just went and obeyed the first time.
I had to re-face my problems:
Like Jonah, I would regularly go in the opposite direction of what God was telling me. I would hang around the wrong people, places and things, until I ended up in the belly of a whale crying out to God to save me again. Every time God restored me I had to re-face the same challenges, weaknesses and fears in my life. There was no escaping it.
For example, I tried to escape being a father when I was 18 years old because I was selfish and afraid. As it turned out later in life, my daughter and my grandkids had to move in with me because they had no place to live. I now help her raise the kids and have become a decent father after all. All I had to do was listen to God, but instead, it has ended up taking me 30 years to achieve something that should have only taken me a few short years to accomplish.
God is perfect and he demands that we follow his pattern. Although it is impossible for us to be perfect within our own human efforts, many fail to understand that we are newly fashioned creatures, quickened with God’s Holy Spirit and power now. We can, by faith, “learn” how to follow God through the power of his Spirit which lives inside us. (Phil 4:13) God is very merciful and gracious with us, but he will not allow us to remain in our old sinful nature. Since we have been “Born of God’s Spirit” now, he expects us to diligently put forth our best effort.
When we don’t do our best to follow God, we will suffer the consequences. My life was one big spiritual rollercoaster ride, with vicious cycles of hope and despair, victory and defeat, peace and chaos. There were brief moments in my life where I actually followed and obeyed God, but mostly I failed to do my best. I repeated the same mistakes for decades, before I finally learned to completely surrender my life to God.
The Cycle of my Life:
Some people are slow learners when it comes to spiritual truths. I was a very stubborn, disobedient and rebellious child most of my life. I am absolutely astonished at how much grace and mercy God has shown me. Although I know God loves me and has spared my life, he has definitely chastised me for my dissidence. I am still experiencing the repercussions of some of my mistakes. No one gets away with their rebellion forever, especially the children of God. I know I am forgiven and have eternal life, but the residual effects of my bad choices remain.
Once we jump off the building, we can say we are sorry all we want, but we are still going to hit the ground. Fortunately, God has restored my soul and given me new opportunities out of the ashes of my past.
Let me start at the beginning of my ridiculous and unbelievable cycle of failure and briefly highlight just a few of the significant turning points. Since I first heard about Jesus, when I was a young child, I had always struggled to completely commit myself to him. I followed the unstable pattern of my parents like a high school text book. Sometimes I was committed to God, but mostly I served my flesh. I was very wishy-washy, flaky, superficial, lukewarm and inconsistent to say the least.
My earliest experience with trying to obey God failed miserably the very first time I was tested. I was only 12-14 yrs old when I first heard the Gospel of Christ and I was pretty shaken up by the whole ordeal. Some young new energetic Baptist pastor really knew how to put the fear of God in me that day, when he emphasized the reality of “Fire and Hell” for all those who rejected Christ. Wow…
I ended up going to the alter that day, drenched in all my frightful tears, but I’m not sure if I really completely surrendered my life to God or not. I was so young that I may have been traumatized by the intense message of “Fire and Brimstone” rather than making a quality decision to submit to God.
I do know, however, that the very first time I was around all my old friends from school, I instantly failed to stand firm in my faith. I didn’t show any change in my heart and continued to act profane and sinful as usual. Although I knew what I was doing was wrong, I pushed aside any spiritual grievances and carried on with the foolishness of my youth.
My first real adult commitment to God:
The next time in my life that I attempted to follow Jesus, I was 22 yrs old. This time I had made a serious commitment to Christ and there was no doubt in my mind that I had personally met God. I received a clear “Revelation of God” and understood that he was calling me into his salvation and Kingdom. I received the Holy Spirit and felt all the wonderful, blissful ecstasy feelings of being freshly regenerated by God. I never felt such intense happiness and joy in my life.
I was literally transformed into a new creature. There was plenty of evidence that God’s Spirit was working to transform me. My behavior, words, desires and outlook on life were completely different. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I told everyone I knew about Jesus and how he changed me. I was truly “Born of God.” How can anyone change so drastically without God?
This was the first time that I had completely quit drugs and alcohol; I mean the desire was “totally” gone. I began reading and studying the Bible everyday, going to church regularly, participating in every small groups that I could find. I loved my new life in Christ, but before I knew it, the blissful feelings and high energy enthusiasm began to wear off as the soon as the “time of testing” came along.
Time of Testing:
Things were going pretty good for a while, until it was time to find out what I was really made of. It didn’t take long before the blissful feelings wore off and the worries of the world engulfed me. Suddenly, what seemed like an easy task had turned into a serious challenge. I noticed that my dedication to God was growing weaker with every new test that I faced, while my old evil desires began to increase. My pride and arrogance restrained me from making any wise decisions, so I slowly slipped back into self-destruction.
Blissful Feeling turn to Hell:
Oh, the joy of meeting the Lord…. Only those who have truly met God on a personal level understand what I am talking about. God gives us an initial burst of excitement when we first place our trust in him. This short lived, energetic emotional high is designed to encourage us to continue in God, not to sustain us permanently.
No one told me that the real “Joy of the LORD,” is not some blissful emotion that quickly disappears, but that it comes from the perseverance of faithfully trusting in the eternal promises of God. This kind of deep “spiritual Joy” is a long lasting fruit of the Holy Spirit and can be present in our hearts even when we are suffering from the trials of life. The real “Joy of the Lord” is our strength, not the ever changing human emotions. (Nehemiah 8:10)
My love for God was tested when the superficial feelings of happiness disappeared and all I had left was “raw faith.” I began to learn what a real relationship with God was all about and how to live by faith alone, without relying on human emotions. I was not ready to allow God to teach me this yet, so within 7 months of committing my life to Christ, I was starting to deteriorate fast. Within 9 months I completely stopped going to church, praying, reading the Bible and being faithful to my wife. Within a year and a half I was completely saturated by the lusts of the world once again.
Sadly, before falling backwards, I remember reassuring my first wife that she never had to worry about me hurting her, as long as I was going to church and following Jesus. I promised her that I would never hurt, cheat or lie to her as long as I followed the teachings of God. I told her to only fear the day that I might stop obeying God.
Unfortunately, that day came very quickly. I failed every test and succumbed to every temptation I was faced with. I ended up falling back into the same self-destructive, diabolically self-centered behavior that I used to do, except this time, I was even more despicable then ever. My selfish attitude was over the top and I was totally convinced that I was missing out on the best parts of my life by being married.
I was only 24 yrs old and in my prime of life, so I neglected my responsibilities as a husband and father. I didn’t care about anyone but my self. I turned into the most cruel, selfish, evil, disgusting low life imaginable and eventually abandoned my wife and 1 year old baby girl. I didn’t realize how fast I was spiraling out of control at the time, because all I could think about was the fun I was missing out on.
Finally on my own:
At first, it was very exciting to have all my freedom and resources to myself. I met all the right people, who had all the right things, which orchestrated the perfect circumstances for leading me rapidly into darkness. The Bible says that sin is pleasurable for a short season and it certainly was. I can not deny that I was having the best time of my life, for a brief moment. But eventually all those pleasures turned into a horrible nightmare. Before I knew it, I became a slave to the very things that I was set free from and the excitement had turned into tormented, which lasted for years.
At that time in my life I was ignorant to the hidden spiritual forces of the world that are lurking behind the scenes. These evil spirits are very efficient at seducing the naïve towards destruction. But looking back now, I can clearly see the clever influences of those sinister spirits manipulating my life with their perfectly calculated temptations.
Yes, the Devil and his angels know us better than we know ourselves sometimes. They knew exactly how to manipulate the circumstances in my life and lure me deeper into a living Hell. At the time, I was too blinded by my insatiable appetite for lustful pleasures and couldn’t see that I was being led to the slaughter. Little did I know that I was headed down an even more dangerous path than I could have ever known. The spiritual bondage that was coming next enslaved me with oppressive chains for years to follow.
Eventually, the newness of my freedom and fun began to fade, so I went looking for ways to extend my superficial emotional high. I impulsively decided to go to a palm reader and seek out some excitement and adventure in my life, but that was probably the biggest mistake I could have ever made. I was more curious than anything and didn‘t think much of it, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
The psychic offered me a quick thrill when she told me that I would meet a girl with long dark hair in 6 months. Of course, I didn’t believe her. I thought she was a scam, so I left and completely forgot about what she said, until about 6 months later when I had actually did meet a girl with long dark hair. Even though she was married that didn’t stop us from committing adultery and living together for a few years.
I either forgot or totally ignored what the Bible teaches about “seeking after other spirits” to guide our lives. Perusing the occult is forbidden by God. He hates this sin in particular and calls it an abomination. It is considered spiritual adultery to go after another spiritual source for knowledge and answers to our lives, rather than seek the true and living God directly. I paid a terrible price for this decision which lasted for years (Lev. 20:6)
Adultery and Addiction:
At first, I found the excitement and adventure that I was looking for. She and I had the best time of our lives together, before the Hellish consequences began. The adultery and the drugs blended together to make a pleasant island of temporary bliss. Within 12 months, I experimented with all kinds of new drugs. I particularly favored crack and ecstasy. They were absolutely the best drugs that I had ever tried in my life. They made me feel wonderful and alive. We squandered all our money so that we could maintain our high for as long as we could, but our island paradise soon turned into an explosive volcano.
Eventually, the season of fun came to a crashing halt, as the dreadful pain and fear began to ambush me. No matter how hard I tried, nothing satisfied my insatiable appetite for more bliss. My relationship with this woman suddenly began to dilapidate, because there was no trust between us; how can two adulterers trust each other? Even the drugs couldn’t get me high anymore, like they did at first. Everything that was once pleasurable had completely turned into misery. The harsh chastisements of God had finally begun.
I know that this nightmare was a direct result for my visit to the physic. Ever since I went to her, my life had drastically deteriorated. Although I recreationally used drugs throughout my life, I had never been addicted to anything before. What was once a casual fun experience had put chains around my neck. I had become secretly addicted to crack cocaine, which brought a terrible fear into my life. I had always heard about others being addicted to drugs, but never thought it would happen to me. What a nightmare. I cried all the time, but still couldn’t stop using the drugs.
A Little Hope:
I remember one time in the midst of my darkest moments, desperately crying out to God for help, that he showed me his kindness for a brief moment. He gave me a promise that I will never forget. He revealed to me the scripture in Psalms 37:24, “Although he falls he will not utterly be cast down, for the LORD upholds him with his hands.” I remember briefly being comforted by this promise, knowing that God was still near to me and holding me up. Although it took a while before God restored me, I was temporarily comforted by the Lord.
With that new inspiration of hope, I tried to figure a way out of the black hole that I was in, but the only thing that I could do was remain humble, constantly cry and wait patiently. I was clinging to God with everything I had, but was still not having any real breakthroughs. I could not stop using the drugs. Although I was reading the Bible, praying and writing in my journal, I still did not completely surrender everything to God yet. He was not going to restore me until I surrendered everything in my life to him. He brought it to my attention that I was still living in adultery with that woman I met through the physic, and as soon as I repented from that situation God began slowly began to restore my life.
After a long season of suffering, God eventually restored my life. He allowed me to repent from all the adultery and drugs. He opened and closed many doors in my life to guide me where I needed to be. I lost contact with all the drug dealers and found the strength to turn away from the sexual immorality. Even the desire to use drugs had completely vanished again. As long as I followed him, my life continued to recover. I was content and happy.
I had discovered that God is eager to pour out his blessings into our lives and fill us with his Spirit. He desires for us to prosper and produce good fruits. I went from crying and living in misery everyday, to smiling and rejoicing once again. It felt absolutely wonderful to recover from the miserable bondage of drug addiction. The chains of darkness were broken and I was free again. Unfortunately, it didn’t last very long.
The beginning of a lifelong cycle:
So there I was, once again, feeling free and emotionally high, as if nothing had ever happened to me. Although I was extremely thankful to be experiencing the fruits of love, joy and peace again, I did not treasure my recovery as I should have. I was very fortunate to be out of the black hole that I was in, but I neglected to learn any wisdom. I was doing really good for a while until the inevitable “Time of Testing” came back to pay me another visit and the old patterns and weaknesses began to grip me again.
As I began to slowly let my guard down, the perfect storm was about to hit me. Little by little, like clock work, the temporarily feelings of bliss began to wear off and my pride began to take over. I conveniently forgot the pain and suffering from my previous failure and the “Fear of the Lord” was no where to be found. My sense of urgency and desperation disappeared as I became overly confident in my own abilities.
I had no idea that I was about to be suckered back into the same tricks that tripped me the first time. I was being tested and tempted with the same things that I had failed at before. For some reason I wasn’t aware that I had any reoccurring problems or permanent weaknesses to constantly be aware of. I didn’t know that I would have to reface and overcome these things before I could live a fulfilling life.
The constant demand and pressure to overcome my weaknesses was an irritation to say the least. I wanted an easy Christian life. I had no desire to work hard at my new life in Christ. I wanted God to do it all for me. I just wanted to be filled with the good feelings of love, joy and peace and not have to deal with the realities of testing and temptation. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it goes.
The Cycle of Failure and Recovery:
Drugs and women are my weaknesses. So what did I do? I got involved with another woman who became addicted to drugs with me and I got married to her. Needless to say, my second marriage failed miserably also. We met while using recreational drugs and decided to get married after knowing each other for only 11 weeks. We quit using drugs the day we got married, which was awesome, but unfortunately, our sobriety only lasted for about 5 months. The usual self-destructive patterns flared up again, bringing a stronger measure of pain and suffering along with it.
I thought getting married again would help me dedicate my life to God, but all we did was drag each other down with polarizing weaknesses. We relapsed and recovered at least a half a dozen times during our 10 year marriage. Occasionally, when we were sober, we did manage to make some progress. Unfortunately, the house and business plans we had all went down the drain, due to our inability to overcome the drugs and alcohol.
We tried really hard to make it work for as long as we could, but we always managed to allow the drugs and alcohol to destroy all the progress that we were making. With each relapse our marriage would deteriorate more, until we destroyed all the respect we had for each other. I knew our marriage was going to have a painful ending. Finally, after a decade, she had enough of my self-centeredness and abuse, so she decided to leave me. Now that I look back, I am amazed that she put up with me for that long. She really loved me, but I threw away another great marriage and opportunity to live a productive life.
Another season of chastisement:
None of my many attempt to sober up lasted for very long. God poured out his chastisements on me many times throughout our ten year marriage. As I’ve already mentioned, I lost everything valuable in my life. My wife got pregnant by another man, I lost my house, my furniture, my motorcycle, a car, my business and 90% of my savings. I lost my motivation and spiraled into a deep depression. I quit going to the gym and started drinking about a fifth of alcohol everyday, which I had never done before. I was slowly killing myself, while crying every night over the predicament I had gotten myself in. I completely quenched the Holy Spirit and became filled with rage, sorrow and self pity. I wanted to burn my house down. I was lost and confused for a while, until God had mercy one me yet another time.
God restored me again:
After the necessary season of pain and suffering had come to an end, God healed and restored me once again. When the time was right, he picked me up and stood me on the rock of hope. He gave me the strength to stop drinking and took away the hatred that I had for my wife. All the sorrow, pain, self pity and depression was totally wiped away in the blink of an eye. I even put a picture of my ex-wife’s new baby on my refrigerator.
This complete turn around totally shocked everyone. They were expecting me to fight with bitter rage, but God regenerated my heart and filled me with his peace and love. There is no other way that I can explain this radical transformation. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time that I slipped back into my old patterns.
My foolishness and ignorance regrettably caused me to fall down the drain of despair several more times after that. This cycle of failure and recovery lasted for decades. I only intended to write a small pocket size testimony, so I can’t list all the times that I cycled through the bondage of addiction and recovery. Suffice it to say that each time I fell back, the bondage got worse and the recovery took longer.
Although God had proved his unfailing love to me many times, he didn’t let me get away with failing his tests. I was not making the kind of spiritual progress that a man my age should have been making. It became increasingly difficult to repent and endure the intense chastisements of God every time I fell back, also. At this point, it has become obvious that I would need some kind of drastic measure of discipline if I was ever going to grow up and follow God; so that is exactly what God did to me.
Final Chastisement, Death of Brother:
Over the years, God demonstrated his immeasurable love and patience towards me, but due to my stubbornness he was forced to apply a very harsh measure of discipline. God finally reached the point that he used “death” to teach me a lesson. This severe chastisement finally caused me to mature.
We never think about death until it is too late. God decided that it was time to allow death to be my painful teacher, when he took my brother’s life. We were roommates so I was the one who found him laying flat on his face in his bedroom. He passed out like he had always done, but this time he never woke up. The coroner didn’t even know why he died, so they finally concluded that he died from alcohol poisoning. All I know is that he was stubborn, like me, and refused to repent from his life of substance abuse.
I found my brother passed out many times in his bedroom thinking that he was dead. I even told him that I thought I was going to find him dead one day, but he just laughed about it. The most shocking thing about his death was hearing him profane the name of Jesus, so viciously the day before he died. I could hear him through the door, in a rage of anger, he was profaning and blaspheming the name of God. I had never heard such vulgar aggressive blasphemy and profanity in all my life. Then, as it would turn out, he dropped dead the next day.
I know in my heart why my brother died and no one can tell me different. He refused to listen to the warnings of God and his time finally ran out. Eventually, when God decides to take us, there is nothing we can do about it. He will take us to our judgment. Time will run out for all of us one day and we will have to give an account to our creator.
God was using my brother’s death to increase the level of fear in my life and force me to pay attention. Well, it worked. I instantly realized that it could have been me who died. I’ve been walking the straight and narrow ever since this happened. I have been clean and sober now longer than ever in my life. I can’t believe it took so much for me to follow God’s ways. Why God spared my life and took my brother’s instead is still a great mystery to me.
Confess and repent:
It is very important to understand that before we can be restored we must confess all our sins and ask God to forgive us. When the time of our terrible chastisement is over, God will restore the humble and pure of heart. As long as we humbly realize it’s our own fault that we are being punished and we ask God to forgive us, we can trust and believe that his love will restore us.
Before we can confess our sins we need to do a thorough inventory of ourselves. We must empty our souls out before the Lord and really dig deep inside to flush out any hidden issues. Spiritual reservations and secret motives will eventually spring to life and bring us down. I had to do some serious soul searching and discovered many cleverly hidden issues in my heart. There were times when I thought I may have has some mental problems. So I began to pray and asked God to heal me from any real or potential mental diseases and illnesses. I also asked him to reveal and heal me from any hidden subconscious or spiritual blocks that I may not have been aware of. This type of honesty, humility and purity will show God that we are ready for another opportunity to obey and grow in his Spirit.
In conclusion, regardless of how many times we fall or repeat the same mistakes, God still loves us and desires to restore us so that we can have a real relationship with him. If we can remain faithful and endure the his time of discipline, God will restore, renew and give us another opportunity to overcome our weaknesses and live productive lives.
The most important thing that I’ve learned through all my troubles is that I can trust my God and Savior, Jesus. He has proven himself to be real, loving and dependable, no matter how many times I have fallen. He has promised to save me from all my troubles, fears and traps, even death can not touch me.
I may never fully comprehend why my life went the way that it did. I may never understand my self-destructive tendencies, but I must trust God. I can’t explain why I’ve deceived and ruthlessly hurt others, but I have repented seek forgiveness. I am puzzled concerning my weaknesses, addictions and repetitive failures, but I will keep working at following the teachings of God. Regardless of life’s paradoxes, I realize that it’s not necessary for me to fully understand everything before I surrender my life to God. I can be happy and hopeful right now, while I am struggling through life, because my God is with me.
Looking back now, I know it was God’s Love all along that was keeping me, even while I was still wallowing in the mud like a pig. I have truly learned what Grace means. Even while I was running away from God, he had a plan for my life. Even the resulting agony of my own bad decisions was inevitably factored into the design of my life for an ultimate purpose; a purpose to testify to you how much God loves you. In part two of my testimony I will discuss how to walk in the freedom which God has promised to all of his children.