I have wanted to write an update on my health - but I have had little time to do so. Since I started taking SuperMom vitamins (read this for details) I have seen a lot of physical improvement. Ten weeks ago I could not hold a pen or cut my own steak. Now, I am able to do those things plus lift a 70 pound hay bale by its strings! We attribute this to answered prayers and the vitamins.
While my physical improvement is HUGE to me, I have experienced something that is even more important! On Monday, June 16th of this year (2008) I experienced a movement of God on my life like I have never felt before! As many of you may have figured out by now (if you were reading between the lines) I have struggled with depression for a long time (as long as I can remember). During that time I have changed a lot in my Christian beliefs... these things being doctrinal. I enjoyed studying Scripture and doctrines, but there was something missing. I had this intellectual understanding of Christ, but no power. I witnessed to people (on occasion) because I knew it was expected of me. I did many things because I knew to do them. But, two weeks ago God changed EVERYTHING!
Here's how it happened... Paul and I were praying (as we do every night after the kids go to bed) and I was weeping and mourning for my sin. I was crying out to God regarding my depression and the way I treated my kids. ("Why do I always yell at them? Why am I so short tempered? Why can't I change?") I was so depressed these past few months that I wanted to be dead. I hated myself and most everyone else. I hated my kids because they brought out the worst in me. I hated living. I slept in every morning and did my best to get out of cooking every meal. I had Paul and the kids walking on glass around me - because they feared my wrath. Yes, I mean wrath - the ungodly, unhealthy emotion - rage. I was reading the book of James over and over again, feeling convicted but totally unable to change. I told one friend that I felt completely devoid of the Holy Spirit. Sure, I had knowledge, but no love. Well, that night I prayed a prayer that I had prayed before many times, "Lord, If I am not a Christian right now, please -God, please make me one now." Within minutes of this prayer and praying to God Psalm 51, I felt a HUGE change. I was all at once weeping for joy knowing that depression was ripped away from me. Years of hurt, anger, rage, and wrath were ripped away from me. I was crying out to God for the salvation of everyone I know! I asked for salvation of everyone on my road (by name), in my extended family, in my city, in the world! I have never had such a heart for the lost - ever! I was weeping, begging God to forgive sins that I had held onto too long. I was begging God to take the millstone off my neck that I had been dragging around as a result of the way I was treating my children, all the while claiming to be a Christian. I knew I was changed. All of the sudden I wanted to be alive! I had lived under the heavy burden of depression for 8 years and all of the sudden the burden was taken away. I felt - for the first time ever - peace and contentment.
What did Paul think of all of this? He wanted to believe that I had changed... but after all, I had stated many times before that I had changed. How could he know that this was totally different?! I knew that time would show that God had worked in me life. Not for my sake, but that Paul (and everyone else who doubts) would see that God has done a miracle in me!
The very next morning I got out of bed feeling thrilled to be alive! I was ready to embrace this new life of peace and joy (things I had not felt for so very long)! I couldn't wait to serve my family and love my children. I was constantly asking myself how I could make things better for them, instead of trying to just get by. The selfish, self-serving Bethany was gone! I served Paul and the kids all day like never before! I did not yell at all!, and I couldn't remember why I ever had!
Over the past few weeks I have noticed A WHOLE HEAP of changes!!! Here's a big one - as long as I have been married I have always lived from one project or one special occasion to the next. I was always filling my time with these projects to keep myself from thinking about my own self-loathing. Only, nothing would EVER satisfy... Nothing would ever make me happy! Nothing would ever bring me true joy or peace! Yet, I kept going on, because I did not know what else to do! One of my favorite projects was moving! Paul and I are known for our seemingly rash, cross-country moves. I can't tell you how many moves we have made in 8 years - I have long since lost count! I knew that moving would keep me occupied for months! Not to mention new friends and trees and animals... moving was the best escape of all... EXCEPT that it was no escape at all!!! I never found any peace, joy, or freedom from depression with any move.
These past few months in my home have been awful! I can't imagine any other man staying with such a miserable, quarrelsome wife. I knew better, yes! But, still I struggled. I acknowledged Paul as the head of some things, but not all. I was reading some great Christian books and the Bible, but it only made me more depressed. Each time I read a book on biblical womanhood that convicted me, I felt miserable. I would beg and plead for God to make me into that kind of woman. But, it never seemed to happen... there was no power to change, I just kept getting more depressed. Would I ever be well? I was putting hope in medicines ... hoping that if I could get the right doctor and the right medicine, everything would be well. BUT, that was a lie! I was believing a lie - trying to put a band-aid on a "heart problem."
Another thing... I am eating SO much less. I eat until I get full and not a bite more, I don't need to. There are so many other ways I have changed.. I could go on here for hours! For example, I used to think I was ugly - couldn't stand to have my picture taken. But, now I think I am pretty, I thank God for what I look like. And, I smile a real, hearty smile (teeth exposed) - even for pictures.
So, to what do I attribute this new change in me? I say that the Holy Spirit has come into my life like never before. I think I was a Christian before, because I loved God and loved the Word. I felt conviction for sin, and I loved the doctrines that I hold to. Yet, there wasn't power behind this love... and that is what I think has happened. Let me remind you that I was raised Baptist and went to a Baptist college. I have had many teachers/preachers who have gone to great lengths to explain away some occasions in Acts where the Holy Spirit came at a time other than the person's original conversion. Baptists believe that the Holy Spirit comes at the moment of conversion and there is no need to ask for a second filling. That is, most Baptists believe that. John Piper believes something a little different, something liken to Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. (You can research that on your own...)
I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit came into my life and brought His power in a big way. I had some indwelling of the Holy Spirit since my conversion years ago - that accounts for the conviction I felt for sins and the illumination I had in studying Scripture. But, I feel like He descended upon me with all His power 2 weeks ago. I cannot explain this any other way. In family worship we have been going through Acts (in the evenings). There are so many times when the Disciples prayed over men specifically to receive the Holy Spirit... we cannot deny that these texts are there. BUT, we can try to explain them away as I have been doing my whole life. I see now that I was crippling myself!!!
If I was stranded on a desert island and found a Bible, but I had never read it before - how would I read it? If God was pleased to save me through the reading of that Bible and I had no one to instruct me as to the meaning of the Scriptures except for the Scriptures themselves... would I still think that men did not need to ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit? I think that I would read Acts in a much simpler way. I think that I would come to the conclusion that a person does need to ask to be filled after he is saved.
You may disagree with me... you may quite adamantly disagree with me. And, that's ok - I was once in your shoes! I will pray for you that God would be pleased to touch your life in the way He has touched mine and you can see for yourself the power and freedom that is to be found!!! I am a new person - praise God He has given me the Spirit that I did not even know to ask for!!!