Paraclete Forum Archives
From a recent email discussion:
Dear Mrs. Stedman,
Thank you for your faithfulness and your stewardship with your gifts that God has given you. you and your late husband have been such an influence on my young Christian life.
I want to tell you something. Four years ago I met a girl like none I have ever met before or since. I was 20 years old and working at a camp in Massachusetts, and I was having a lot of fun.
Then a couple of new counselors showed up and one of them was a girl from California, and I was immediately floored. for the next three months I was half in a state of delirious joy, because I got to see her almost every day, but also half miserable, because I couldn't function the right way because all my energy was spent thinking about her.
Looking back now I realize I was focusing on her and not God, and that hurt our relationship to each other. She was the most beautiful person I have ever met, inside and out, and I was astounded at how she was totally devoted to God.
It was like God opened a window of heaven for a bit of time to experience what His pleasures actually are. at the time I was very immature and selfish, I had partied a lot at college and thought I was pretty cool, but she made me feel very small in a certain way. she was not impressed at how I was, just who I was.
We spent some time together at camp, but I always felt like she had the upper hand in a way and was leading me. We talked a lot together, and she would come crying about some things that happened and I would hold her while she wept. Anyway, when camp was over she went back to California and I to Texas, and it felt like I was going to miss her a lot more that she would me. I can say my life has not been the same since.
I am writing this to you just to say that I have tried everything possible to quit thinking about her. I haven't talked to her, except for a couple of emails, since that time. I thought it was a sign of weakness to keep thinking about her, and for awhile I was pretty successful at not doing it, but those times were always my darkest spiritually. I got back into my party habits and started seeing many girls.
But God quickly showed me the futility of it and as I got closer to Him, the more thoughts about her would come to me. I noticed that as I started giving myself to God, I became increasingly lonely as I did not enjoy the company I was with, and my friends felt the same way. but I started to be an example to them and many have told me that I was influential, though I never knew I was doing anything.
I have recently graduated from college, and after a short time of rest, I am becoming increasingly restless but relying on God. I have been spending hours reading His word, praying and fasting, and your husbands website has truly been a blessing. The more time I spend with God, the more I think of her, and I am very confused.
I have had many thoughts about moving to California lately, though I have never been there and have no idea what I would do. I am committed to do God's will no matter where it takes me, for in His presence in fullness of joy. anyway, I could write a long time, but I just wanted to tell you, its like God showed me your email address so I could share this with His servant. I just want some insight from someone who has seen much of what God can do. I thank you for your time, and praise God for examples of His wholeness like you and Ray.
Thank you Mrs. Stedman.
I consider it a great privilege to have contributed in any way to what God is doing in your life, Andrew. We are so amazed that our Father would give us this opportunity to perpetuate our Ray's teaching ministry worldwide, and delighted for any help it is to you in your pilgrimage.
Andrew, I guess most of us mortals can identify with the passion you describe. The "falling in love" phenomenon is "such as is common to man"--woman too! As with any passion, it can become obsessive and become dominant and controlling. It is that aspect of it that makes it sinful. Ironically, its focus shifts from one person to another, as you have described, so that gives us a clue that it is not necessarily the person but more the very passion itself, or what is sometimes referred to as being "in love with love". In that sense it is similar to being controlled by drugs or alcohol, etc., in that it creates a sensation one might want to repeat just for the sake of the sensation.
The peril for one who is a disciple of Jesus is that it displaces Him, refocuses our attention on our own appetites or desires, and in the end keeps us in bondage to the obsession. I believe that is a prime example of what Jesus is addressing when he tells us "Seek *first* the kingdom of God and His righteousness", then promises that when we get our priorities straight "all these things will be added". The same thought is expressed in Psa. 37:3-7. Note there the focus is: (1) Trust in the Lord, and do good, (2) Take delight in the Lord, (3) Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, (4) Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him (fret not yourself). Again, when our focus and expectations are on our relationship with the Lord Jesus, the results are security, fulfillment and God will be then free to act according to His good and perfect will in our lives.
You may have heard the old gospel song, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." That is not simply wishful thinking, Andrew. It is your heritage as Christ's disciple. Spend time in the Word, not just reading it as any other book, but as God himself speaking directly to your mind and heart. The Word of God is living, active, sharp, piercing, discerning and exposing (Heb. 5:12,13). It is also healing, redemptive, and deeply satisfying as it reveals the Living Word, the Person of the Lord Jesus.
Turn your expectations upon the indwelling Person of Christ. "May God himself, the God of peace, make you holy in every part, and keep you sound in spirit, soul and body, without fault when our Lord Jesus Christ comes. He who calls you is faithful and *He will do it*!" I Thes. 5:23,24
I am one of a small team consisting of persons far more gifted than I, and if you wish I will be happy to send along your inquiry to them. Let me know if we can help you in any way. It is a privilege to join you in your journey with Him.
Amazed by grace, Elaine
Saturday, September 1, 2001