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From the Hand of God

Posted by Theresa7 
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From the Hand of God
March 23, 2011 12:42AM
Some of you may know a bit of my story, but here is a bit more... or at least a summary of some of the stuff I want to share about in my blog.

My parents were radically saved in the mid-70's, so I grew up in churches. But it was never church for church sake, it was about Jesus -- at least that was what we thought and intended. It was never just about tradition.

I not only did the church thing, but I fully intended to become a missionary. I studied Linguistics in College, so I could one day join Wycliffe Bible Translators, yada yada yada. I thought I would marry a pastor and live a life in service to God and his people. In my teens I was active in the leadership committee for the youth group, attended EVERYTHING, and even sang regularly for Church Special Music (it was a traditional church with one leader who 'directed' at the podium with the pianist accompanying, so there was no "team" to join there). In college I was a part of the leadership of InterVarsity and the International Student Christian Fellowship. After college, I became part of a Foursquare church and joined the worship team. I was up front every Sunday, 2 services, for years.
Even after I got married, we continued church and worship team involvement wherever we went. Until.... everything changed. Life has not been the same. This is the point at which things got interesting, and this is what I want to blog about.

Long story short (because I have one particular event that I'd like to share, but I want to give it a little context...), we have friends who -- about 4 years ago -- encountered a group of people (6-10 of them) calling themselves "The Body".

"The Body" were out of the box people who actually introduced us to TGJ. MUCH of what started us on the path of freedom from religious thinking began with them. I am very glad of what we learned. BUT (that's a BIG BUT) it was also a season that plunged us into despair and darkness. I must repeat -- MUCH of it was amazingly wonderful and freeing, but it was also enslaving and debilitating. Sound like a cult yet? Well, just wait till you hear more of the story -- it will sound even more like a cult later on.

Now, on the the particular event I wanted to share...

You must understand that "The Body" spoke of freedom and exploration - of learning who God is, what he is really like. They were so convinced that God would reveal himself that they were usually very reluctant to volunteer their opinions about anyone else's revelation. I think their purpose in holding back was to force us to ask God rather than depend on them. Which is weird, because it turned out that "The Body" was all about being "in" or you were going to hell. So, on the outside they were all "Well, what do YOU think" or "What is God saying to YOU." but at the core, they wanted everyone to be and think like them -- a part of "The Body". (Talk about whiplash.)

I went through a season (a few months) where I was terrified of God. I had realized that my attempts to please God were really attempts to pay for my sins. I saw that by trying to achieve Grace, I was actually putting myself outside of it. (At least, that thought is what caused the fear.) There was one night in particular that I could not sleep -- Chills, then sweats, then diarhea, freezing cold, then burning hot. (Looking back, some of this may have been the onset of diabetes, but... who knows...) It was physical and emotional (spiritual and mental) torture.

The next morning, one from "The Body" asked how I'd slept. "I didn't" "Why not?"
I said,"I just kept thinking, 'There's no rest for the wicked.'"
Another from "The Body" uncharacteristically volunteered, "Well, that's not Dad."
It set me free -- with regard to why I could not sleep.

I had thought that God was telling me that verse to rub in my face that I was getting what I deserved; I was wicked, so I deserved to be miserable rather than sleep. I had spent the night trying to submit to this "will of God" and accept the torture as from his hand. But it was not God. It was not from his hand.

I now believe that the enemy of my soul was torturing me and speaking lies to me that night in the name of my precious Papa. Our enemy is a liar, after all. So, I am grateful that through that member of "The Body", I heard Papa's voice telling me that it wasn't him. My Papa loved me and he would not torture me without mercy and without hope like that.

So, when I say that not everything we think is from the hand of God really IS from our Papa <-- this is what I mean.
Re: From the Hand of God
March 24, 2011 11:14AM
Thanks for telling that story, T. You titled this post "From the Hand of God" and I think that hand is always on our shoulder, holding our hand, touching our head, .... not smacking us, swatting us, holding us down struggling while he forces something down our throats..........you get what I mean. It's all in how we see the hand, isn't it? because then if we have nights of torture like you did, we'll know right away.....That's not Dad.

Richard Rohr
if God does not love imperfect people, God has no one to love.
Re: From the Hand of God
March 26, 2011 02:20AM
itching to hear more Excited

Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God.
- Lenny Bruce
Re: From the Hand of God
March 26, 2011 11:56PM
Thanks Theresa, I admire you for being able to put it all together as you reflect. I guess as I look back at the long road to "here" I have been in those messes as well. We are always trying to lift those big rocks to see if God is under them...... but He tells us to rest in Him, to be still and know that He is God. I guess that we have to get tired of thrashing about a bit until we get it.....

Yes, would love to hear more.
Re: From the Hand of God
March 27, 2011 02:09PM
Thanks for your support and encouragement, guys! I appreciate it very much.

I've delayed telling this story for two main reasons:
1. I wasn't sure that I could tell it in a way which would make sense, that anyone would care, or that I wouldn't fall into confusion again. (Now, I'm willing to risk these possibilities.)
2. (This is gonna sound paranoid...) I believe that "The Body" watches. Yeah, I know, paranoid.

I mentioned that "they" are the ones who introduced me to TGJ. I know they look at that sight -- they don't really participate (to my knowledge), but they lurk. I would be very surprised if they did not also lurk here. Freedom of information, open-internet, they can, they have a right. They have not forced themselves on me (or any of us), but the fear is still there that they will "show up". Maybe we have grown enough and are now secure enough in Papa to withstand their confusing dogma / non-dogma, but I still don't want them showing up on my doorstep.

But, for healing and sharing sake, I'm gonna risk it. NeenerNeener
Re: From the Hand of God
March 27, 2011 02:43PM
How it all started....

We were living in Northern Indiana. We would meet weekly with another couple who lived in Elkhart. My hubby has known them since about 2000, I just met them in 2004. We'd have dinner, a bible study / sharing time, prayer, and that was it. It was as real as could be, in that we never put on a front of having it together -- but the boxes were still inside of us.

Fall of 2006, our friend met a few people from TB ("The Body" ). TB was a group of about 10 people who lived together in Pensacola. They were just traveling through Indiana at the time, but they said out-right that they were willing to show our friends how to live in the freedom they had. This was like a ray of hope to our friends.

Spring of 2007, some from TB came to stay with our friends. No one was sure if it would be a few days, a week, or what... It turned out to be from May of 2007 until Feb 2008. At first, my hubby and I still only went on Saturday, but it became a few times a week. There was even a season (Jan08) that we all thought we might live together in one house - it was close. When it came time to really decide, I just couldn't do it. We would have been sleeping on the couch, have one closet to use, and all the rest of our things would have to be put into storage or gotten rid of. I wanted my own space too much. (Is wanting a room to myself such a bad thing? Well,... it was enough to keep me from joining TB, so it was going to keep me from relationship with God. <--their interpretation)

Man, looking back it seems so obvious how icky it all was. But at the time,... they really did seem to have a GREAT wide-open relationship with Papa. It's tough -- even now -- to label them, since there was so much good.

You know "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore?"? Until I heard Wayne's assurance that it was fictional and that the book had had revisions and collaborators, I BELIEVED that the "John" in the book might have been the main fellow in TB. (Perhaps I'll call him "John", too.) John was the face of love. He was kind, gentle, funny, real (I think), insightful, etc. Even the idiosyncrasies in the book matched. The winking from across the room that made you instantly feel at home and cared for. The spontaneous back rub. The many questions -- when you had a question, he always had more. It was never about having the answer for you, but he would ask questions that would lead you to the root of the question -- usually something inside of you that was making you ask. As in the book, it was maddening, yet refreshing.
(See? really hard to describe)
Re: From the Hand of God
March 27, 2011 02:45PM
Theresa I don't know these people but dad does, he understand how you feel and has a close eye on you, and them! Keep getting deeper and deeper into dads perfect love, the less of us that is sticking out of it the less can be got at.

My friends in pub land are real friends but most are very anti the god they don't know, previously their stand point would of scared me I would fear a) I would have my views changed by thiers b) I didn't have the words to defend my faith or god or c) they would stop liking me.

Now, I don't know why I am secure in dads love they could show me scientific proof that their was no god but I would still know dad, I know dad doesn't have to be defended either and I really love my friends and they like me.

The funny thing is as much as they think belief in god is a joke they still are being provoked and used by god
Re: From the Hand of God
March 27, 2011 07:23PM
Am I reading this right, if you were unwilling to live in a communal way with them, these people believed you couldn't have a close relationship with God?

seems like this is where religions go offbase, when they've experienced something with God and create a box about it, "to have what we have, you must do what we do"....whether it's speak in tongues, baptize infants or refuse to baptize infants, be circumcised, blah, blah blah. The exclusiveness of this makes those who can't or won't play by the rules, feel rejected, not good enough, defective or something.

My husband belonged to a community (in Elkhart too!) when he was married the first time and he and his family lived in a household communally owned and shared all their possessions. It started out good, but became apparent that preserving the community was more important than loving others, and that there were levels of faithfulness. it wasn't really cultish though, like it sounds like yours was. and yet, there were people like your "John", who Tim remembers were so valid and real for that time and place. When Tim left, he was haunted for years with feelings that he couldn't quite measure up to a REAL commitment to God.
Re: From the Hand of God
March 28, 2011 05:09PM
haunted for years with feelings that he couldn't quite measure up to a REAL commitment to God.

Yeah...that Really well said. THAT is a big part (if not ALL) of the struggle....
Re: From the Hand of God
April 01, 2011 07:30PM
(((T7 and Family)))

Just want to say thank you for sharing those experiences. They are real, have the ability to help and heal. You help others to to think about how God can use anything and anyone and as long as He does we will bear witness in our hearts where we hide the truth of such great worth.

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