During the time timescale of the last chapter there were a couple of significant times of enlightenment that began to make a difference in my life. The first came in 1982 at a time when I felt so inadequate and depressed. I was looking out of my bedroom window when I saw a lady from my church walking down the street looking so happy and ‘together’ and striding out with great confidence. It had an immediate affect on me, why could I not be like that? I now know that I was only seeing at the appearance level, but at that point I just sank to my knees and cried out to God. I suddenly realised that my dialogue with God was coming out as a poem. The poem has since been a help to me and many others and was later published as an “editor’s choice” in a book of poems called “Praised Voices”.
THE MIND OF GOD
O my God, why do you leave me in despair and desolation?
When all around is seemingly glory and triumph
The very essence of life appears and disappears
As though they were just puppets, on a string
You mock me, You tantalise me, You hide your face.
Is it a game that you are playing?
Child, you have forgotten your prayers of yesteryear
What, me give up the things I hold so dear?
Lord, you know I want to change
But, how can You and I achieve the impossible?
It only seemed impossible to you
Because you did not have My infinite mind.
Remember the prayers that went unanswered at the time
The prayers you prayed that were impossible for me
For had I answered in the way that you had wished
Those other prayers of yours, the most important ones
Would have vanished like a vapour in the sea
And never would have brought you the life you long to see.
My love for you is more than just a fleeting feeling
To lose you would have been too great a price to pay
Your suffering has been your greatest treasure
To keep you close to me so come what may
THE MIND OF GOD WILL BE INSTILLED WITHIN YOU
So that you can live the life for which you pray.
Barbara Rogerson 1982
I continued to seek God and for a long time spent many night hours unable to sleep. I was getting more desperate and as written in the closing lines of the last chapter, I came to the point where I felt that nothing was working, God didn’t seem to care and it was too hard to go on living like this another day. I told God in the middle of the night that I was finished, I was giving up. Whereas to me it felt like the end, it was really the beginning of some new enlightenment on my journey. I clearly heard God say, “That’s all I have ever wanted of you, for you to give up your self effort and striving and allow me to be your life” He told me I was dead and it was only His life in me that would make a difference. I ran upstairs, woke Alan and said “I am dead, God’s told me I am dead!” Alan’s reaction in his sleepy state was to say “Oh! Yeah” and turned over and went back to sleep. I was excited for the first time in months and knew that something significant was happening, even though at that time I did not understand the living out of this revelation. I said to God, “I will not do another thing until I know that it is You doing it”.
On a practical level all I knew to do was give up all my activities and I stopped going to meetings and just waited on God. Initially I stayed in bed for two days as I did not know how else to stop, or what to do next. It looked like a breakdown but it was God’s way of getting me quiet. One enlightened preacher came to visit me and prophesied that as I came to the end of myself God would use my experiences to help others. This meant nothing to me at the time.
Our fellowship had grown quite large by now and we had been involved and deeply committed for 10 years. However this was also the time when there were many splits and breakaways in the house church movement worldwide and ours was no exception. We were pioneering, it was a time of learning and mistakes were made, particularly in the area of shepherding. I need to say that our then leader has since publicly acknowledged the mistakes while also recognising the good and positive that came out of this time. I know that God uses everything and nothing in our experience is ever wasted. All is a growing process. We felt that we needed to break away and see what God was saying to us personally.
We were for some time alone and without ‘formal’ fellowship but this was the time when God started to make Himself real to us in a new way and also the time when I started to really listen. A very simple lesson came one day when sitting reading in the garden. I was reading the book “Rees Howells – Intercessor” and began to think that I could never do what Rees Howells had done and the old condemnation soon reared it’s head. God clearly said, “I’m not asking you to do that at this moment, you only need to do what I ask you to do.”
One day we planned a visit to a preacher/friend of ours who lived about 2 hours drive away. On the day all my old fears came back as I started to think about the journey and we left late as I had spent so much time in the bathroom due to anxiety. We eventually made it to our friends house only to find he was in a similar situation being a very anxious and nervous individual himself. When we both shared how we were feeling and why he insisted that it was all an attack of Satan. I did not enjoy my day and when we arrived home late at night I fell into bed feeling as defeated as ever.
The next morning I was standing at my kitchen sink thinking that if Satan had such power to paralyze me and wreck my day, what chance did I have of fighting this. I would always lose. Suddenly the light came on and God said, “You are not meant to fight, you are meant to believe” He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world, 1 John 4:4. Here were Scriptures I had read all my life being made real. Yes, all I was meant to do was believe the truth. The truth that the only power that the enemy had over me was the power that I gave to him through my wrong believing. For me it was a revelation. I then began to see that I was not a depressed person, that I had the Creator of the universe living in me. I might feel depressed but that was not my identity. My identity was Christ in this earthen vessel.
I asked God right there, “ OK, how does this relate to right now?” I was still feeling depressed. God’s answer was to tell me to just do the next thing which happened to be clearing the dishes. In asking again, it was to make the beds. I lived like this for the whole day, taking one step at a time and trusting the next moment to God. I chose to stop seeing myself as a depressed, inadequate and defeated person and started to trust God in a new way no matter how I felt or how it looked. He showed me how to take one step at a time, just doing the next thing. I’m sure it would seem very elemental to some, but for me, having struggled in my own strength for decades I learned a lot in those days. As I stopped the self effort struggling and just listened to God He continued to show me through the very mundane activities of life.
One day I heard of an acquaintance who was feeling very low and depressed and I felt to go and visit her. I arrived on her doorstep and felt dumb. All I managed to say was, “Hi! I hear you are feeling bad and I just wanted to tell you that I care.” On the way home after a cup of tea and a chat I felt frustrated when all the things I could have said to her came flooding into my mind and as I questioned God as to why He said “I only asked you to go, and you did, you can share that with her next time”. God was showing me the difference between relying on Him and self effort. I was wanting to run ahead of God and do His work for Him. He knows what is needed and unless we are listening to Him we don’t.
Very soon we had a small group of friends meeting in our home for fellowship and God started bringing various ministry teachers into my life who confirmed all that God was showing me. This was not overnight but over a couple of years. This brought increased healing as I began to believe Galations 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, but it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me”.
We will see in future chapters the difference this made in my life. During this time there were some dramatic and distressing events in my extended family but they will have to wait until the next chapter.