Are You Missing Your Father's Love
Several years before the renewal broke out in our congregation, we made the shocking discovery that nearly 90% of our members were adult children of alcoholics. The rest were also suffering from the effects of painful childhood memories. As we tried to walk through healing with them, we made several observations which I later shared in a book entitled Adult Children and the Almighty: Recovering From the Wounds of a Dysfunctional Home (Chosen Books, 1991).
People who grow up with a painful reality that they can’t control develop emotional difficulties which can affect their spiritual lives including their ability to relate to others in churches they attend. These difficulties include low self-esteem, a fear of abandonment, perfectionism, a fear of trusting authority figures, shame, emotional numbness, their own forms of compulsive-addictive behavior and anger which often presents itself as emotional numbness.
As their pastors, we have observed that these emotional wounds produced at least six results in their spiritual lives.
1. A distorted view of God and the inability to feel the joy of His presence.
2. The lack of joyful motivation to pray or receive comfort from prayer.
3. The inability to know and carry out the will of God for their lives.
4. The impaired ability to understand the Bible and receive comfort from its words.
5. The redefining of the first priority of the Christian life as usefulness, service and ministry rather than worshipping and loving God.
6. The inability to make long-lasting commitments to the church, in marriage and with friendships.
Discovering the root proved to be only a first step. Talking about it brought some relief to them because secrecy about their emotional pain kept them feeling isolated and in denial that they had been affected. We started support groups and became involved in the Christian recovery movement. Our eyes were being opened to the debilitating effects of alcoholism. In other churches where we shared our findings, 70-90% of their members also held the same secrets they believed were too shameful to tell.
Then when the current outpouring of the Holy Spirit began in 1994, it was as though the Lord rolled back His sleeves, bent low over the members of our congregation and began to breathe healing breaths into them. Furrowed brows disappeared. People weren’t afraid of God anymore. One Sunday after we had all been soaking in the presence of the Lord for over a year, I happened to share the passage above with the congregation. As I paused at the end, the congregation spontaneously broke out in applause and even cheering.
Why? Because for the first time in their lives, they knew they were being healed supernaturally by God Himself. They had discovered the lifeline to the one thing they had all been missing: the ability to experience their Heavenly Father’s love.
As we continue to receive His love through what we call soaking prayer, the revelation of God the Father keeps unfolding. He is strengthening us with His love to be able to live life and to carry a message we now sincerely believe to a Fatherless world.
After watching for nearly six years the effects of what some feel is an unnecessary renewal, I can’t imagine what we would have done without Him. I personally have no desire to return to a religious agenda like the one we used to have, devoid of soaking, that would have the effect of separating the sheep from intimate contact with the Good Shepherd.
In this issue of Spread the Fire, you will read articles and testimonies from people who have had dramatic breakthroughs in knowing God the Father through this outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Grant Mullen shares how the revelation of the Father heart of God can help heal your emotions. Peter Jackson describes the vision that unlocked a healing pathway after years of feeling ignored as a young boy. Jack Frost tells how God touched him in Toronto and delivered him from having to “work” for God’s love. Ian Ross describes how knowing the Father’s love helped him to step out into full-time ministry. This month, we begin a new version of our section called, “The Spreading Fire,” which includes testimonies from readers like you who have been touched by what God is doing through Toronto.
As you read, may you experience the love you have been longing for all your life.
Originally Published December 2000 Editor Melinda Fish