That Would Not Let Me Go
"For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient,
slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days
in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another;
but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness,
but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration
and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly
through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace
and become heirs in hope of eternal life."
Garlands and Background (c) by Angelic Artistry Cross (c) New Creations Web Design
All who sincerely embrace Christ
are living in the rarefied air
of the resurrected life of Christ.
Jesus said, " . . . I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this" (John 11:25 NIV)?
Believers and unbelievers alike may or may not understand the difference the resurrection of Christ makes in our ordinary every day lives. After all, that was 2,000 years ago. Right? Or we might even say to ourselves, "I know what resurrection means. It means Christ conquered death, and because I believe in Him, I'm going to heaven." And that would be correct. But there is more to resurrection than what happens when we die.
The resurrection of Christ is always impacting us and will as long as we live, and that will be forever. Even those who do not believe in Christ experience the blessings of His resurrection in this life. Just think what the world would be like without it! The holocaust and Russia during Stalin's reign of terror would have been a small blip on the radar screen. Instead of one-time events here and there, death and destruction would be constant and ongoing without relief—a Mad Max movie that never ended, only there would be no Mad Max to avenge and protect. There would be no one at all to help much less care. Fyodor Dostoyevski put it this way. "If God didn't exist, everything would be permissible." And, I will add, nothing would be forbidden.
If God didn't exist,
everything would be permissible.
But Christ, who was always Plan A and never Plan B, did live, die and rise from the dead according to the eternal plan of God. Though creation would not exist at all were it not for God's desire and pre-existent plan of redemption before the foundations of the world were in place, think what this world would be like if Christ had never been born, lived, died and risen from the dead and the world actually did exist—if there were no God—if the evolutionists were correct. We would all be nothing more than corrupt brutes without the prevailing redemptive grace of God to restrain us—if the image of God—marred and fallen as we all are were not in each of us. In fact, I dare to say that without God's eternal plan of redemption, this world would not have lasted beyond the first generation of barbarians that emerged from the sludge. Everyone would have been eliminated by someone until there was no one remaining to procreate the next generation. That "window of opportunity" would have fizzled out. It would have been but a brief moment of darkness and despair.
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." (1 Peter 1:18-21 NIV).
If you question the reality of this, please listen to how His life, death and resurrection have changed and continue to change my life. It is His story. It is an ever-present mystery unfolding in every redeemed life and this is the mystery. The crucified, resurrected Christ dwells in me and is always working on me, within me and through me for the purpose of glorifying and making Himself known to others.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20 NIV).
Before I surrendered my life to the Lord, in every way but physically I was dead and often wished I were physically dead. Now I'm thrillingly alive and thrilled to be living in His resurrect life and power. And one day I will be resurrected along with all believers of all ages, some whom will still be living but most of whom will have been long dead and buried or scattered. Here is my resurrection story. Actually, it is not my resurrection story but His lived through my imperfect life. Take a look at the difference the resurrected Christ has made in one very lost woman's life. Mine.
My Mother was Seriously Mentally Ill
My torment started early. I am told it was as if I didn't want to be born. I refused to breathe. I'm convinced I didn't want to be born to the mother God chose for me. I had been in her womb for ten months, and I believe I somehow knew what I was doomed for. The doctors had to pound on me for a very long time before I finally succumbed to life.
My mother was seriously mentally ill and extremely abusive to everyone who crossed her path, which was the unfortunate and unavoidable plight of her entire family. She was a very disturbed woman. Her behavior was very much like that of the character played by Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. I say these things with love and compassion for her now. It was very hard for me to have love and compassion for her while she was alive, because she never stopped tormenting her family.
She threatened to kill us, to kill our children, to have our children taken away from us. She vindictively undermined every relationship we ever had. She called our employers and harassed them, trying to get us fired from our jobs by telling them terrible lies about us. When I was a young girl, she locked me out of the house in my pajamas in freezing weather. Why? Because I tried to stop her from breaking every dish in the house against the fireplace. I failed. At the age of fourteen she had me driving her to the package store to buy liquor. The last memory my daughter has of my mother is hiding behind me as she held a pot of boiling water over her head. This awful list of her tyranny is long, yet there is another list. When she was wonderful, she was really, really wonderful—magically wonderful. She was a brilliant scholar with a master’s degree in English literature. She was a poet and published author. She was a gifted story teller and a survivor. I still remember her joyful laughter. She instilled in me a love for reading, classical and non-classical music, theater, a fascination for metaphor and the mystery and wonder of God, even when she was not yet a Christian.
Those things that hurt
A Tormented Woman
I grew up a tormented young woman. Early in my life, I made a conscious decision that as soon as I could get out of the house, I would. I also made the decision that I was never, ever going to suffer like that again. And that was the single most destructive decision I ever made in my entire life. The commitment to avoid suffering is a devastating one, for it is through pain and suffering that we grow.
I am not saying we should stay in situations dangerous to our physical and emotional safety. Those decisions must be left up to the one involved, but we can never resolve our resolvable dilemmas when we are running away from them. In the words of Scott Peck, "It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn." Benjamin Franklin also wrote, "Those things that hurt, instruct." It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread problems but to accept them for the learning, growing experiences that they are meant to be.
James instructed that "When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men [and women] of mature character, men of integrity with no weak spots" (vv. 2-4 Phillips Version).
Carl Jung wrote that "Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering. But the substitute itself ultimately becomes more painful than the legitimate suffering it was designed to avoid . . . When we avoid the legitimate suffering that results from dealing with problems, we also avoid the growth that problems demand from us." Peck adds that the avoidance of legitimate suffering is the reason we stop growing. We become stuck.
I hope you will forgive the expression, but it is the best way to describe it, and I fully intend for it to have a Biblical context. I was stuck, and I was neurotic as hell, and I lived a hellish life.
Defiantly I swore,
"I will never endure this kind of torment once I am old enough to leave".
The seed later germinated into a lifestyle. It drove me blindly down
the destructive path that became my life.
Running, Running, Running
Alcoholism. Mental illness. Physical abuse between my parents. Emotional and mental abuse toward me and my sister. This describes our home. The fantasy began early. It resonated just above subconscious level. Defiantly I swore, "I will never endure this kind of torment once I am old enough to leave". The seed later germinated into a lifestyle. It drove me blindly down the destructive path that became my life.
I did not know the Lord until I was thirty-five years old. By that time I had already been divorced three times and married for a fourth time. I was busy running from my pain. Running, running, running. This husband was a problem. Get rid of him! That husband was a creep. Dump him! And the tragedy is that I was dragging two precious little children through the muck and mire of my selfish life. I was guilty of abusing my children through neglect, a different kind of abuse than my parent's. I have cried buckets of tears over those years about the lifestyle I led. I have asked for their forgiveness many times. They have told me over and over again, "Mom, we turned out okay." Well they are fine people, but it is not because of anything I did or did not do. It is only because of the grace and resurrection power of the Lord!
At the age of sixteen, I found myself expecting a baby out of wedlock. It was 1957. This was something that didn't happen often in 1957. In fact, it was very frowned upon.
My father was also a very abusive parent. He was harsh, rigid and severe in his constant murderous criticisms of the rest of the family. When he learned that I was pregnant, he practically disowned me. But pregnancy was my way of escaping the terrible abuse between my parents toward one another and the abuse that they heaped upon me and my sister. But my unresolved pain and suffering were about to get worse.
Somewhere along the way
we have to stop and unravel
the knots in our lives.
I married the father of my son, but we were only married four years, because of my decision not to suffer. I don't know. If you know another human being, you are going to suffer. We can stay together and work on our relationships or we can run like I did. And we can get married again like I did . . . and leave again like I did. And we can get married again and leave again like I did; but somewhere along the way, to do more than barely survive we have to stop and unravel the knots in our lives.
Raised in Church
Though I wasn't a Christian, I was raised in church. I was in the pews and sang in the choir every Sunday, but I didn't know Jesus, because I had not been properly introduced to Him. I would like to say I wish I had become a Christian a whole lot sooner, but I didn't. I have to trust that it was in God's timing that I came to know Him. And I have to believe that He has used my story to bring hope to many others over the years.
I always said, "When I get my life the way I want it, then I'll get right with God." Never mind that I didn't know what it meant to get my life right much less what it meant to get right with God! But that thought was always in the back of my mind.
Marriage to Clint
Running from pain serves no one well because unresolved pain is always with us and only compounds pain upon pain. By the time I was 35 years old, I had been married four times. In 1975 I married Clint Murchison, Jr. It was a mystery to everyone why Clint proposed to me. Clint could have had almost anyone he wanted. He certainly could have chosen from more glamorous women, more sophisticated women, more beautiful women. He certainly could have found many more women who would have better fit into the level of society in which he lived. To say the least, I was a total misfit. I actually think that is part of what he liked about me, because I later learned that he was a misfit too. Neither one of us was very good at pretending we were someone we weren't.
Clint Murchison, Jr., according to the Dallas Morning News, was at one time one of the twenty most influential people in the City of Dallas in the 20th century. He was viewed by many to be the most powerful man in Texas because of his ownership of the very prestigious high profile Dallas Cowboys Football Team. In the late 70's Clint was considered by many to be one of the last great entrepreneurs. That was, of course, because no one foresaw the internet, and the incredible explosion of technological advances being made today.
At one time Clint alone
worth of stock in Centex Corporation.
In the mid-seventies, Clint and his brother John were listed in Forbes Magazine as the fourth wealthiest family in the nation at $400,000,000. At one time Clint alone owned $500,000,000 worth of stock in Centex Corporation. In today's terms, that would have put him in the high echelon of multi-billionaires.
Our home was 44,000 square feet, not counting 20,000 square feet of basement. In 1985, our air-conditioning bill in the summer was $10,000 a month. We had a four-car garage with four Mercedes Benz's parked inside. We lived on 26 acres of perfectly manicured grounds that looked like the Garden of Eden. In the Spring, 5,000 azalea bushes bloomed profusely. Adding to the splendor, there were 25,000 daffodils and 10,000 tulips and wisteria dripping from every imaginable place. We had two swimming pools, a football field and a tennis court. We owned a private island in the Bahamas with a pristine white sandy beach, a penthouse on Park Avenue in the Big Apple and jet planes to take us anywhere we wanted anytime we wanted to go. And I couldn't find peace anywhere. I was a dead woman walking around, and I met my tormented self everywhere I turned.
Though our estate may have looked like the Garden of Eden, our lives closely resembled those of Adam and Eve after the fall.
No amount of designer clothes
could heal my aching heart.
I had thought that marriage to Clint would make me feel better about myself—more accepted—but it didn't. Instead, I felt worse. If living a story book life didn't bring me happiness, what possibly could? I certainly found no sympathy among my friends. They too had bought the lie that fame and fortune bring contentment and joy. With a budget of $100,000 a year for clothes alone, no amount of designer garments could heal my aching heart. It wasn't just an ache. It was a misery that never ended. I don't know how to explain it any other way. I only know that I hurt desperately all the time.
I didn't smoke, drink or use drugs, but I had other ways of running to avoid my pain that were just as destructive. I never found anything or anyone that gave me hope that things could change until I met the Lord.
Exactly nine months after my wedding to Clint, a friend of mine invited me to go to Christian Women's Club. The moment I accepted her invitation, I knew I was going to get right with God, even though I had not the foggiest notion what getting right with God meant. I think I actually thought that it meant I would start going to church on Sundays and that I would become a better person. I had no idea that my life was going to be totally revolutionized. I didn't know that my life was going to be turned upside down and inside out by the resurrection power of God, but that's exactly what happened.
I am not the person I was before I surrendered my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I am not the person who said "yes!" to my friend when she invited me to Christian Women's Club. If you had told me in 1976 that I was going to feel as wonderful, as peaceful, as joyful, as content, as caring for others as the Lord has made me today, I would have said, "no way". I became a new creature in Christ. Born again by the Spirit of God.
I did not know that my life
was going to be turned
and inside out.
The woman who led me to the Lord, Janis Coffee, discipled me for eighteen months. She held a Bible study in my home every week and also prayed with me every day. I was that fragile. She later told me that she felt it was the call of God on her life. She had never before poured so much of herself into anyone outside her own family. She started me out on a strong foundation of Bible study, prayer and Christian devotion and is one of my dearest friends today.
My Son Frank
In 1978, I gave my first testimony at the very place I was saved—Christian Women's Club. Right before that, my twenty-year-old son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia—the most serious of all mental illnesses. I was devastated and I was also in denial. I believed that God would heal him and I prayed for it. I took him to people who claimed to know how to cast out devils. We laid hands on him and prayed, but he did not get better. I eventually
had to accept that my son had what is now called a neurobiological illness. At that time schizophrenia was considered incurable. Though it still is, the new frontiers of technology are on the edge of developing a complete cure for it.
Clint's Illness and Bankruptcy
This was just the beginning of the thunder jolts in my life. A year later, Clint was diagnosed with cerebellar atrophy, an illness similar to Lou Gehrig's disease, of which he would die eight years later. Two years after Clint was diagnosed, my mother died of heart failure. In spite of our history together, her death left a horrible hole in my soul for months and months. What I had hoped we would somehow one day be able to have, was now an impossibility.
In 1985, adding insult to injury, because of his illness, Clint was forced to take bankruptcy. Had he not been ill, he would have been able to get his financial struggles worked out, but that was not to be.
Clint's bankruptcy sent shock waves throughout the community,
the state, the nation
and many parts of the world.
Bankruptcy is humiliating in itself, but Clint's was the largest personal bankruptcy in the history of the nation at that time. Because of the Dallas Cowboys, Clint was a very high profile person, and his bankruptcy sent shock waves throughout the community, the state, the nation and many parts of the world. For weeks, helicopters roared above us filming our home and our property. Every detail of our personal lives was spread across the pages of the local and national papers and magazines. The nightly news carried the story for months. I felt raped and exposed by the invasiveness of the press. The daily struggles with our own attorneys, the attorneys of the creditors and the judge were an unending nightmare. And all of this was taking place in the lifeof a woman losing her husband and a man losing his life. Every day Clint became more incapacitated. Unable to feed himself, dress himself, wipe his own nose or even turn himself over in bed, we faced more loss—that of our personal privacy. Clint needed round-the-clock care. There were never any quiet moments alone—never a place to hide from the pain or to grieve it all. At the time it was very painful that the last years of Clint's life were the most sorrowful. Now I realize that they were also the most triumphant of any he had ever known.
My Daughter Wendy
At the same time that my life was falling apart, my beautiful daughter Wendy was giving birth. My first grandson, Bradley West, Jr., was born in 1981, the year my mother died. My only granddaughter, Lauren West, was born twenty months later. And my youngest grandson, Ryan West, was born in March of 1984. Wendy has expressed her relief more than once that my mother was not around when her children were born.
Just after Ryan was born, my daughter was diagnosed with lupus, an illness that has for intermittent protracted periods of time deeply affected her life and the life of her family. She was in and out of intensive care in 1984 with perio- carditis—an inflammation of the lining of the heart.
To say things were tough all the way around would be a gross understatement.
Early in my Christian walk I prayed,
"Whatever it takes, Lord,
for you to make me and my family
what you want us to be."
I was a radical Christian—a joke among Clint's buddies. And I prayed radical prayers. Early in my walk with the Lord I prayed, "Whatever it takes, Lord, for you to make me and my family all you want us to be. Whatever it takes." When I first prayed this prayer, a shiver went down my spine. I had no idea what lay ahead of me, but I completely trusted God with all I knew how to trust Him at the time. I even started abbreviating this prayer. W-I-T, Lord. WIT.
I guess some would say, "Well, the devil really got old Clint Murchison." No, I am 100% convinced that God got him. "I-T-W-I-T." It took what it took. We were both very tough nuts to crack. The pressure it took for Clint Murchison is what it took to bow his heart and bend his knee. And the pressure it took to bow my heart and bend my knee is what it took. But much of my story is yet to be told. We will get to that later.
We go through the eye of the needle
by forsaking all other gods—
those things we think
we cannot live without
that are not of and from God.
The Eye of the Needle
Sometime while reading our Bible together, Clint and I came across the parable of the rich man. The fact that it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God caught Clint's attention. As a result, early on in his illness and bankruptcy, Clint asked our pastor, "Will you teach me how to go through the eye of the needle?"
What we both learned is that we go through the eye of the needle by forsaking all other gods—those things that we think we cannot live without that are not of and from God. Or they are from God and have become more important to us than God.
We learned that to go through the eye of that needle Jesus was talking about, we had to "shrink" as much as we possibly could. We learned that we had to lay down everything we cared about and everything we didn't care about to go through the eye of the needle. And that's what happened to Clint Murchison. He got smaller and smaller—literally and spiritually. Each day he grew more humble and more broken.
Crush the petals of a rose and its fragrance fills the air. Clint was getting sweeter and sweeter too. Asking to learn how to go through the eye of the needle was Clint's way of saying, W-I-T. "Whatever it takes, Lord. Whatever it takes." This is how I knew Clint was serious with God.
Little House on the Prairie
I watched Clint being transformed before my very eyes. Every night at 5:00, this man who had done business all over the world, feted kings, presidents, senators and congressmen, could not wait for Little House on the Prairie to come on television. Every night, he watched and wept. As he watched the example of a real home, tears flowed down his cheeks for the childhood and the family life he had missed as a child growing up without a mother—for the family life he had failed to give his first wife and their four children and for the family life he had failed to give me and my children. Clint went through months of godly sorrow and repentance for the life he had lived, and, from an eternal perspective, the life he had wasted.
I now know why Clint married me. It was because God knew that together we would come to know and love Him.
Clint went through months
of godly sorrow and repentance
for the life he had lived,
and in many ways,
for the life he had wasted.
Anger with God
Well, at this time, Clint was doing better than I was. I wasn't getting smaller and smaller—more humble and more broken. I was doing what I always did when things weren't going my way. I was becoming angrier and angrier with Clint for getting us into this mess and with God for not getting us out. After all, hadn't I served Him with all my heart? Hadn't we gone through our Bibles and searched for every possible sin to confess? Hadn't we gone to those closest to us and repented of our sins? Hadn't we repented of our sins against one another? Hadn't we more than tithed? Hadn't we destroyed over a hundred thousand dollars worth of idolatrous art? Hadn't the elders of our church anointed him with oil and prayed for his healing? Well! Then why wasn't God turning our situation around? Why wasn't God healing my husband?
I really believe irrational anger is an unhealthy, unholy reaction to fear. Just think about it. When someone almost causes you to have an accident on a busy freeway, what is the first reaction you have? As sanctified as I am, and I still have a long way to go, I still get furious when some pulls out in front of me on a freeway and nearly causes an accident! But after the adrenalin settles down, I am actually shaking all over from the fear of what just happened and what might have happened. And I was terrified of my husband dying. I was terrified of being left alone. I didn't know what I was going to do. How was I going to unravel all of the mess? So my reaction was to get angry—really angry at God.
What I am about to tell you is a shameful thing. I am not proud of my reaction, but I am amazed at God. It is a shameful thing to tell you about my anger at God, but it is an awesome thing to tell you about God's love for a wretched sinner.
I was more than angry.
These words more adequately describe
my temper toward God at that time.
Angry is not exactly the right word either. En-raged! Out-raged! These words more adequately describe my temper at that time. I was shaking my fist in God's face all day every day. I could not have been more irreverent nor more insulting if I had tried. I screamed at Him day and night. "Get out of my life, God!" "Get out of my face, God!" "Just leave me alone, God!"
I reverted to my old ways of handling things. I wanted to run. And I wanted a divorce from God and He wouldn't give me one!
We all want to run from pain, and we find many ways to do it. Even Christians! Before becoming a Christian, I was out traipsing around with men and marrying and divorcing some of them. Whatever! Though Christians can lapse back into their old ways in the world, we also find other ways to run from our pain. We get religious and self-righteous. After all, legalism is quite a respectable addiction in the church. We also eat chocolate. We go shopping. We get busy working around the house, in the yard, in the church or on the job. But our old companion pain is always there gnawing away at us, because nothing gets resolved this way. Nothing gets resolved when we are running. And so we stay stuck.
Running With No Place to Go
I was mad at God because I wanted to run and I knew I couldn't. That's what I was really mad about. I wanted to run and I was a Christian. I was a Christian writer, speaker and teacher and everyone else knew it. What would happen if I left my sick, dying and broke husband? Well, that would not be why I left, if I had left. My unbearable pain and my old ways of coping with it would have been the reason. Just let me find some thing, some place, some one to relieve my pain. I was shaking my fist in the face of God everyday and telling Him to get out of my life. But you know what? God wouldn't budge. Instead of making me grateful and humble, I became more arrogant and more angry at God.
I was shaking my fist in the face of God everyday and telling Him
to get out of my life.
Now I believe that God knew that this is what it was going to take for me. He knew that what I was going through with my husband and children was what it was going to take for me to go through the eye of the needle too. And He knew what it was going to take to heal me of my unbrokenness. All my life everyone either abandoned me or I abandoned them. We all have that fear of abandonment we incurred as the result of abandoning God at the fall rumbling around inside of us somewhere. We have just forgotten why it's there. And our arrogance won't allow us to admit to ourselves that had not Eve been the first to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we would have.
All day every day, in my arrogance, I shook my fist in the face of God and ordered Him to leave me alone. But He wouldn't. And I began to realize a surprising thing. The more angry I became with God, the more loving He became with me. The more I shouted, the softer and more gentle His voice became. In fact, He began to whisper loving things in my ear. "Come unto me." This was the last thing I wanted to hear!
"Come unto me."
"Come unto you!"I screamed.
Oh, I was obnoxious.
"Come unto me."
"Come unto You? All You do is hurt people!"
"Come unto me."
"Get out of my life! Get out of my life, God!"
The words resounded endlessly in my head.
"Come unto me."
"Come unto You? And just exactly why would I want to do that, God?
"Just go on and send me to hell, God, because I cannot possibly hurt
any worse that I do right now! It's all I've ever known and I cannot
bear it anymore." I screamed.
"Come unto me," whispered the gentle voice of God.
"Let me alone, God!!! I just want to run. I want to feel good."
"Come unto me," He said once again.
My anger continued to escalate, but God's love also escalated—and He upped the ante every time.
"Come let me love you."
"Love! If this is your idea of love, I don't want any part of it. This can't be love!!! Love doesn't hurt like this."
Yes, it does! Absolutely!
Love sometimes hurts like this!
Yes, it does! Absolutely! The truth is that love sometimes hurts like this! Sometimes love hurts all the time. When you love someone, you're going to hurt sometimes. And I loved Clint. And I didn't want him to die.
Love hurt on the cross. Love hurt our Lord before the cross. Kevin Connor, in his wonderful teaching on the cross, said that Jesus was born and lived all his life with an inner cross. He bore the cross from the foundation of the world until the day of His death.
We have all these fairy tale beliefs that things are supposed to be wonderful when we become Christians. Well, they are! They are wonderful! But there is also an inner cross in the life of every believer. It is a gift if we will only embrace it. But I didn't understand this yet, and God continued to say to me, "Come closer to me. Come get in my lap and let me love you."
There is a verse in a wonderful old hymn entitled Come, Thou Fount of Many Blessings, by Robert Robinson, that fills my eyes with tears, for I deeply understand the reality of its words:
"O to grace, how great a debtor,
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wand'ring heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above."
Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wand'ring heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
I have to believe that the pressure was part of God's plan for my life. He knew the burning rage within me. He knew the potential was always there for me to explode in rebellion. And He knew that I desperately needed to see His palpable, unfathomable, unfailing, everlasting love for me in the midst of it. So when He finally said, "Come get in my lap and let me hold you," I broke. My heart broke. And I wept. And I didn't stop weeping for months over the longsuffering love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of God. He was not at all Who I thought He was, and I have never been the same since. My theology changed. The way I saw the Word of God changed. The way I embraced all of life changed. I finally stopped running away. Instead I ran into the arms of God to stay.
Clint died in 1987. He died broke. Not totally, but close. It was almost as if God was saying, "Anne, I'm getting ready to show you more about Myself."
Almost everything my husband did vanished into thin air. I believe God did that. I believe my husband's life is a parable for you and me. And my life is a parable too. All of his businesses were bankrupt and most of them were shut down. Only the Cowboys survived and they were sold and resold. Our 44,000 square home was torn down to the basement beneath the ground.
My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works,
ye Mighty, and despair!
There is a poem about Ozymandias of Egypt that expresses a vivid and ironic moral. Clint used to quote it, often with a Mona Lisa smile upon his face. Looking back, it seems prophetic. It is an ode to a shattered stone statue with only the legs and head remaining in the middle of a windswept desert. The face is proud and arrogant. On the pedestal of the statue are carved these words. "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" The word "Mighty" is capitalized. I presume this means he was arrogantly addressing God. The poem goes on to say that centuries later, all that surrounds the windblown, sandblasted remnants of that statue is a bleak and barren desert.
This poem says simply that wealth, power and prestige do not represent immortality. Ironically, the king who seemed to think that his kingdom would remain under his statue's haughty gaze forever teaches us this through his epitaph. "Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair!" becomes good advice, though in the opposite way that Ozymandias intended. Despite all the power and might one acquires in the course of one's life, material possessions and powerful positions will not last forever. In the end, the King's "works" are nothing, and the lines inscribed upon his statue are a sermon to those who read it. And Clint's and my life is a sermon to those who heed it. All that man does will turn to dust. No matter how great we are—and my husband was a great man in many ways—Clint Murchison and I both needed to be broken and humbled to even approach the eye of the needle. We needed to go through what we went through so that we might glorify God with our lives. Even if we had been able to straighten up our outward behavior, only the Lord knew the darkness in our souls and what it would take to bring us to brokenness.
The Jesus I know today is not the Jesus I knew fifteen years ago when I was shaking my fist in His face. I knew Him as omnipotent ruler, but I did not know Him as gentle shepherd. The Jesus I know today is the same royal ruler of my life that He has always been. I trust Him with my life. I trust Him with those I love most dearly. I have nothing else more dear to give Him.
Life Without Clint
Somewhere along the way, Clint had bought ten million dollars worth of life insurance in my name, but I had not paid the premiums, so the creditors got the right to the death benefits. As part of the bankruptcy settlement, I was granted $1,000,000 of those proceeds. After Clint's death, when I went to collect the funds I learned that the insurance company was bankrupt. I ended up having to settle for considerably less than the face value of the policy. Looking back now I realize that God was saying, "Those insurance proceeds are not your source, Anne. They are not your source."
I Am your source.
The home and twenty-six acres Clint lived on for over thirty years was a valuable piece of property in North Dallas. At one time during the bankruptcy, the court received an offer for $11,500,000 for it, which the creditors turned down. We begged them to take it but they refused. They later sold the property for a little over $5,000,000. I was to get a small percentage of the proceeds of the sale. Needless to say, a small percentage of $11,500,000 would have been a lot more than a small percent of $5,000,000. Once again, I realize God was saying, "That property is not your source, Anne. It is not your source."
I did get a company out of bankruptcy. It had $30,000,000 of debt against it, so the creditors were glad to get rid of it. It was making $4,000,000 a year and a friend and financial officer in several of Clint's companies saw a way to renegotiate the debt with the bank and pay it off with the income and tax write-offs of the company. The bank would gain more this way, and I would have a modest income. And the company would be worth quite a lot after its debts were paid.
Well, almost immediately after Clint died, the company began to lose money. After a year or two it was losing $4,000,000 a year instead of making $4,000,000 a year. God's still small voice whispered in my ear once again, "This company is not your source, Anne. It is not your source."
Through all of this I learned
to walk in total trust and
to surrender all of my rights
to the Lord.
"Millions and millions of people work," I told myself. "It will not kill me to work!" If I had to rent a back room in someone's home, I would do it. If I had to ride the bus to work every day I would do it. "Millions of people ride the bus to work everyday, Anne!" I could do it too. I was willing for God to do whatever it took to make me what He wanted me to be. "Lord, I lay down my life for you. Not my will but thine." Again I said, "I don't want what you haven't given me, Lord." John the Baptist said that we can receive nothing of eternal value that isn't given to us from heaven. Nothing. "Lord I only want what comes from heaven. Don't let me have anything that does not flow from your throne. Nothing. I don't want it." These day-by-day surrenders were not made without much weeping and tears, because my heart was in ministry to the Lord and to women.
Well, things continued to grow worse and worse. It was a large company—a national company involved in convention business. We were number one in the field. We had a good reputation, we just had too much debt. When we tried to sell the company, people would simply laugh.
We can receive nothing
of eternal value
that isn't given to us from heaven..
About five years after Clint's death, the company that was number two in the business came to the head of my company and said, "We want to buy your company. We think we can make you an offer that will please everyone involved." I didn't get my hopes up about this. I never get my hopes up about anything to do with this world anymore. Nothing. My hope was then and still is in Jesus Christ, because this life is not about "stuff". It's about our hearts and our relationship with Him.
Well, we had the company appraised and it was appraised at "zero". Fat chance anyone was going to buy our enormous debt. And fat chance I would end up with anything if they did.
But do you know what? The company that bought us out paid off the debt, and I ended up with enough money in the bank to dedicate the rest of my life to serving the Lord—teaching Bible studies, speaking at conferences around the country, supporting my church, other ministries and taking short missions trips to places like India, Africa, Japan, Norway and Germany.
It was given from heaven. Wealth without sorrow. There is no way that we should have gotten anything for that company. The company that bought my company has been every bit as blessed as I have. So God made a believer out of me, but He had to make me a broken woman first. As long as I tried holding him by the scruff of His neck saying, "You owe me, God," I don't believe this would have happened. He made me willing to be broken. I am incapable of being willing. If we will only let Him, He'll make us willing. But it's costly. And sometimes it hurts. But it hurts a lot worse if we do not welcome brokenness into our lives. A lot worse.
Here's one of the most important lessons I learned out of all I went through. We lost everything we had. I was still in a lot of emotional pain and didn't know what to do with it. I was still in the pain I had been in since I drew my first breath. I came into this world not wanting to come into this world. Through all the pain of growing up with a seriously mentally ill mother and seriously abusive father, going through three divorces, a son diagnosed with a major mental illness, bankruptcy, a husband dying, later a granddaughter who was nearly killed by two dogs, and the death of her first boyfriend at the tender age of seventeen, I learned what to do with it. I finally learned what to do with my pain and unbrokenness.
We cannot be healed
of the pain of loss
It all began with a secular book on grieving, because I couldn't find any Christian books on the subject. This book said that we cannot be healed of the pain of loss without mourning. As I read this book, I began to think of all the things I had read in the Bible about mourning.
2 Cor. 7:10 says, "Godly sorrow produces repentance . . . ".
This scripture is about repentance, and it says that godly sorrow produces repentance. The word sorrow used here means "mourning". Repentance is the fruit of godly sorrow. Let me say this another way. Repentance is a fruit not a decision. Godly sorrow is the root, repentance is the fruit. We have a lot of dry-eyed repentance going on in our churches today. In the Bible they wept, and out of that weeping God brought repentance. I believe the Bible consistently teaches that we are not truly repentant when we are unbroken over our sin.
Repentance is not just turning from sin. It is turning to God. And every time we turn to God we encounter His resurrection power, and we are never the same.
But there is yet more fruit from godly sorrow!
"Godly sorrow produces repentance without regret."
There well may be lingering consequences over our sin, but there will be no lingering pain over our sin. And 2 Corintians 7:10 also promises that our repentance will lead to salvation. This word salvation does not just refer to being born again. It is a word that is pregnant with promise. It means "healing, wholeness and deliverance".
Let me say this again. When we mourn—when we weep and wail, as we turn our hearts toward the Lord, it will produce repentance in us, and that repent- ance will lead to what everyone longs for—the continuing day-to-day out- working of the salvation of the Lord—healing, wholeness and deliverance from the heartaches, disappointments and broken dreams of this world.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend say that grief is the one pain that heals all other pain. I completely agree with them.
Is there any mystery about why there is so little healing of our sin-marred souls when there are so few tears shed in the presence of God in this present day and time?
Grief is the one pain
that heals all other pain.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend
When God brought me to repentance over my sin and anger with Him and everyone else, I cried every day for months. I didn't say I cried all day. I said I cried every day—actually for four years, and it was so healing! Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." Weeping is such a healing place that I longed to turn there for the comfort and love of God I always found there and still do. It was and is a place of great blessing! I am beneath the shadow of God's wings at these special times like no other. Today I am a healed woman. Today I am highly energized by the love of God to serve Him wherever He takes me. As a friend once said to me, "The sweetest thing about brokenness is loving it." And I do, because God joins me there in a very special way. No wonder the old puritans used to pray for the gift of tears.
Will I always need healing? Yes, because we live in a sinful world; but the massive wounds of my life are healed. All of the deep pain I carried for most of my life is gone. Totally gone. Any emotional pain I have today is because of today's pain. It is not compounded by over sixty-five years worth of pain.
I occasionally have my moments. Sometimes my mind gets flooded with negative racing condemnation against myself. Racing humiliating thoughts. When this happens, I know it is time to get out my crying towel and fall down on my face on my bed. There I empty myself of my pride and pain in repentance in the comforting presence of the Lord. Every time I do this, when my tears are gone, I feel like a new person. And I am, because I'm a little more broken.
Have you ever noticed how much better life looks after you weep? More important, have you ever noticed the nearness of God when you weep? Psalm 31:18 promises that He draws near the brokenhearted and saves and delivers those of a humble (broken) and contrite spirit. Psalm 51:17 promises that the truee sacrifices are a broken heart and a contrite spirit and He will not look upon them in disdain. Why would He since these are heartfelt sacrifices offered to Him?
So why do we put it off? For the sake of our makeup? For you men reading this, is it for the sake of your machismo? Is it because of what people will think? Even I, who teach this message of mourning and brokenness find myself waiting for a right time—a better time.
Psalm 56:8 says that God puts our tears in a bottle and writes each one in a book. Do you wonder why God cares so much about our tears? I believe it is because our tears tell of every step of brokenness we take. This is what repentance is. It is sorrow for sin and the forsaking of our will for His. It is laying every hope, dream and expectation we have ever had at God's feet waiting for Him to resurrect them and trusting Him when He doesn't.
Mourning is God's open secret to finding everlasting joy. Psalm 30:11 says that He will turn our mourning into dancing (joy). This means that mourning is not a bad thing as some are so ready to believe. Conversely, it means that mourning makes room for biblical joy. Those who have little biblical joy have allowed themselves little time to mourn—freely—with hope and without condemnation. Psalm 34:18 promises that He draws near to the broken- hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. How can we resist a promise like this? But we do.
Mourning is God's open secret
to finding everlasting joy.
Henri Nouwen wrote, "It is often difficult to believe that there is much to think, speak or write about other than brokenness".
Do not be deceived into telling yourself that your life hasn't been as tough as mine and, therefore, you don't need brokenness. Your life doesn't have to be filled with tragedy to need brokenness and repentance. We are all born unbroken and the wretchedness of unbrokenness is healed through the grieving process.
Anxieties, negative thoughts and feelings and almost all fear vanish in a few moments of weeping in the presence of Almighty God. I was an angry, impetuous, moody woman. Next to being born again February 12, 1976, this one truth of God has impacted my life more than any other. We can cry all night and all day, but if we are not turning our broken hearts toward God in these times, we will not find the healing, wholeness and deliverance we so desperately need.
We are all born unbroken and the wretchedness of unbrokenness is only healed through the grieving process.
To learn more about brokenness, click here.
To learn about God's brokenness, click here.
It was when I moved to northern California to live with my sister in 1992 that I learned to freely weep in the presence of God. It was there that God began the great healing and transformation in my soul. When I returned to Texas in 1995, I knew I didn't want to live in Dallas again. I had fallen in love with rural living, so I moved to East Texas.
It had been my dream for many years to live in Texas on a lake nestled beneath tall pines trees. Dear friends of mine had retired in Frankston during those years that I was in California. In 1992 when I first visited them there, I fell in love with the area. There were some very beautiful lots for sale, and I immediately began the process of purchasing them. When I returned from California I began construction on my home.
But my life didn't turn out quite the way I had planned. I thought when I returned from California I would spend lots of time with family and friends. I hoped to travel, attend the theater, maybe meet a godly man and get married. I longed to get back into full-time ministry. Instead, I found that my son needed me more than ever. His condition had deteriorated, and he could no longer live on his own. He desperately needed me. And I didn't know how desperately I needed him. He has lived with me ever since I returned to Texas. And he has become my hero and one of my greatest blessings. He is a courageous, noble and faithful young man facing great loss with much dignity.
My son is my hero
and my greatest blessing.
Every day is a terrible day for my son, yet he always tells me, "Mom, it's a good day." God has used him in my life. You see, I hadn't quite lain everything down—my hopes, my dreams and my expectations. I still had my own plans for my life. I was still planning the "good life" for myself. I just hadn't consulted God about those plans.
If you are wondering, he has been through deliverance, eaten an organic diet and has always had tons of prayers—not just mine but the prayers of a multitude of people.
If you are a parent, you know you would rather suffer than watch your children suffer. I'll never forget one night a few years ago. I was crying over my son's pain and he turned to me and said, "Mom, it's the cross."
A friend of mine once said to me, "I'm sick of the cross. I just want to get on with living." My friends, yes, there is death in the cross—painful death. But there is also life in the cross—the resurrection of every lost, dark moment of our lives.
The cross is the only place we will ever find true life. This is what God has done in my life the past eleven years. He has taken those last strongholds of selfishness and my "me, me, me" mentality and nailed them to the cross. I'm not saying selfishness doesn't creep up in my life, but it no longer consumes me. Today I live with gratitude for my darling son, my family, my incredible friends, my wonderful church and my loving community. I have several best friends and tons of nearly best friends. I'm so grateful the Lord has given me the capacity for intimate friendship with almost everyone I meet. There is nothing I want that I don't have except my son's healing, and I cannot complain that he isn't healed, because he and I both have been so transformed by the struggle. And sincerely, every day is a good day for us in the Lord.
There is life in the cross—
the resurrection of every lost,
dark moment of our lives.
This kind of transformation only comes through death. Death to ourselves and our selfishness. And resurrection never fails to follow.
I would like to leave you with a few things to consider. First, the crux of sin is not morality or immorality but our claim to our right to ourselves. Sin originated from our claim to our right to ourselves. And it will always be so.
We are not our own. We have been bought with a very high price. The blood of God Himself. And I am humbled and grateful for every drop.
I will pray in faith for my son's healing until the day I die. And I will trust God for my life where I am every day until I die. Through the tough times and the good times, I will trust Him, but I have learned that it is in the painful times—NOT the fun times—that we grow. And I thank God for the cross—for His cross and for my cross—for it is my only hope for resurrection in this life and in the one to come. It is my only hope to be made more like Him every day that I live.
I want you to know that when you are so tender and so injured that you cannot bear to be touched, God is holding you tight. I want you to know that you can trust God with every hope, every dream, every expectation and every loss. You can trust Him for His very best for your life. If it doesn't look like His best to you at the moment, pray for what you think is best and yield to what He thinks is best and sit back and watch. I'm not saying give up. I'm saying believe the promises of God and trust for whatever He allows to come your way.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul said that he sought the Lord three times that He would remove an unidentified thorn from his flesh. God's reply was that His grace is sufficient—that it is in weakness that we are made strong, that His power is perfected in our weakness, and we are never more weak than when we are weeping brokenly at the feet of Jesus. Satan's greatest injuries to us are transformed by God's grace into God's greatest triumphs when we are trusting Him. Don't believe me? Just look at the cross. And look at the empty tomb.
When we resist brokenness, we become hardened, embittered and more unbroken. Never forget that in Christ there is resurrection after every death in our lives, from the smallest to the greatest.
Satan's greatest injuries to us are transformed by God's grace into God's greatest triumphs when we are trusting in Him.
So now you understand the title of this booklet. It is also the title of a great old hymn.
The first verse tells my entire testimony in just four little lines.
O Love, that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer fuller be.
No matter how hard I tried to free myself from the clutch of the Lord's hand, His unfathomable love would not let me go. Trying as hard as I could to turn God into a mean, angry God, not even I could pluck myself from His gracious, loving hand. Instead, he overwhelmed me with His love. Amazing isn't it? It so validates John 10:28-29 (NIV) for me.
"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand."
I am not even close to the same woman I was on February 12, 1976, the day I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. By the grace of God alone, I am a living testimony to His mercy and grace and to the life, death and resurrection of Christ. I am happier and more fulfilled than I have ever been. And I pray that He will be more glorified in and by my life every day.
Below are the rest of the verses of "O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go". They so perfectly say what the Lord has done for me. He will do the same for you.
O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine's blaze its day may brighter, fairer be.
O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain that morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red life that shall endless be.
Lord, how can we ever thank you for Calvary? How can we thank you, Father, for bearing the pain of your Son's physical death on the cross. Even more, thank you for bearing the pain it must have caused you both to pour out your wrath against sin upon Jesus your Son, the spotless Lamb of God. We look forward to the time when we will see you face to face. Then and only then will we fully grasp the gravity, joy and purpose of it all. For now, please look into our feeble hearts and know how very grateful we are with the very little understanding we have.
Do you know Jesus? Would you like to? Open your heart and let Him have it. Ask Him to forgive you for your claim to your right to yourself. Let Him take control of your life. He will do a much better job with it than you ever dreamed possible. He always does, even when it doesn't immediately look like it. You can count on it. More important, you can count on Him.
To read more on resurrection click here.
And click here too.
I have been crucified with Christ;
and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me.
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20 NAS).
Glory to God in the highest! Amen!
Copyright 2002 by Anne Murchison
Not for commercial use.
Please feel free to copy for for personal use.
Please credit the author.