Discovering Who I Am, Endurance for the Journey, Featured

Then David sent messengers to get her.
She came to him, and he slept with her.
Then she went back home.
2 SAMUEL 11:4 (NIV)



“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
ABRAHAM LINCOLN


Like most of us, David’s greatest challenge wasn’t battles or enemies or the daily struggle to survive. It was dealing with success. He stood on that roof, out of place (he should have been leading his army), out of time (this wasn’t the moment to rest on his laurels), and out of his element (he wasn’t battling an army or a giant, he was doing battle with lust). In his success David let his guard down.


One of the advantages of living with adversity is that we are so dependent upon God, so aware of our need, that we aren’t even tempted to go it alone. Success, rather than adversity, often poses the greatest danger to our soul.


David went from standing tall on his palace roof to lying on his face before God, begging for forgiveness for the mess he had made. His fall from grace is a warning and a reminder that our need for dependence upon God is just as great on the mountaintop as it is in the valley. As the Apostle Paul put it…



So if you think you are standing firm,
be careful that you do not fall!
1 CORINTHIANS 10:12 (NIV)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Discovering Who I Am, Words of Endurance

First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
1 JOHN 4:19 (THE MESSAGE)



You have been journeying with me on my “Discovery Tour” for quite a while now and today’s writing will be the final one on this tour. I have shared a lot of momentous life changing moments along the journey. But the most profound moment – the most life changing for me took place thirty years after I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and it was when I finally understood the Original Good News – the Gift of Grace.



This was my ultimate “Aha Moment!” Once I understood the Original Good News – God’s Grace for me just as I am – it was then that I was able to fully receive His love. What a gift – and all I had to do was receive it! Accepting His Grace removed my burden of continually trying to earn His Love. The burden was so heavy and frustrating for me in my walk because in my own estimation I always missed the mark and I never felt worthy of His Love but then I accepted Jesus’ invitation to learn the unforced rhythms of grace …



“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me
and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
MATTHEW 11:28-30 (THE MESSAGE)



I am still learning the unforced rhythms of Grace but now that I feel so fulfilled with the Lord’s love I want nothing more than to extend that same grace to others. I have discovered that as I extend that grace it is so easy for me to love others – warts and all! And I have also discovered that my love and grace for others is born out of His Love and Grace for me – warts and all. I will be forever thankful that He loved us first!



So this is my prayer:
that your love will flourish and
that you will not only love much but well.
PHILIPPIANS 1:9 (THE MESSAGE)



On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky

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Discovering Who I Am, Healing, Hope, Words of Endurance

Become wise by walking with the wise;
hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.
PROVERBS 13:20 (THE MESSAGE)



With all the “aha moments” that I have experienced over the past several years – one that has caused me to do a one-eighty in my thinking was learning to reflect and discern the friends who are the positive influencers in my life. See I always thought that the positive influencers in my life – the “wise” – were those who spurned me on in my walk to be more Christ-like – who I believed to be wiser than I because they knew how to “fix” me and would lead me in the right direction.



But I have learned the truth is that no one is capable of fixing me – except for God. It is not my friend’s responsibility to fix me nor is it my responsibility to fix my friends. Thank you God! But it is our responsibility to love one another and be positive influencers in one another lives. This I can do!



There are two very distinctly different kinds of friends formed by two very distinctly different rooms.



It would be great, at this point, to reflect on those who’ve had or are attempting to have influence in your life.



Negative influencers will demand your trust of them, as a condition of their support. But it is a trust for their benefit not yours.



Positive influencers ask permission to earn trust. They will wait for permission to be let in. They put the onus on themselves, not you.



Negative influencers will see you as a sinner who needs help becoming a saint. Their goal will be fixing your issues.



Positive influencers will see you as a saint who still fails. Their goal will be to foster an environment where nothing stays hidden.



Negative influencers will measure your righteousness by how little you sin.



Positive influencers are convinced you are righteous, so they’re interested in how you’re receiving and giving love. They know that striving to sin less will not mean you love more, but that living in love will mean you are sinning less.



In the Room of Good Intentions I make you accountable to me so I can control your behavior. The result is that you end up hiding, resenting and mistrusting me. Unresolved issues remain unresolved.



In the Room of Grace I want to earn your trust so I can love you and be loved by you. The result is that you might want to give me permission to protect you, so you end up hiding nothing in the safety of my commitment. Unresolved issues are brought into the light for healing. THE CURE (JOHN LYNCH, BRUCE MCNICOL, BILL THRALL



I no longer desire to fix my friends or journey with those who want to fix me but I do desire to do life with friends with whom I can trust who I truly am. I desire doing life with a few good friends – those positive influencers – who will love me and will walk alongside me through the good times and the bad.



“Let me give you a new command: Love one another.
In the same way I loved you, you love one another.
This is how everyone will recognize
that you are my disciples—
when they see the love you have for each other.”
JOHN 13:34-35 (THE MESSAGE)



On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky

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Discovering Who I Am, Grace, Healing, Words of Endurance

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask,
“Master, how many times do I forgive
a brother or sister who hurts me?
Seven?”
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly.
Try seventy times seven.
MATTHEW 18:21 (THE MESSAGE)



I can honestly tell you that it has only been over the past five years that I have had to learn to forgive and it was someone who had hurt me deeply. And what made it even more painful was that it was a Christian brother. I know that this is unusual being that I am 57 years old but it is the truth and I can tell you that I experienced such deep pain that I thought I would never be able to forgive that person.



What made it so difficult was that I also needed forgiveness for my part. But I remembered that the Apostle Paul declared …



Make allowance for each other’s faults,
and forgive anyone who offends you.
Remember, the Lord forgave you,
so you must forgive others.
COLOSSIANS 3:13 (NLT)



But regardless of how much I knew that I needed to forgive him – I simply did not know how! Ever been there? Well I was fortunate enough to get some wise counsel from the book, The Cure, and I want to share that wisdom with you.



Forgiveness has an order. We must initiate the vertical transaction with God before we can move into the horizontal transaction with another. First, before God, I forgive the offender (s) for what they’ve done and the consequences they’ve borne in my life. This is before God and me and it does not excuse any action. It does not restore relational forgiveness to the other. This is the vertical transaction. It is a choice to free myself, to begin healing.



Trusting God’s character, strength. love and protection, I place the entire list of consequences and loss into His hands. This is a big decision. It’s a scary beautiful, overwhelming moment of trust.



I actually imagine removing every effect of that sin and placing it onto God. I hand over everything. I trust God will not mock me or ignore this or forget my pain. I trust He will protect me and defend my heart, bring beauty out of hurt. I trust He will cleanse me as He promised.



I am giving up my rights to decide what is best for that person or myself. I’m handing the case over to the only Judge who can see the entire story and who loves both the offender and the victim perfectly.



This is a unique moment when faith becomes a risked action. I’m putting everything on the line because after all this is my life my pain my reputation. Never is the proof of new life more evident than when I cede control because of my trust in His character, love and power.



Then the whole incident moves out of my sphere into God’s.



Only then will I be freed to go to my offender and forgive him. If I don’t get this right – if I attempt to forgive, unclean before God – I move toward my offender in veiled bitterness, judgment and a spirit of retribution. I bring the residue of unresolved sin into the equation and everyone can smell it.



If I say, “I’m not going to forgive until he repents,” I end up in resentment. In my unwillingness to forgive before God, I become the issue.



The question then is how do I know I’ve actually forgiven someone who’s sinned against me? Answer: The moment I can offer that person my love again. When forgiveness stays only in my mind, as a formula or technique, it doesn’t sink deep into my heart.



When I choose to let go, to forgive vertically before God, it’s like huge cement bags have been lifted off my shoulders. It’s like coming out of a moldy basement with a a cement floor and suddenly breathing ocean air on the sand at Big Sur. It feels like being home.



And now, I’m ready to move on.
THE CURE (JOHN LYNCH, BRUCE MCNICHOL, BILL THRALL)



And so my first step was a vertical move to bring it before God because I knew I was unable to force this in my own strength. It was the first step in the right direction.



It is not by force nor by strength,
but by my Spirit,
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
ZECHARIAH 4:6 (NLT)



On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky

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Discovering Who I Am, Grace, Words of Endurance

This is my command:
Love one another the way I loved you.
This is the very best way to love.
Put your life on the line for your friends.
You are my friends
when you do the things I command you.
JOHN 15:12-13 (THE MESSAGE)



We have heard it said before that the best way to have a friend is to be a friend. So how do we “be a friend?” Jesus gives us the answer when He commands us to love one another the way He loves us – with grace and unconditional love.



The greatest gift we can give to others is to love them well. But you may ask – as I once did – “How do I love others well?” Well once again we can go to the Scripture and learn and see what true love in action looks like …



Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
1 CORINTHIANS 13:4-7 (THE MESSAGE)



That is a pretty tall order if you ask me! I don’t know about you but there are a number of actions on this list – if I am going to be honest – at which I have failed miserably – like “me first” – ”flying off the handle” and “putting up with anything.” Just ask my wife, Jan.



But I can honestly tell you (and Jan will confirm) that as I have been discovering who I am and learning about the Grace and Love that God has for me – loving others well has become much easier and more natural. Loving others is easier when it is the natural overflow from the heart that starts with the love that our Heavenly Father has for us.



Love from the center of who you are;
Be good friends who love deeply;
ROMANS 12:10 (THE MESSAGE)



On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky

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Discovering Who I Am, Relationships, Words of Endurance

The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense.
PROVERBS 27:9 (THE MESSAGE)



We all long for strong healthy friendships because deep down inside we know how much we need them to journey with through this life. We desire to trust our friends with who we truly are knowing that – no matter what – we will still be loved and accepted. And we also desire to have friends that we can trust to give us heartfelt counsel and are willing to be honest with us.



An honest answer
is like a warm hug.
PROVERBS 24:26 (THE MESSAGE)



The defining moment in a friendship is when you give your friend permission to speak into your life. But whenever we take this step there is always an element of risk – a risk that we may be hurt. But the Scripture reminds us that …



Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy.
PROVERBS 27:6 (NLT)



I have found this to be so true in my own friendships – I can trust the heartfelt counsel of a sincere friend even when it hurts because their only motive is to see me mature into who I truly am. I can trust that their heart is not to harm me but to encourage me on the journey.



The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,
And a wise friend’s timely reprimand
is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
PROVERBS 25:11-12



I have learned though that this kind of trust does not happen over night but that it develops over time. I can honestly tell you that I have only just over the last couple of years realized that I have this type of trusted relationship with only a handful of friends for which I am forever grateful.



A closing thought – friendship is a two way street – it is when you give permission and are given permission that a healthy friendship can begin to grow.



On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky

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Discovering Who I Am, Relationships, Words of Endurance

A friend loves you all the time
PROVERBS 17:17 (NCV)



I love the book of Proverbs. It truly is the Book of Wisdom. Last week we learned from Proverbs how important it is to journey through life with wise, safe and trustworthy friends. There is nothing like a true friend who loves us through the good times and the bad times.



The next step is learning to trust those friends – removing the masks that we think they will like and accept – and allowing those friends to see who we truly are underneath those masks. That is a scary step for most of us – I know it was for me – especially within the Christian community. Because …



We gain admiration and respect from behind a mask. We can even intimidate. But as long as we’re behind a mask, any mask, we will not be able to receive love. Then, in our desperation to be loved, we’ll rush to fashion more masks, hoping the next will give us what we’re longing for: To be known, accepted, trusted and loved THE CURE (JOHN LYNCH, BRUCE MCNICHOL, BILL THRALL)



And the truth is that mask wearing stunts our growth – our maturing process. We will never mature into who we truly are until we learn to remove our masks and reveal our struggles and weaknesses with trustworthy friends. The purpose of friendships is to help one another grow and mature – sharpening us into who we never dreamed we could be.



As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
PROVERBS 27:17 (NLT)



On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky

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Discovering Who I Am, Relationships, Words of Endurance

God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone;
I’ll make him a helper, a companion.”
GENESIS 2:18 (THE MESSAGE)



It is true that we cannot do this life alone – God never meant for us to do it alone. We need our relationship with God but we also need real relationships with others as we journey through this life together. We need one another in order to mature into who we truly are.



Because not all people are “safe people” the Scripture does instruct us that we do need to be careful about WHO we choose to journey through life with …



Godly people are careful about the friends they choose.
PROVERBS 12:26 (NIRV)



And the type of friends we can trust and walk with …



Become wise by walking with the wise;
hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.
PROVERBS 13:20 (THE MESSAGE)



I know for me I am so grateful for my true, wise, trusted, and safe friends and family who have skipped along the mountaintops with me and celebrated each triumph and yet they didn’t dessert me when I trudged through the valleys of life with all my personal struggles. I thank God that …



Friends love through all kinds of weather,
and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.
PROVERBS 17:17 (THE MESSAGE)



My prayer for all of you on this journey is that you are not journeying this life alone. I pray that you have true and trustworthy friends and family to journey with through life. And if you do not – because you do not know if you can trust anyone – then I pray that God will heal your broken heart and give you the courage to open your heart and learn to trust others again. Because remember and know …



Friends come and friends go,
but a true friend sticks by you like family.
PROVERBS 18:24 (THE MESSAGE)



On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky

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Discovering Who I Am, Relationships, Words of Endurance

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
PSALM 139:13-16 (THE MESSAGE)



I just recently visited the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and one of the highlights was when I was able to visit the laboratory where they are studying the cell for the purpose of stem cell transplants. As the scientist explained how each cell functions and all that these cells do in protecting us – I stood in awe! I was amazed at how marvelously made we are! I could only cry out as King David did in Psalm 139 – what a creation we are – created by the Great Creator!



He knows us inside and out – which means He knows our hearts – the very seat of our being. There is no hiding our hearts from Him. And what is even harder for me to grasp – harder for me to wrap my finite human mind around – is that even though He knows my heart He still loves me!



I am an open book before God – one more reason that I do not need to try and hide my heart from God because I can’t! This is one more good reason to shed my masks and be real before God! This is one more good reason that I can trust God with who I truly am – warts and all – because …



I’m an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can’t take it all in!
PSALM 139:1-6 (THE MESSAGE)



On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky

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Discovering Who I Am, Healing, Peace, Words of Endurance

“God judges persons differently than humans do.
Men and women look at the face;
God looks into the heart.”
1 SAMUEL 16:7 (THE MESSAGE)



I have learned that the masks that I wore were pretty much useless because God bypasses any mask that we wear and goes straight for the heart. After all Jesus did say to the Apostle John on the Island of Patmos that …



… appearances don’t impress me.
REVELATION 2:23 (THE MESSAGE)



So even though the Scriptures share that …



The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
a puzzle that no one can figure out.
JEREMIAH 17:9 (THE MESSAGE)



We can feel safe with God and trust that as He searches our “dark and deceitful” hearts that He will get to the “root of things” if our hearts need changing …



But I, God, search the heart
and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
not as they pretend to be.”
JEREMIAH 17:9-10 (THE MESSAGE)



And He will give us a “new heart” as He has promised …



I’ll give you a new heart.
I’ll put a new spirit in you.
I’ll cut out your stone heart
and replace it with a red-blooded, firm-muscled heart.
Then you’ll obey my statutes
and be careful to obey my commands.
You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!
EZEKIEL 11:19-20 (THE MESSAGE)



And then there will be no need for any mask because our hearts will reflect what He is doing in our hearts …



Just as water mirrors your face,
so your face mirrors your heart.
PROVERBS 27:19 (THE MESSAGE)



On the Journey with You,
Dave Dravecky

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