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Is God Really Good and Loving?

I thought I really trusted God’s goodness and love. I could tell you God was loving and good, I could even teach a Bible study on it.

But God wanted to grow me and so he showed me the true state of my soul, that actually I didn’t fully trust in his goodness and love. I found myself in an incredible crisis, a long and painful Dark Night of the Soul and then a healing journey forward.

I Couldn’t Surrender Fully to God

In 2004 Bill and I were listening to Larry Crabb at the Spiritual Formation Forum and he was calling us to absolute, complete surrender to God — to the point of total death to self and desolation. He asked people to stand up and say, “Yes. I surrender myself totally to God and his will.”

I couldn’t stand up! I was crying to God, “I want to stand up, I can’t honestly because I’m not that surrendered to you. I don’t want to suffer. I’m afraid to trust.” This, fear was keeping me in my chair and I sank into a depression that lasted for months.

Shortly after this while driving my car, I was listening to Dallas Willard’s teaching on the Kingdom of God, and he said, “Do you really trust that God is good and he loves you?  Do you really?… Think carefully about this… In every part of your soul… Do you fully trust that God loves you and he is only kind and generous toward you?”

Then Dallas said, “If you don’t trust that God is good for the child dying of starvation in Africa, you don’t really trust that for you.”

I thought, “Whoa! How could I believe that? I cried and prayed, “God, I don’t trust that you love the starving child in Africa and I don’t fully trust that you love me.”

My Dark Night of the Soul kept getting darker, scarier, and more painful. I couldn’t see my way out of the depression and doubt, I kept thinking, “Am I even a Christian? Everything I’ve built my life on and what I’ve professed to believe, do I really believe these things? God, I’m not sure what to do if I can’t trust that you are good and loving.”

It was a terrible crisis for me, and God had me on a long journey to restore me in ways that I never could have accomplished on my own and didn’t even know I needed.

I Reached Out For Help

At that time I sensed God inviting me to reach out to Jane Willard. Bill was ambitious with his work and ministry and I was feeling guilty and lonely. I was constantly putting the brakes on him, holding him back from ministry opportunities. He was the racehorse and I was the guard rail. He was ready to run but I kept saying, “No. No. No.” I felt terrible guilt and shame. So I asked her if I could  meet with her.

Jane replied, “It will take you three hours each way to drive to my house and I’m sure God doesn’t want you to do that. You really need to pray about this.”

So I kept praying about it. I sensed the Lord saying, “Kristi, if Mary could travel by donkey for 80 miles to meet with Elizabeth then you can travel by car 84 miles to meet with Jane.” So I called her back and said, “I’m pretty sure God wants me to meet with you.”

My Experience with Healing Prayer

So I drove six hours round-trip a number of times over many months to meet with Jane at the Willard’s house. She was so generous and hospitable with me. In our first meeting I wanted her to fix the part of me that was holding Bill back, but she asked, “Why are you holding back from trusting fully in God’s love and goodness for you?”

I was resistant. It felt vulnerable to talk about this, but she was gentle in her persistence. I felt her care. She began leading me in healing prayer for my fear and doubts toward God.

We discovered that the root of my mistrust in God was that I didn’t believe it was good that I was born and I was alive. I wasn’t conscious of that thought before. When I was born I had an illness called, Pyloric Stenosis — I know of someone whose nephew died from that. The muscle between my stomach and small intestine was closed off so that I couldn’t get the food into my digestive system. As an infant whenever I ate anything I would projectile vomit across the room. I needed surgery to correct this or I would’ve died.

Jane helped me to realize that deep inside I had concluded unconsciously, “I shouldn’t be alive. I should’ve died. There’s something wrong with me. I was born defective.” I was holding this against God as if to say, “I’m not sure that I can trust you when you created me like that.”

But through many hours of conversation with Jane and her leading me in the healing prayer process, along with many other learning experiences, I was able more and more to be free of depression and shame and to look at all of life, including the painful and difficult times, and say, “God has been good to me. And God has loved me.”

This doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle with feelings of discouragement and doubt at times. The point is that when I do have these emotions I choose to be grateful that God is a Father who is always good and loving to me, to you, and to us all.

More Soul Shepherding

It can be fun to learn to trust God! “Floating on a Raft Taught Me to Trust God’s Love.”

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