The seeker with a shattered heart
by Glen Doss, Major –
As tears rolled down the big man’s face, his voice broke so that his words were barely audible. I leaned forward in my chair to catch them:
“It’s been more than 40 years, but what was stolen from me left a permanent hole in my heart,” he confided. “I was abused in every way possible as a child. I was raised in eight different institutions. My heart was literally ripped out of me. It’s a miracle I even survived. How can you say God loves me? God doesn’t love me; he hates me!
“Major, you told us in class that addiction leads to a gradual loss of identity. But that isn’t true of people like me. We never found out who we are in the first place because we didn’t have parent figures to show us how to live. We never developed personal identities. In fact, we are even now still trying to find ourselves. How can we lose our identities when we never developed any in the first place?”
As we talked on, the gray-haired gentleman vented his enormous resentment toward the authority figures in his life during his childhood, who, he said, ripped from his heart something vital for him to ever be complete as a person—and which he was convinced could never be reclaimed. Consequently, there remained a deep hole in his heart. His anger was intense. The tension in the room was palpable.
I opened the Bible and shared with him a verse of Scripture: When my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take care of me (Psalm 27:10 NKJ). He abruptly dismissed it with a wave of his hand. “That means nothing to me,” he said.
Weeks passed before the gentleman asked to see me again. This time he settled confidently into his chair, leaning back with an air of resolve. “I’ve been reflecting a lot lately,” he began, “and I realize that all my life I have wanted somebody to pay for the pain inflicted on me when I was a child. But I just found out the only person who was left to pay is now dead!” His voice cracked, and, for a moment, I thought he was going to sob. Then, with a sudden burst of emotion, he announced: “There’s no one left to pay for what was done to me! No one at all left alive! So it’s become clear to me that I need to move on!” He said it almost with a note of triumph in his voice. I nodded aggressively in agreement.
He leaned forward expectantly, anxious to hear what I had to say. After briefly reflecting, I resumed the conversation from his prior visit about the all-embracing love that God holds for each of us. And this time he listened.
I spoke of the comforting motherhood of God: As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you (Isaiah 66:13 NIV).
I reminded him Jesus promised he would not abandon us: I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you….Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me (John 14:18, NIV). And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:20 NIV).
I told him ours is a God who consoles and gladdens: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…(2 Cor. 1:3 NIV).
Like this seeker, the men and women who come to our institutions for help often had something vital stolen from their personhood when they were small children, leaving them emotionally crippled. They can find the answers they come looking for in the parenting love of God.
The personal connection you and I make with the hurting, lost soul is the key that opens the door they can walk through to Jesus. We have the opportunity to be the vital link between them and a personal relationship with Christ. We must seize the opportunity! However, only as the seeking soul sees in each of us an example of the deep love God has for them will they accept our message that God is love. Consequently, it is absolutely essential that we form a bond of trust with each seeker: This is the personal connection we must make.
If I have learned anything of value in my ministry, it is that only as others perceive my genuine concern for them, will they believe me when I inform them God cares for them. Our personal witness is a very powerful thing! If there is one scriptural mandate that stands out over all the others it is the command to love: To love God with all our heart and others as equals to ourselves (Matt. 22:37-39). And Scripture is clear: That love must be sincere (Rom. 12:9).
God’s love for each of us has been compared to the Amazon River flowing down to water just one daisy. To what can ours be compared?