by Loretta Walker
The first and most important step forward, of course, was salvation. I got saved at the age of 17 after attending a fundamental church for three months. I understood salvation only after being scared enough about a burning hell to ask someone how to escape that unhappy ending. I realized I was a sinner and needed forgiveness for my sins. That was easy to believe. The hard part to believe was that God would forgive my sins (probably because I had so many unforgiving feelings myself). But God did forgive me, and I immediately was baptized because I wanted to please God so much to show my appreciation for my salvation.
After salvation, I, of course, felt guilty for my feelings against my dad, but I didn’t know how to overcome them. I remember that the first verse I ever memorized was Proverbs 20:1 which says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” I think I memorized this out of resentment toward my dad.
I started reading my Bible every day after being challenged to do so by the assistant pastor. This was the greatest thing I could have done to cleanse away bitterness and hard feelings from the past.
Something very important happened sometime after I got saved. I really took God as my Father. Some people simply get saved and know Jesus as their Saviour, but completely miss the relationship they can have with God as their Father. Because of the absence of a father figure in my life, I really didn’t know how to do this. So I did a Bible study and looked up every verse which used the terms “father,” “son,” “daughter,” etc. As you might guess, this took quite a while, but it was definitely profitable. Verses that remain with me are:
Psalm 27:10 — “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” This means that God really did take me as His own daughter.
II Corinthians 6:18 — “And will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” I remember thinking, “God can’t be my Father unless I let Him.” God has given me the choice in this also.
Galatians 4:6-7 — “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” I used this a lot to ask my Heavenly Dad to help me get over my wrong emotions. Please understand that this Father/daughter relationship was entirely for help with my feelings. It wasn’t until I came to Mount Salem Revival Grounds as a staff member five years ago that I started trusting in my heavenly Father for daily provisions and other needs.
The next step in my healing was to go to Hyles-Anderson College. You can’t sit under the preaching of Brother Hyles (the son of an alcoholic) and not get help for damaged emotions. Such sermons as, “Forbearance,” which directed me to give to my dad what he needed from me instead of what I felt like giving, was so very helpful. Brother Hyles also taught a series on the love of God, which drew me even closer to my Heavenly Father.
Then I took Mrs. Evans’ Educational Psychology class where I learned, “Behavior is always caused, and causes are always multiple.” I can’t explain everything about this, except that it caused me to look at my dad’s background and to understand some possible reasons for his problem. I originally wanted to blame him for his actions and wanted to think he could have helped himself, and this may have been absolutely true. However, those types of thoughts only bring more bitterness and resentment. I now believe I should reserve that thinking for myself and my problems only. I can and should blame myself for my problems and for my wrong attitudes. But those around me deserve the benefit of the doubt. After hearing this teaching from Mrs. Evans, I immediately wrote to my dad. It was not an “I-forgive-you-for-not-being-what-I-needed” letter, but a general letter to let him know I was thinking about him. As possible, I did more with him and for him.
I wish I could express to you the complete peace I received from my Heavenly Father. I thank God I did get right with my dad then, because four years later he died. If you have a relationship that is not what it should be, may I challenge you to get help with it now. If you have already missed your opportunity to get right, simply go to your Heavenly Father and ask Him to help you with your feelings. He can help you…and He will!