The Teaching Ministry of Constance Burgess
God's Agape Love - A Personal Testimony
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law,” (Ro. 13:8). “Love never faileth…” (1 Cor. 13:8, ASV).
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death,” I John 3:14.
Have you ever harbored hatred in your heart? Did it possess your waking moments with thoughts and images of murder, death and your nemesis burning in the flames of hell? Did such thoughts give you immense pleasure, even though you knew it was wrong to feel that way?
Today’s blog is a personal testimony of how God worked His love into my hate-filled heart in a very specific situation when I was a teenager. If you’re struggling with the spirit of hate, I pray this message will help bring you to deliverance.
The Only Man I Ever Hated
After my mom and dad divorced, my mom married a man who was no better than my dad had been: a drunkard who became violently abusive when intoxicated. He terrified me. Nevertheless, my mom would allow him to drive me to school and before I could get out the car he would grab me and kiss me on my mouth. This was seen by several teachers and the word got back to my mother who became very upset with me. Even though I had given my life to Christ at age twelve, I had grown to hate this man who I refused to acknowledge as my step-father. He had beaten my mother too many times and I had lived in fear for years. There had to be a way to get peace in our home again. If only he were dead…
Like a cancer, hatred began to grow and spread throughout my heart and soul. Oh, how I longed for this man to be gone! I wanted him to suffer…to be tormented… to be in excruciating and unending pain.
I became obsessed with thoughts of his demise. Then one day, the trigger was pulled. He started arguing with my mom and he escalated into beating and kicking her to the floor. No more! I’m not going to stand by and watch this happen again! As I ran out the house I had only one thought in mind: this is the day I kill him! As fate would have it, I spied a huge board with long rusty nails laying in the grass in the backyard. Before I knew what I was doing, I had grabbed the weapon and was headed back into the house, seeing myself beating the life out of him as I was hitting him over the head repeatedly, fracturing his skull and spilling his life blood all over the floor. Somehow that image excited me! I felt pleasure at the thought of him dying and going to hell. I imagined him screaming in the tormenting flames of the lake of fire and brimstone and it delighted my soul.
By the time I got back into the house, an uncle of mine had arrived. When my mother saw me running in through the back door of the kitchen, I must have looked wildly insane, for she immediately told my uncle to grab me and hold me back. He caught me and was doing his best to restrain me, but was having a rough time of it. My mom looked at her husband and told him to flee. He took one look at me and fled out the door front door. I was raging like a madman. Thoughts of reason tried to flood my mind: “if you kill him you could go to jail for life!” Nevertheless, my inner voice responded that it would be worth it as long as he was dead!
When it dawned on me that my stepdad had escaped and I was not going to be able to kill him, I began to tremble and weep. As my uncle held me, I began to calm down. When the rage ceased and my thoughts cleared, I “came to myself” and was terrified of me! My body was still trembling involuntarily when a new reality dawned upon me: I truly was capable of murder! Had it not been for the intervention of my uncle that day, I would have killed a man for sure. This is a picture of seething hatred. Deep rooted hatred. It was an entity that came upon me and lodged within my heart: a demon spirit. I had felt what people might called “temporary insanity”. I felt crazy; but, it was a part of me, but God was not going to allow it to remain there.
GOD’S WAY OF DELIVERANCE – You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me!
I was a Christian. I loved God. I enjoyed His Presence and could hear His voice. So sweet. In those days, I had the blessed privilege of going straight to the church after school where I would “hang out with God” and do my homework and play around on the piano because the doors of the church were never locked. I enjoyed being alone with God. I would rather go to the church than home because of the peace and quiet and awesomeness of His Presence. It was my place of refuge. I never talked to God about my mother’s husband or how I felt about him, but that didn’t stop Him from knowing! And the time came when He needed to address this issue in my life, for He was after my whole heart and darkness had invaded it. I may have to paraphrase the conversation with Him a little bit, but it went something like this:
God: I need you to forgive “George” (not his real name).
Me: Oh, God, I don’t think I can do that and really mean it!
God: There is something I need you to do that will deliver you.
Me: What, Lord?
God: You need to ask “George” to forgive you for hating him. I was shocked and even offended by these words of my heavenly Father.
Me: You’ve got to be kidding me? Me ask him to forgive me? What? He’s the sinner, Lord! He doesn’t love You or try to serve You or do what’s right. He’s the abusive one. He’s the one who’s wrong! And You want me to ask him to forgive me? That really sounds backwards to me. I’m sorry, but I don’t think so.
End of conversation! And end of all the peace I had been feeling when I was alone with God. rom that point moving forward, I could no longer sense the Presence of God with me. The joy of praise and worship evaded me. How could God be treating his sixteen year old daughter like this? It just didn’t seem right or fair. God was unrelenting and I was unrepenting! Instead of me fighting the enemy, I now found myself wrestling with the God of Love who wanted His agape to invade my heart. It was impossible for me to see myself “loving” George. So, after several weeks I had to admit to God:
Me: God, if I have to forgive this man and ask him to forgive me, then I guess I’m going to go to hell! I just can’t adjust my attitude to do this thing.
God: So, you’re going to let this man have so much power over you that you will allow an attitude toward him to send you to hell? You’re going to miss out on heaven because of him?
God sure has a way of making you think! And I didn’t like the thought that came to me: If I didn’t forgive this man, I’d end up in the same place I wanted him to go! I found myself in a dilemma. I knew I couldn’t hide anything from God, so I said to Him honestly:
Me: Okay, I’m going to do what You ask; but, I still hate him! I can’t change that. If You tell me to ask him to forgive me. Okay. I’ll ask him to forgive me. But only because You’re telling me I have to do it!
From that day forward, I entered into another dimension of warfare with the demonic realm. I had made a decision to do what God wanted me to do, even if I had to do it with a bad attitude. However, now a spirit of fear would come upon me. I became afraid to say anything to “George” and began to avoid him like the plague. Every time I got around him, I knew I was to ask him to forgive me for hating him, and I would get so nervous I would tremble and sweat and quickly exit the room. My heart would be thumping out of my chest. I had grown up with speech impediments that required two years of therapy to correct when I was a young child. Now those impediments were emerging again! Fear was taking me backwards! My prayer changed. To do the will of God I would need boldness. I practiced what I would say and timed how long it would take to say it. I plotted as to the perfect way to get the job done and finally the perfect setup came. With my backpack in hand I was heading to the front door out the house for school and had to pass by George. Without breaking my stride, I spoke the words while grabbing for the door knob for a quick exit.
Me: Bye. Gotta get to school. George: Bye. Me: By the way, God told me I needed to repent for hating you and to ask you to forgive me. So, please forgive me for hating you.
As I rushed out the door and quickly closed it behind me before he could respond, I immediately felt like a heavy load was lifted off of me. After weeks of struggling, I had finally gotten the words out of my mouth and the deed was done within three seconds! So much tension left me and there was such relief in my soul that I was overcome and collapsed on the porch and began to cry uncontrollably. I don’t know how long I wept, but as the tears flowed, it was as if God was washing away the heavy burden of sin that had imprisoned my heart. He then blanketed me in His love and gave me a feeling I cannot explain and a lightness to my spirit I had not previously known. The power of God met me right then and there and did for me what I could not do for myself: delivered me forever.
IN HIS PRESENCE AGAIN!
After school I went to the church rather than home. For the first time in a long time, God met with me again. I felt the joy of His Presence. He leaped in my heart. In the days to come I would find out that He had supernaturally taken away all the hatred and replaced it with His Agape love for George. I was able to pray for my stepdad and ask God to forgive him and save him. It didn’t matter how “George” responded; I now had an experience with God that made Him more real to me than ever before – and definitely more powerful. And in the years to come, I would also discover that my deliverance from the spirit of hatred was so powerful and permanent that I have never been able to hate anyone again. Yes, I’ve been angry. But I know what real hatred is and I also know that when God delivers you and places His agape in you, you can live a lifetime without ever going through that same trial again.
OBEY GOD REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU FEEL
Did this testimony bless you? It is a true story. I needed God’s supernatural grace to bring me to the place He wanted me to be. He showed me what I needed to do in this situation and I know that He will show you what you need to do in your specific situation as well. Trust Him and just be honest with Him every step of the way. When He delivers, the results are amazing. Whatever happened to “George”? Now that is awesome as well! God works on “both sides of the equation”, as it were. After asking him to forgive me, God began to deal with my stepdad’s heart. Conviction came upon him and instead of me trying to avoid him, he did everything he could to avoid me! But then one day, he broke down and literally fell to his knees in front of me, crying out and begging me to truly forgive him and not hate him. My heart melted towards him. He begged me to pray for him. He truly repented and changed his ways and stopped drinking. However, my mom was not ready to change at that time [she was to get saved much later] and so they ended up divorced and “George” left. I never saw or heard from him again, but I have a sneaky suspicion that I will see him in heaven.
I love him.
“…the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,” (Ro. 5:5)….