Christian Motivational Speaker Derek Clark Shares His Experience of Feeling Abandoned By God to Feeling Embraced By God While in Foster Care.
I am going to share with you a bit of my journey on finding faith in God. As a Christian motivational speaker, I get the opportunity to help others overcome adversity and be an instrument in helping others find hope. I wasn’t always strong like that though. Here begins my journey towards finding love from God.
The following is an excerpt from my book “I Will Never Give Up On God Again”. For the greater part of my life, I believed God never loved me or listened to me. I felt like He’d thrown me away in the same callous way my parents had. I felt all alone. Believers may occasionally feel solitude, but their isolation is alleviated by their faith in the presence of God. I couldn’t enjoy that same comfort. I was just lonely.
As a kid, I felt even more alone in church, when the congregation would collectively bear testimony to the truth of God. I might be in the middle of a few hundred people, yet the loneliness would settle coldly over me like snow. I had no connection with God. Yes, I would smile and agree with everyone else, pretending to give testimony. But doing so, if it fooled anybody else, certainly didn’t fool me. I always envied the others at my church. They were all so lucky, and so loved by God.
I questioned God’s existence. I tested Him by showing no appreciation. I would yell at Him, cuss at Him, mock Him. I would disrespect the church leaders. I would act out in His holiest places of worship, and laugh loudly during prayers. I certainly had no love in my heart for Him. I would justify it by saying, “God doesn’t love me. If He did, He wouldn’t let little kids like me suffer. Why should I love Him?” The only time I’ve even felt close to God in any way was during the birth of my children. But the feeling of intimacy with something miraculous wasn’t sustained, and I soon reverted back to my normal patterns of thinking.
As a child and throughout my thirteen years in foster care, I had a rough time mentally, emotionally and physically. I never considered the possibility that God was helping by getting me away from a mother who didn’t care for me, or want me around—who even accused me of being possessed by the devil himself. Thank God I got out of that house. Had I been raised in that place, I probably would have turned into a mental case, or ended up in prison, or even dead.
My mother, father, and stepfather all did some horrific things to me, so I must give God the credit for taking me out of that situation. God was there in His triumphant glory, lifting me out of a bad home, and putting me in a foster home where the parents worked with me and loved me, even though I’d been wrongly diagnosed as mentally handicapped. (as it states in my county psychiatric and neurological evaluations at age six)
I have played the victim role by constantly blaming God. I had an angel’s heart, but I was a confused and mislabeled little boy who could only communicate through rage and violence. This tendency followed me into my teenager years, as I became more self-destructive.
After the drowning incident of a little 3 year old girl that was dead and came back to life through the power of prayer, my view on God was forever changed. My perception of Him was much more clear-headed, not so clouded by previous history. With clarity came guilt. I realized I had done some real trash-talking about my God. When I was blaspheming and disparaging Him, I didn’t think I was poisoning myself with the spiteful mockery, but I was. It all became so obvious. I felt guilty for not respecting the Creator of my life.
I realized that I now had to have a heart-to-heart talk with God. This was a whole new level of communication. It’d been so long since I sincerely prayed. I knelt on the floor in my closet, where I knew I wouldn’t be interrupted. I bowed my head and crossed my arms reverently, waiting in silence. I gathered my thoughts on what I wanted to say to the Almighty God. Tears of shame started to swell up in my eyes. I opened them for a moment, then squeezed them shut, causing hot tears to roll down my cheeks. These tears were long overdue.
Watch Christian motivational speaker Derek Clark’s inspiring video about his life in foster care “God Save That Little Boy”
I started off my prayer by saying “God, please forgive me. Forgive me for what I have become in Your eyes. Please forgive me for the disrespect and mockery, for taking your name in vain all these years.” I needed to get it all out, confess both to myself and to God the true nature of what I’d done, and let Him cast His righteous judgment upon me. What I felt next was not judgment, not harsh words, not sudden death or the cold shoulder of God. I felt only warmth and love. God didn’t say anything to me, exactly. I didn’t hear His booming voice reverberating through my head. But He did put peace in my heart, something I hadn’t enjoyed for a long time.
You see, when you harbor negative feelings in your heart, you can still become successful in life. You can make money and friends. But it’s hard to feel gratitude toward the creator of life, God. I was successful in my personal and financial life, but spiritually I was poverty-stricken. I still didn’t believe in a God who loved me, a God who wanted to help me.
God was still an adversary. When I was yelling, cursing, and taking His name in vain, I knew I was doing something wrong. But the more I did it, the less wrong it came to feel.
Sacrilege became a habit. It became easier and easier to cut Him off and disrespect Him. The more I insulted God the further away I pushed Him. But the further away He became, the more I wished for intimacy with Him.
Even so filled with anger, I didn’t entirely sever myself from God. I still went to church and tried to do the right thing. I just didn’t care for Him as my God. I thought if I tried to follow His rules, He would miraculously call me by name one day: “Derek, you make me so proud!” I longed for something, some kind of grace, that I knew only God could provide, but I grew tired waiting for Him. Like an impertinent child I tried to chastise Him for not bending to my own needs and desires. What a patient God He is! After all these years of ill-will I’d shown Him, I knew He didn’t judge me, or hold me accountable for all the things I said and did. But on my knees, crying in the closet, asking for his mercy, I only felt the peace of forgiveness.
As I finished up my prayer, I knew God did love me. I knew He’d been watching over me my entire life. I was certain of this. At times, when I picture Him looking down on me, I see sadness in His eyes. He sees me keep stumbling through my trials and tribulations. He sees me making mistakes and take the wrong path. I think of Him waiting for me to call on Him, saying “Heavenly Father, please help me find a solution! Give me the strength to fight my way through this trial!” I don’t believe God was waiting for me to say, “Hey God! Get me out of this situation now!” I now know to ask for inspiration, guidance, and wisdom, so I can make the right decisions.
Instead of merely begging to be rescued, I ask for a change of perspective. God wants us to learn the lessons life has to teach. If we don’t experience struggle, we aren’t fully human. How do you become a stronger person? Not from constantly being rescued, but marching your way victoriously through the trenches. It gives me great pleasure knowing I have overcome a troubled past. If I had been rescued, perhaps I’d have taken a much different road in life. Maybe I would have been content with feeling like a victim. Maybe I would have never seen the value of developing personal strength and endurance. Maybe weakness would have led me to drug and alcohol addiction, or unable to resist a violent impulse.
Trials have made me stronger, period. I would not want to trade my problems for anybody else’s. I wouldn’t want to walk in anyone else’s shoes, whether more comfortable or not. My shoes were designed for walking through my own problems. My shoes have carried me through some pretty chaotic journeys. My shoes and I have traveled through the thick of many storms. And now I’m able to buy some great shoes for these weathered feet! My new shoes are water-proof, storm-proof, and heat-proof! No way, no sir, I do not want to have on any shoes that are not my own. I am blessed for the problems I’ve had to overcome. I believe God gave me problems because He wanted me to overcome. God has a plan for Derek Clark.
As I get older, and hopefully wiser, God inspires me to be smarter, to value life more, and to share an important message. The message is that no problem is so big or so small, so simple or so complex, that you cannot ask Him for guidance. You just have to ask with true intent and a humble heart. Prayer doesn’t secure you a fast-track pass to God and a bunch of easy answers. I don’t believe He will completely deliver you from troubles without you doing your part. I believe He’ll give you the strength and insight to deliver yourself from any particular problem. He is a strength and He wants to help you help yourself. I believe we’re all here to learn lessons that are particular to our own life. Without these lessons, we remain souls stunted in our growth.
I no longer have animosity towards God. He has released me from the bonds of my own personal hell. He has helped me break the shackles of ego and pride. He has given me the insight to know that my weaknesses one day will become my strengths. The strong rely on God! I am still here breathing on this Earth. I have a yearning to praise Him. I have compassion in my heart for my fellow men and women. God is now by my side. I have let Him in my heart. Real hope is through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Reach out to Him. I now realize that I wasn’t a victim of God, I was a victor with God.
Written by Derek Clark