Harry Coffman lived much of his life not feeling good enough, being burdened with doubt and condemnation of his past. In this book, Good Enough, he tells about his life journey.
Because of a shocking event, Harry found something was wrong with his beliefs. For years he had been a believer and knew he had been forgiven. His prayers were going unanswered-was it God or me? There had to be something wrong with me. During the three years living in minor seclusion, studying and praying, suddenly by revelation he discovered he was good enough! Since that time marvelous things have happened in his life. He sees the grace and blessings of God and is able to live what was accomplished through Christ on the cross. "I am free!"
Whatever your background, experience, or belief, you will find healing and redemption in this story of one man discovering his true identity-the identity God had in mind in the beginning.
Now, with an open mind, begin this wonderful adventure discovering your true identity, knowing you are good enough will enable you to more fully experience the blessing of God in your life as never before!
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Good EnoughDiscovering the Secret of Your True Identity
By Dr. Harry E. Coffman
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Dr. Harry E. Coffman
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHow I Became a Believer
When I was four years old, I remember my mom chasing my drunk, alcoholic dad out of our house with a big, old butcher knife. I was standing by my crib, screaming and crying uncontrollably, because I was very frightened. My mother came running to me and angrily spanked me with the same butcher knife. Since that terrifying night, I don't remember ever seeing her angrier than she was with my dad. Thinking back, this is my first childhood memory.
Another time, she almost cut off my thumb with the same knife. Now, I am getting ahead of the story. My mom was a small, wiry woman, barely weighing one hundred pounds, and she was timid in some situations. However, she could hold her own and was not afraid to tackle any situation. No man or creature big or small could intimidate her. She could build or repair anything, including building the little log house we lived in.
I don't remember very much except being beaten many times, sometimes until I was unconscious. Living in a little log house in Cave Junction, I remember being tied to oak trees in the blazing southern Oregon sun without food for three or four days. Then, every time I brought a report card home, I would inevitably receive a beating and promptly be sent to my bedroom without any food. Emotionally, I was frustrated, terrified, and I felt unloved and unwanted. I felt alone against everyone in my world.
I never knew what action she might take. Often, as we were sitting at the dinner table, she would suddenly hit me in the face with her fist. Apparently, I did something that agitated her. What did I unconsciously do? Was I chewing food while talking with my mouth open? Did I have my elbows on the table? I never knew why I was being reprimanded and never received an explanation. Once, I reached across the table for the butter instead of politely asking for it to be passed to me. Immediately, she picked up the dreaded butcher knife, which she always kept within reach, and she whacked my thumb, almost cutting it off. Today, I still wear the scars on both thumbs from this and another attack from that horrid knife.
My whole childhood was lived in fear of the pain being inflicted on me. Often, I slept under my bed for fear that she would come and start beating me with her belt or anything handy. I could do nothing right and was yelled and cursed at all of the time. The one thing she incessantly said was, "You are just like your dad." Because of her hatred for my dad and for men in general, her anger was always directed toward me—never toward my sister.
None of this helped my self-esteem or self-image. Besides the abuse, my peers made fun of me. My red hair, freckles, bucked teeth, and less than up-to-date clothing (due to lack of funds) gave my peers an excuse to enjoy taunting me.
When I was fifteen, I lived with my mother and sister in Phoenix, Arizona. At the middle school, I met Joe Guzman, who soon became my best friend. I was always hanging out at his house, enjoying the family atmosphere and his mother's homemade tortillas and frijoles.
One day after having been beaten severely for some unknown reason, something snapped in me. It was then that I made up my mind that I would never allow myself to be beaten again by my mother or anyone else. As a result, I decided to run away. My plans were to catch a train to Happy Camp, California, where my uncle and aunt were living. There, I would be able to work in the woods with my cousins. However, that well-devised plan never came to fruition.
Instead, I decided to hang out on the streets of Phoenix for several days, sleeping and eating wherever. I hadn't been in school, at Joe's house, or with the Mexican gang that Joe and I ran with. That raised a question in Joe's mind, and he was determined to find me. First, he went to my house and asked where I was. My mother assumed that I'd run away when she heard him ask for me. She told Joe what she thought had happened to me and proceeded to tell him emphatically to get off her property.
Joe and his brother and father began looking all over town for me. They finally found me downtown. I was tired, frightened, and filthy from spending several days on the streets. They talked me into coming home to live with them.
When we arrived at their home, Mrs. Guzman, a motherly, caring woman, had a tub filled with hot water for a much-needed bath, as well as new underclothes, new pants, and shirt for me. After the bath and clean clothes, I enjoyed a big feast of Mexican food that had been prepared just for me. For the first time in my life, I felt good and accepted.
Mr. Guzman was a very strong man, both physically and in character. He was the foreman of a building construction company, where he had many men under his supervision. After I was cleaned up and had that big, scrumptious meal, he sat me down and said to me, "Colorado (which means "red" in Spanish), I will let you live here, and I will treat you as one of my sons. I will teach you how to work, and I will pay you like I pay them, but you must obey me. You will also finish your eighth grade. I will go to your mother and tell her that you are with us. Are you in agreement with that?"
"Yes, sir!" I said, and I happily stayed with them.
Life became very good. I worked hard and learned how to handle money. Graduation from the eighth grade was an accomplishment for me. I looked forward to it with anticipation, knowing without a doubt that my mother and sister would be in the audience since we had made amends and I had sent her some money. Alas, they didn't come, and this caused more hurt feelings and old frustrations.
Learning to handle money the way Mr. Guzman taught me was an asset. Nevertheless, I was never able to save money for myself. When I received payment for my work, I would give all of it to my mother to make sure that my sister had food.
After a while, I got a job working in a well-known, upper-class restaurant. One day, a well-dressed, distinguished-looking man came in. I thought, "This must be a very wealthy gentleman—maybe a millionaire!" Striking up a conversation with him, I heard how he traveled throughout the United States, and he had the perfect job for me, entitling me to make money and travel to places I had never been. He seemed credible, and his proposition was convincing. Maybe I could have more money to give to my mother! Since I was fifteen years old and felt that I was able to be on my own, I decided to take his enticing offer. I ended up in Michigan.
After many experiences and not enjoying the limited travel or making the money that I'd anticipated, I discovered that he and his cohorts were actually crooks. Was I becoming one, too? I got into his room and began going through papers, trying to find out more about him and the company he worked with. As fate would have it, two of his thugs came in, caught me, and took me for a ride. Fortunately, they didn't do any extensive harm to me. They just threw me alongside the road, leaving me unconscious in a ditch that had a little water in it. I am not sure how long I was in the ditch, but later, some people found me and transported me to the hospital. After I was released, I hitchhiked to Happy Camp to live with my uncle and his family as planned when I ran away from home.
A New World ... From the City To the Woods
I desperately needed a job in order to continue supporting my mother and sister. There weren't many jobs available in that small community. The men were hardworking and rugged. Many of them worked in the saw mill or logged the tall timber. They spent their leisure time fishing, hunting, spending time with their family, and some frequented the local bars. There were more bars than stores or churches. About the only place to work besides the mill was the Forest Service, a government organization that managed anything to do with the forests, such as organizing the men fighting fires during the fire season.
Away to the Forest Service station I went. "I want a job," I told the supervisor when he asked me what I was doing there.
"How old are you?" he asked. My actual age was fifteen, but I lied, and I told him that I was seventeen. I looked and acted older, probably due to my childhood.
You see, I was forced to work at the young age of twelve, picking cotton, potatoes, grapefruit, and any other seasonal produce, and in Phoenix, I worked in construction, as well as the restaurant. In construction, I worked side by side with older men, causing me to grow up rapidly and become street smart.
"You are too young," the supervisor at the Forest Service said. "We can't hire you, and besides, we don't need you." That did not put a damper on things for me, for I was accustomed to being aggressive.
Going back to my uncle's home, I made the announcement. "I have a job at the Forest Service."
Jim, my cousin (had been with me when I applied for the job), quickly objected, "Oh, no, you don't have a job. They told you that you were too young!"
I retaliated, "Jim, I am going to work at the Forest Service tomorrow morning!" Turning to my aunt, I asked her to make me a lunch for the next day at work.
The next morning, I got up very early and prepared for my "new job." I looked around the kitchen, but the anticipated lunch was nowhere to be found. Walking the five miles to the Forest Service, I arrived on time at eight o'clock. Going in as if I belonged, I saw a push broom and began sweeping everywhere. The supervisor came in, found me working, and asked, "Why are you here?"
"Well," I replied, "I am here to work."
"I told you—you are too young, and we don't need anyone," he replied.
I said, "Well, sir, I need to work to support my mother and sister, and I am going to work here, because I want to work here. So what else do you have for me to do?"
He mumbled something and then told me to go and clean some areas and things. Not taking "no" for an answer, from that day on, I had a great job as a manual laborer. About a month later I was promoted and was assigned to the crew that fought fires. I worked three seasons for the Forest Service, most of that time was spent fighting fires during fire season. I did anything demanded during a fire and became a smoke jumper. Because of this better job, I was able move out of my uncle's home into a little house of my own.
I did not know anything about God. This was my first example of something in me telling me that this was what was I supposed to do, and I did it. Looking back, this clearly illustrates the biblical principle "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Whatever a person believes, he or she can achieve it. One needs to let faith work, because faith without actions is dead. At that time, I believed that I would work at the Forest Service, and I did.
My First Encounter With Angels
Now that I had reached the magic age of eighteen, I had my driver's license. Did this give me a license to do anything I wanted to? I thought so, and I began going to bars and hanging around with some pretty rough characters.
One dark night in October, to celebrate my eighteenth birthday, I decided to drive from Happy Camp, California, to visit my grandparents and a friend who were living in southern Oregon. Instead of driving several miles to the main highway to go over the Siskiyou Mountains, I took the back logging road, which was seldom traveled because it was only gravel—dusty and dark. I could drive as fast as I wanted to with no traffic—as if the gravel road would allow speed.
I had a very enjoyable time visiting with family and friends. Late in the evening, I left, happily making my way toward home on that same dark, graveled back logging road over the Siskiyou Mountains. I was enjoying my drive, the balmy fall weather, and the radio loudly playing the popular music of the day. Suddenly, I began having difficulties driving. I couldn't seem to focus, I was feeling strangely and getting very, very sleepy. I must have blacked out, losing control of my car, causing it to roll one hundred fifty feet down the steep cliff. The ravine was so steep and dark that the car could not be seen from the road.
Later, an investigation proved that my "friend" put sleeping pills in my coffee, thinking that I would fall asleep soon and would have to stay at the parents' home until the next day. No charges were filed, but it gave me the reason for my accident.
I remember that a little pine tree that was only six inches around—not one of the older, taller trees that are several feet in diameter and are so prolific in those mountains—stopped the rolling car. The next thing I remember, I was lying, one hundred fifty feet higher on the gravel road. How did I get there? My injuries prohibited me from moving, and without ropes or pulleys, it was impossible to climb that steep, rugged terrain. I believe that angels carried me up those one hundred fifty feet. I could not have made it up that steep incline by myself, as I was gasping for air and in a pool of blood. I knew that I was in bad shape and felt that I was going to die. For the first time in my life, I prayed, "Lord, if You let me live, I will serve You."
Isn't that a typical "foxhole" prayer that is usually forgotten after it is answered? My car was later found wrapped around the little six-inch-thick pine tree. It would have taken hours for someone using rope and other ingenious techniques to get me out of the mangled car. Early in the morning, two hunters passing by found me on the gravel road. They cautiously approached me, not knowing if it was a fake situation, an ambush, or who it might be. After assessing the situation, one of the men left to find a phone to call an ambulance for me.
In the hospital, they discovered that my back was broken, my lungs were punctured, and I had a fractured skull. Consequently, I was in a neck brace and a body cast from my neck to my legs for six months. In spite of the difficulties that I endured, I survived.
Shortly before the accident, my sixty-five-year-old grandparents accepted the Lord and became believers. When I left their home that fateful night, they felt compelled to pray for me. Later, as we compared notes, we determined that they prayed at the exact time of my accident. Because of their prayers, I survived and am alive today.
After my injuries were healed, the cast was removed, and I was feeling stronger, I promptly forgot the prayer I prayed on the mountain and fell into my old habit of heavy drinking. As a result, I became an alcoholic. One night, my boss made me a home brew of "white lightning," which is a strong drink with more than 50 percent alcohol. Three days later, I woke up in a cell. It was a padded cell with cushions lining the walls, and I was wearing a straight jacket. My arms were strapped so tightly that I could hardly breathe. I think I was crying a bit, something I would never ordinarily do. A young lady opened the little window in the door. Her gentle hello sounded like the voice of an angel to me. Feebly, I managed a hello, stating, "I need some help. I am afraid."
She brought the sheriff and a doctor to my cell. As I talked with them, they told me why they had put me in the padded cell: I had completely gone out of my mind and was unmanageable. They checked me over and released me to go with my uncle and be in his care.
Later, my uncle and I were talking about my bizarre behavior while under the influence of the "white lightning." He told me that I had torn up the whole emergency room, broken windows, and thrown chairs throughout the room. The total damage was more than seventeen thousand dollars. That was in 1959. Imagine what that would be today.
I was shown the warrant for my arrest and court order for my court appearance. When I did make my court appearance, the judge asked, "How are you going to pay for the damages? If you don't pay, we have to throw you in jail again."
I replied, "I have no money. Whatever you need to do, you need to do." Because I had never been in trouble and had no criminal record, they decided to close the case by imposing an alternative penalty on me. They wanted me to go into the military, so I chose the United States Marine Corps.
All of these things occurred during my first twenty years of life and caused me to become a very angry person. I was already full of hate, and being a marine only fed my anger. I continued drinking in spite of what I had gone through. The more I drank, the meaner and angrier I became. I literally looked forward to the day that war would start, and I could legally kill somebody.
Excerpted from Good Enough by Dr. Harry E. Coffman Copyright © 2011 by Dr. Harry E. Coffman. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Foreword by Dr Benjamin Coffman....................xi
Chapter 1 How I Became a Believer....................1
Chapter 2 What Went Wrong?....................15
Chapter 3 Awake to Righteousness....................23
Chapter 4 The Secret of Righteousness....................29
Chapter 5 Well, What About Sin?....................37
Chapter 6 My First Assignment: Washington DC....................43
Chapter 7 What About the Past?....................51
Chapter 8 Village Life....................60
Chapter 9 Living In the Supernatural....................67
Chapter 10 Let It Rain....................79
Chapter 11 The Sound of Heaven....................88
Chapter 12 Get Your Mind Renewed....................99
Chapter 13 Focus On the Kingdom of God....................108
Chapter 14 Can I Do My Own Thing?....................113
Chapter 15 Do You Really Want Adventure?....................119
Chapter 16 Hang On To the Benefits of Righteousness....................130
Chapter 17 Fruits of Righteousness....................138
Appendix Scriptures on Righteousness....................145