I told you last time I would post at least two blog posts about my walk with God. Here’s number two. I hope my journey inspires you to want to know God in a deeper way, to trust Him even when it seem illogical to do so, and to fall in love with a hero.
I grew up in a home with a pastor and Sunday school teacher. We will call them papa W and mama J. Two people who shared love with every person they met. Looking back, our home was filled with love and joy. I don’t recall an unhappy moment. Though they shared the good news with me, it wasn’t until I was 7 years old that I encountered Jesus. It was Easter and my family decided to watch the Easter movie. As a 7-year-old I was simply excited to spend time with parents. I had no idea my life was about to change. There’s this point in the film where Jesus is about to go to the cross. He’s beaten, mocked, and though not as graphic as recent films, it touched my heart. “He did that for me,” were the words that came out of my mouth. And I wept. I had met my hero, Jesus. He was willing to take on the sins of the world so I could have eternal life. I knew at seven; I wasn’t sin free. I did not always do what was right. I was a good kid, but I knew I wasn’t perfect, not like God. Here was my hero taking nails for me. He took my punishment so I wouldn’t have to. He was perfect for me and that was a good deal.
Well, a year later my biological mom came to take me with her. We’ll call her mama M. I had met her before. I knew who she was. However, I never thought in a million years I would have to leave my parents and go with her. She had tried for years to get me back and this time she won. The day I left mama J and papa W was a day I will never forget. Seeing my dad cry and the look of devastation on his face is still in my memory. I still recall looking through the back window of the car, my heart in a million pieces. As we drove away from the farm-house I could only think, “What will life be like now?”
Mama M is a good woman. So, please don’t judge her. She and my biological father were married. When she was 8 months pregnant with me, he bailed. He decided he didn’t want to be married or have children. He left her. Papa W offered to adopt me to help out and she could have me back when she finished college and was able to rebound.
As a child you’re looking for a hero. I thought my hero had bailed. Where was God? Where was this loving God? I’d lost a stable home with two parents? I had no idea where my biological father was or why he’d abandon a pregnant woman and his child. I begin to grow angry with God. Yep, angry. Outwardly, I was the perfect kid. I did what I was told. I got great grades in school. However, inside my heart grew more and more cold.
Mama M and I were as different as night and day. She’s not emotional. She’s extremely logical. She rarely shows weakness. She’s tough. I was a marshmallow. I learned from her not to cry, to be strong. I learned to be better than everyone else at school work because I needed to show the world what I was made of. I learned from Mama M to strive to be the best. So, I put those things on God too. God must have wanted me to suck it up and deal with life. God must have demanded perfection, and I needed to shape up. The truth is, God required none of those things. Since I believed He did, I became even more angry with Him. Why? I could not be perfect. Every time I tried and strived, I failed. He became cold, unfeeling, and stern in my eyes. I still refused to turn away from Him completely, as hell didn’t sound enticing. But He wasn’t my hero. I believed a lie that I needed to be good in order to receive God’s approval since that is what I needed to do for certain people in my life. It’s a lie that is crippling and damaging. God’s love is freely given. We don’t earn His favor. It’s a gift. Jesus was perfect for us so we rely on His righteousness and not our own.
So, when did God come to the rescue and become my champion again? It started with a boy. I told you last post I had to ditch him due to his verbal abuse. Well, he didn’t start out that way. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been with him. At first he was charming, loving, and sweet. Awe, until he wasn’t. He wanted to get married and ride off into the sunset. I was still working on two engineering degrees at the time and the workload had me swamped. Getting married wasn’t even in my mind. He kept insisting it was the right path. So, I prayed. Yes. I got down on my knees in my room and asked God (who I was still angry with) if I should marry this man. Funny thing happened. Our relationship went from okay to awful. The more I prayed, the worse things were. Hmm….that’s not good. I kept praying because I needed an answer. Feel free to laugh. One day in deep prayer (means longer than 2 minutes), I cried out to God, “Should I marry him?” And I heard a voice with my natural ears say, “NO!” I at first thought I was losing my mind. I had never heard God speak. At the time I thought, “God only spoke to people in the Bible.” He spoke to priests and holy people. He wasn’t talking to me. Maybe it wasn’t God, I resolved. But it was. Sometimes God speaks to us and other times He speaks through our circumstances. He saved me from hitching my life to someone who was not good for me. I should have seen with my own eyes, but He made sure I knew the answer was no.
Since then He’s saved my life a few times; from allergic reactions to medication during a routine surgery which almost killed me, to changing flights prior to September 11 (I was supposed to be leaving for Florida that day and changed my flight to leave days earlier. For some reason I couldn’t book the flight for the 11th), to being trapped in a car under water and getting out even when 911 didn’t show up. He (my hero) kept stepping in to save my life. Some could call the incidents flukes or luck, but I know they were God. I’ve had too many moments where my life was spared. I’ve seen Him do amazing things through prayer. Even when I was angry with Him, He still loved me and continued to pursue my heart. When I was in college and quite broke and hungry, He’d send random people to give me money or food. He became my best friend. When I had no real friends, God was there for me. Gosh, my heart’s been through the ringer but God’s always been there. He never left my side. He heals. He saves. He delivers. Jesus is my hero.
Looking back as a child I could have simply believed God was love and experienced His love. I could have rested in my identity as His child. I had no grid for what that meant, so I took the long road. I learned more by experience. Being angry with Him was not beneficial for me, however He didn’t seem offended by my misunderstanding of who He was. He didn’t send His wrath down to teach me a lesson. God loved me right where I was. He didn’t condemn. He extended grace, love, and mercy. He was loving me all along, I just couldn’t always see it. I was blinded by pain and hurt. Neither of those things kept Him from pursuing my heart.
So, my friends. As you embark on this journey with me to know His heart, I hope and pray you dive in deeper with Him. If you’re angry with Him or don’t understand Him, talk to Him. It may seem like you are talking to the air, but you’re not. He’s listening. Keep talking. Keep seeking Him. He will speak to you. He will answer. My prayer is that He reveals His great love for you in ways that you’ve never imagined. God loves you. He is for you. He is not intimidated by your anger, sin, or failings. He is merciful, kind, compassionate, loving, forgiving, and your biggest advocate. Thanks for reading my longest blog post ever. You’re in my thoughts, in my heart, and forever in my prayers…
You are deeply loved!