This heart is prone to wander (as the old hymn goes) and I still trip on selfishness in my days.
At least I am on a path. A path of purpose.
The path may not be straight, to be sure, Jesus has led me and has been my ultimate guide. He has helped me when the darkness was just too thick to see. Even more, when the bright lights of self have threatened to blind me of His love. God’s Word and Spirit, those inner promptings, convictions and longings have directed me. But it is the “fleshy kind” of God’s grace and love in which He has shown me how to do this thing called life. People.
Our stories. Why do we share? I think it is because we care about each other and we want others to care for us, as well. Our stories collectively help each other. We can look up and out from ourselves and possibly see. See that we aren’t the only ones.
We are not meant to wander this life alone.
Even though I am on a good path now, there were many years where I pushed aside God’s spirit and any mentors in my path.
My story with God, of course, starts at the beginning. But we won’t start there…the stars being hung, green being called up from the muck, and man taking his very breath from the nostrils of God. We will start with the heart of God coming down to a preteen girl.
When I first heard of the salvation offered to me through Jesus Christ, I was in eighth grade at a church camp. I took a long walk down a short aisle crowded with tear filled eyes of impressionable kids. I spoke with my mouth and believed in my heart that Jesus was indeed God and the savior of the world. I had seen Jesus in the lives of the counselors at the camp and longed for what they had. Jesus seemed to glow through their clothes and touch me with love. I received the gift and was giddy about it.
After camp, I went back to a home filled with love, provisions, wonderful memories and traditions. My childhood, I now know, was better than most. So many people loved and cared for me. In the midst of this, there was talk of God and there was a bible, but I don’t really remember opening it much or talking about it outside of Sunday. In no way is this to put guilt on those who were around me. You can’t give what you haven’t received There wasn’t a rich tradition of bible study or church attendance from either set of grandparents, but there was a tradition of belief.
I know that God heard me and saw me that spirit filled day at camp. He saw my desire, but He knew I didn’t know what I was doing…but I thought I did. He knew that I would try to impress Him. That I would default to the human heart and try to get into heaven with my merits. He knew.
As I moved through the teenage years, I found I wasn’t as good as I had thought and I started to justify my actions with the bad theology. The world gave and I received from TV, radio and popularity contests. After many years of thinking I was better than most….I started to see my sin for what it really was…dirt. However, I started to see myself as dirty, too.
I had failed God.
It crushed me when I saw the sin in my life. I was no better than those who didn’t profess Christ at all. So, why try pretending? There really wasn’t any need to try to put on that clean and shiny face any longer. I deserved the mess I was in and I was going to have to live in it.
Living in the dirt and mess wasn’t fun, to say the least. I finally came to a breaking point. I had been living a life full of gods….and none of them deserved the worship I was so freely giving. My thoughts were confused and filled with anxiety. I felt trapped in a dysfunctional life.
Relationally. Financially. Mentally. Spiritually.
I was at a breaking point.
I couldn’t do it any longer. Could I really do anything for myself? I had already tried that…
No. It wasn’t me, it was God. God reached out to me yet again. He showed up and asked me, “How is it going? Trying to be good? Trying to earn My favor? Trying to clean up the dirty messes? Trying to fix all the broken hearts? Trying to live without the nourishment of the Bread of Life?” I knew right away, I was failing. I really couldn’t do this…even though I thought I could. So – I cried out to Him, “Please take this!! I don’t want it!! The burden and the cost are too much for me!! PLEASE, GOD!!”
The moments were probably a normal short amount of time in what followed a mid night dream….but these moments have held eternity for me.
The dream helped me to see the depths of the sin in my heart. God showed me that I was far from Him and His will for my life. When I awoke, I recognized my sin for what is was…filth. I acknowledged that I couldn’t do this life without God’s leadership and I was going to have to submit myself under His authority. I called out for His salvation and He answered. I physically felt the Holy Spirit wash me clean of the scum of my sin. The weight of my past and the worry of my future no longer sat on my shoulders.
I was lighter.
I cannot say that from that point, I no longer made mistakes, but I have been willing to learn and ask God to help me make better decisions. I no longer desire to worship other gods of money, status, relationships, popularity or self. I have to daily decide to do what doesn’t come natural and follow a different path. There are costs and it isn’t always easy but receiving the Bread of Life through God’s word is truly the only thing that has nourished my life back to health. It daily gives me strength and encouragement.
He is able to be my spiritual mentor and He brings others along who know these dusty roads better than myself. I pray that you will also be led by Jesus and the other sojourners that are connected to the power and love of God. We need each other!
Would you share your story? I would love to hear.
Above all, know that you have never been and never will be alone.