I confess, if I were the author of my story, I might have written a few of the chapters differently. I might have cleaned up some of the rough edges and plot lines. I might have skipped a trauma or two, or three, or a million and seven.
When I was seven or eight years old, I had an encounter with God. I’d been raised in church. I’d heard about him almost my entire life. I would have been able to tell you all about the Bible stories and the gospel. I sang hymns louder than anyone around me (anyone who knows me in person can attest to the fact that I sing louder than most). I knew of him. But that night I MET him.
I remember being surrounded by people in that little country church in Southern Ohio and it being just Jesus and me. I remember him softly speaking to my heart that he had a plan for my life. I remember knowing more than I’ve ever known anything (to this day) that he was real, he loved me, and I am his and he is mine. No matter what I’ve been through since, everything comes back to that one night when he called me his own.
What I’m realizing now, so many years later, is that I’ve spent most of my time trying to live up to the calling I felt that night. Every mistake I’ve made felt like the annihilation of everything for me. Every trauma felt like disqualification. I can’t say my life has been a rose-garden. From a ‘Christian-ese’ perspective, I probably should have been disqualified. I’ve had a baby out of wedlock. I’ve been divorced and remarried. I’ve made some grade-A messes throughout my life. How could he possibly still use me now?
But one thing remains, the redemptive love of God. I’ve never stopped asking him to pick me back up and help me to keep on walking. Sure, many times, I’ve tried to scoop myself up off the floor and fix everything broken in my life. Sure, many times, I’ve whined and cried to the heavens because a lot of my messes weren’t my own doing, and it just didn’t seem fair. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can say that.
Still, he didn’t call me because of my qualifications or my abilities. I wouldn’t have been the right choice. He called me by his mercy, knowing I would mess it all up a thousand times and keep coming back. Maybe the biggest part of my testimony is that through it all and despite of me, I still love him deeply. I feel everything deeply and I’m not afraid to be real. Maybe my weaknesses are part of why he chooses me. If his strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9) then I have spent a lifetime proving him strong. I’m like a weeble-wobble who keeps popping back up ready for battle no matter how many times I’ve been knocked down.
The past few years have been probably the hardest few years of my life. I’ve cried more and, honestly, lost my wobble more, in that season that anytime I can remember. It’s been ROUGH, y’all! But I’ve kept on fighting and getting up every morning, sometimes begrudgingly, lacing up my running shoes, and walking forward. Now, I’m seeing God answer prayers I wasn’t sure he would. I’m seeing him perfect, despite how weak I had been. I’m so incredibly grateful!
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.
I feel like I’d reached the bottom of myself and all the striving and trying to be enough was finally able to give way to a profound and staggering desire for him. Suddenly, I want him to be glorified, not to prove myself worthy of him reaching out to me so many years ago, but because I feel the weight of his glory. I would have never thought I was making the focus about me. I would have denied it if you’d accused me of it. I wasn’t outwardly. I wasn’t making a show or doing good works and ministry to look good to others. I think I was, however, trying to look good to me. I thought I was a bad investment.
I’ve always prayed the Psalm I began this with. It’s been a mantra of mine for years. Yet now, I feel it to my bones!
My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
He has been so good and so faithful to me; I cannot help but tell of his goodness. I yield my life to be a pen in his capable hands. His story is being written on my heart and walked out by my feet. My heart is overflowing.
I know this isn’t the kind of thing I typically write here, but I pray that you who have been patient enough to read this so far, would realize that every step, even the rough and unsteady ones, will bring you closer if you just keep walking towards him. I pray that his love would so permeate your spirit, that you can’t help but write, create, sing, dance, whistle, whittle, play air-guitar, whatever it is that you do . Overflow! Don’t allow the scars of this life to rob you of the beauty he’s writing for you. Just keep walking. Every step is worth it if we are walking towards Jesus. He isn’t going to run away. He’s right there with you always!