"For although I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is." Colossians 2:5
When I was a teenager, 15, this verse saved my life. I was in the midst of some life changing events, and had some major choices to make. On that path, on that journey, I met God. I never met him in the physical sense, but I met him, I rediscovered the love within my heart, that was him. I was given my first bible at age 12 (which I still have). I read that bible, every day, eager for the knowledge, the joy, Whom I now know as GOD. I read and reread to understand, which of course at age 12-15, took a lot. I started attending a youth group in high school (to be honest Church always has bored me) I never felt at "home" in a church. I felt at home in a youth group, with people my age, suffering some of the same of lifes tragedies, as I was. I felt less alone and more understood without the confines of a solitude church service.
One night, mid January, 1991, as I lay in my bed talking with God, I discovered his voice within me. This voice was not of yours or mine, it was in the form of verses, verses from the bible - how do I know these verses came from God? how do I know it wasn't just my mind randomly thinking of verses? Because god spoke to me that night. In a time of dire need, in a time of needing something much more powerful than anyone on earth could provide, he provided. Before this, as I would lay down at night, I learned to keep a pencil and paper at my headboard, in order to write the messages God was sending me, in the form of verses from my bible. Most of the time, if it were late, I would write them down, and then look them up in the morning.
One night, at the height of my discovery, my understanding that GOD sooo loved his children, he gave his only begotten son, to pay the consequences of the sins of his children he created, in order that they be spared, and loved in such a perfect love, that no words can quite describe it, in it's deserved way.
As I lay there wrapping my head around this, wondering if this were true, then why all my pain..?? How can I believe in such a perfect love when at such a young age, I lived thru soo much pain. Surely I had not sinned enough at that point in my life to deserve so much struggle? I was always told and retold that God will never give you more than what you can handle... I believed this but really believed I must be one strong kid, because he was testing my strength continuously. I wonder even still, who came up with that line, but more on that later..
So this night, this night I lay there, I spoke to God, praying, asking for guidance, and the verse that instantly came to me was Colossians 2:5. On this night, I decided to look at that verse immediately, so I took my bible from my headboard and quickly looked up his verse. What was God telling me.. I needed this answer..I needed to know.
I was not prepared for what was about to happen. First of all let me tell you I was not brought up in a church going home. The only two times in my life I remember going to church as a family was at my brothers funeral ( I was 14) and then again the Easter following his funeral. It's not to say my parents didn't have their own relationship with God, I am quite sure my mother did, but it was never crammed down our throats or forced upon us. A relationship with God is an Immensly personal thing, and can not be forced, but fed, nurtured and built on bonds that are within ones self. I am lucky to have had parents that let me find GOD on my own. Now, it has much more meaning in my life.
On that evening, as I read the words of the verse that was spoken thru my heart, my heart was transformed. my soul was released from the pain it had been suffering, my heart felt whole and soo full of love that I was jumping on my bed that night (while everyone in my house slept) I was celebrating my newfound relationship with God, my faith in his love for me, and the new comfort and peace that he provided me.
This is not a story many people know. I have never been a "bible thumper" nor "preachy" to any, however, what I did have, what my heart flourished in was this love so unconditional, so fulfilling, that i did share with few of my friends...I wanted them to know my excitement and feel that same love. Come to find out, I was behind the curve, because for those friends I wanted to share this with, I discovered in them, what I had just found myself. I shared, they shared and it only built a stronger bond than what I had before.
I have never considered myself a Religious person, which, I am happy for now. I did try to attend church regularly, but soon discovered that church was just a front for those to get in their Sunday best, and put on a facade to the outside that they lived this holy life only to return to their normal activities within hours of the service. I felt it was hypocritical at best and was doing a major disservice to GOD and his love for us. For that reason, my relationship has stayed private, and is seldom shared in the company of a church service.
I have faltared and hurt and realize that I was not always honorable to my relationship with God, in that there were times as I got older that I did not trust him with my heart, with my pain, and therefore tried to go it alone, only feeling more pain and sorrow later. I know that now, because in those moments when I realized I couldn't do it on my own, GOD was always there, waiting for me to ask for his help, and help he would provide. He may not have answered questions I may have had, but he would always wrap me in the warmth of his arms and provide a comfort that warmed my heart and eased my pain. His help came in the form of an eased pain, and sometimes even a nagging desire deep within, a nagging need to attend church. Twice, this has happened to me in the last ten years. Each of those times, was at a time I soo needed a bigger message, as always, he provided.
In early 2000, I was struggling thru a (yet again) rocky marriage, I was raising three kids, as an E5, and struggling mentally, emotionally and physical in finding happiness, and the answers i soo needed help with. I had this overwhelming urge to attend church. I wasn't a church goer, and therefore didn't even know which church I shuld attend.. but GOD led me, right where he needed me. This service started out with a song that started my interest and began my journey to GOD when i was only 12. This song, as it started, reminded me of the love I had for GOD, and the trust I gave to him, from the beginning. Does he still fell the Nails is the name of it... And I knew, as this song started, this was GODs way of reeling me back to him, with a message so profound during the service, thru the song, that I knew..I knew this was him, reminding me, he has always been there....I just didn't have my heart opened to him enough, to hear him, or feel him, at the times I thought he had abandoned me.
That was my first time. The second time was just last year after moving to CA. I was dealing with some major changes, and some major heartbreak, and so badly needed GOD to help me, more than I thought he was. Everyday, on my way from work, I would see a big church off the side of the interstate. I felt a slight pulling, but not enough to attend... Just enough to say "I should go.." the following week, I received a post card in the mail, this was an invitation to attend a new church, and yes, it was this same church, this very church I would see, but now, I now felt like I had an invite from GOD. I went the following Sunday to this church, to receive the message that I know was meant for me.. It was about the unknowns, the fear, of change... Again, GOD was right on target, and I began to feel better and remember that he is always watching and always present..
As we get busy with life it seems, the only time we remember to talk to GOD is when we need him. I am guilty of this too. Every relationship we have takes effort, not necessarily a bad, hard effort, but think of it as UPKEEP. It is no different with GOD. although our God forgives us, that most of us get too busy in our daily life to give him a second thought, except for when there is something we think he can help with...we pray for strength, for peace, for healing, we ask GOD why, but do we ever take the time to just say Thank You...
I have been on yet another journey, that has strengthened my relationship, and reminded me of what I have. I was sent a book, The Shack, which is an accurate depiction of how we stereotype what we believe GOD should look like, act like, as well as how we view it as s fault when something bad happens, I won't spoil the book, but suffice it to say, I get it. I don't understand everything, but I get it, I understand much more, and feel such an overwhelming gratitude to (1) GOD and (2) George for sending me this, at a time I soo truly needed it. I followed up this book, with a movie called A Perfect Stranger & Another Perfect Stranger, which was a great visual to the book, delivering the same message.
After reading this book, and watching these movies, it makes me feel like l found GOD, again, today, only this time, with a much better understanding, a clearer view of my expectations and his, and I guarantee mine, were more than his.. His expectation of me, to love him, to trust him, and to let him live inside me. That is it. The rest will happen as it should, so long as I love him and allow him to love me with an unconditional love so powerful, that only GOD can give it.