From There to Here – Part II
Continued from yesterday…
And so knowing that Jesus loved me was cute and all, like the song, but that in and of itself meant very little in the day-to-day living of my life. The knowledge of it was kinda like applying a band-aid to an amputation; it didn’t do much to heal the gash that was in my soul. I did believe that He loved me, but I wondered why He had not loved me before I was thirteen. My adolescent understanding deduced that He started loving me because I bought what He was selling. First, you drink the Kool-Aid then you get the goods: His affection, His protection, His forgiveness, etc… I bought it, but it didn’t all jive with me. I remember sitting in a youth retreat in Garden City, and we were anonymously turning in questions to our youth pastor to discuss as a group. My question was – Why do bad things happen to good people? I was deeply disturbed by who I thought God might be. In my brain He was punitive and selfish and partial and powerful, and to me that was a pretty scary combination. His love was manifest when He withheld punishment that I deserved, which is true but it isn’t the only manifestation of His love. I had a super-limited understanding of God’s character and that tripped me up for years.
There was an absolute disconnect between what I wrestled with in my spirit and in my heart about God and how I lived. In fact, I honestly remember praying for forgiveness in advance of going out to drink way too much (by the way I do now understand that isn’t how forgiveness works). I showed my fanny for a good eight years before college graduation saved me from myself by removing me from the environment that promoted my destructive behaviors.
Chris – who was not a believer at the time – suggested that we (as a new couple) start attending church regularly because that’s what respectable people did; it was a great way to meet people, and it was the right way to start a work week. God took full advantage of having us for an hour a week and began to till the soil of our hearts for future planting; give that Fella an inch and He’ll take a mile every time.
We added Sunday School to our repertoire when we moved to Flotown, and God just kept drawing us in ever so slightly and slowly – almost imperceptibly. And we were willing to be drawn. In large part because God had surrounded us by people who were like us but who loved Him. They were willing to say, “I need Jesus because I totally screw it up on my own!” and we could identify with that. Chris made a new Acquaintance, and we became inchworms for Christ – inching closer and closer to Him, in very small increments, mind you.
I quit teaching after Carson was born and attended my first women’s Bible study, after all what in the world was I going to do all day? Some of you know that I was born to be a student; I love to be a student. It’s why I became a teacher (because no one would pay me to be a forever student, and teaching was as close as I could get. I still got to be in the classroom, smell books, and use newly sharpened pencils). So, I took seriously my role as a Bible student. If the teacher challenged us to pray in the middle of the night in a headstand (which she did not), that’s what I did. I totally think God was humored by my desire to obey and please.
It was in those Beth Moore Bible studies that she gave me permission to be honest with God; she began to press on my gash and whispered to my soul that He was big enough to handle it. So I put on my big girl panties, and gritted my teeth, and pointed my finger in the air, and asked,