I wonder how often we say things that we don’t really believe. Or, maybe it’s more accurate to put it this way – how often do we say things we don’t KNOW to be true? That’s been the case for me more times than I can count. But, when God reveals a truth to your heart with such depth and tender love as only He can do, you won’t easily forget it.
I’ve grown up saying that God was good and that He loves to bless His children. The difficulty is in understanding what that actually means? Truthfully, I felt like God saved me because I was part of the world that He died for but not because I was special in any way. I guess, deep down, that I considered myself a recipient of love and grace by default. Not to say that I felt unloved, pitied or even that I felt distant from Him. I loved Him, I loved to worship Him, I loved to serve Him, I even felt like there were some moments in my life when I was used by Him.
The problem with not really knowing God’s goodness and love personally is that it allows fear to creep into your heart. Let me just say, fear and I….we have had a long relationship. Fear is paralyzing. It keeps us from the things that God has planned for us and it keeps us from trust and faith. Trusting God is hard when there’s always a kernel of doubt that you matter to Him; but, because He is good He won’t allow us to live in a place of fear. How did He begin the process of setting me free from it? He allowed all hell to break lose.
I’m the first to admit that my “hell” is nothing compared to what many people have gone through and I’m under no delusion that this will be my last difficult season in life, but it was tough. And it seemed to drag on for years. One gut punch after another followed by a heartbreak and a cross to the face ending in a roundhouse kick that sent me flying to the mat and not wanting to fight for anything anymore. If I wouldn’t have killed myself with guilt I could have been tempted to run away, find a shack on a beach somewhere and just start over. I felt like a failure. I felt like I had wasted most of my life. I felt very alone and I was afraid of what I might do.
Then God started to show me that He is good. That He loves me. That He sees me. That every detail is important to Him and that He knows my weaknesses. I’m not sure how he opened my hard heart to even see His hand moving around me but it was clear and it was often. A song, a sentence on the radio or from a friend, a card, a passage in a devotional, a message, a random thought from my children, a movie…..he used just about everything in my life to warn me to stop going in one direction or to encourage me to go in another. There was no doubt that He knew my innermost thoughts and fears and that He was speaking to them. I can’t even express how safe that felt. Even when He asked me to do things that were difficult, they were easier because I knew He understood my struggles. He never condemned or embarrassed me. He just cared for me. And I knew He wanted my good. I knew He cared about my heart. Even if things got worse and suffering continued, it was easier to take the next step because I wasn’t in it alone. I began to understand that His ultimate goal was for my holiness. Even though He cared about my life and my pain, He never promised that tragedy wouldn’t happen, people wouldn’t betray me, relationships wouldn’t fall apart or suffering wouldn’t happen. What He did promise was to walk with me through it all and to allow me to know Him personally as a friend and a Father.
I think satan started to get scared because my deepest fears started to rear their ugly heads. Scary physical issues quickly sent my mind down the road to the death of myself or someone I loved. Issues with my children caused restless nights of worry and fear. You name it, if it terrified me, it came up. But God kept sending little reminders of His love for me. I call them little love letters. And slowly, I began to see that the pain and trials of this life are nothing in comparison to knowing that He loves me, cares for me and wants to have a relationship with me. I’m a child of heaven, not of earth. If my eyes are on earth I get easily distracted and frightened. If my eyes are on Jesus, it all ends with the best hug ever anyway. There’s no need to fear when daddy is on your side and when you know He wins everything in the end.
Corrie Ten Boom is one of my heroes and someone that can speak to pain and suffering. She’s been quoted as saying, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” I’m beginning to think that was my issue all along. I didn’t know Him- I knew of Him. I didn’t believe Him – I believed in Him. I had faith that He was good and loving and trustworthy but I didn’t have faith in who He said I was. His! A child that matters to Him. An individual that He died for. A sinner that He has redeemed. A saint that He wants to use to bless this world with His love. That’s my purpose:To know and love Him and to love others as He does. Along the way there will be blessings and there will be pain. I have no idea what I’ll face but I pray that I will be faithful and that my eyes will never leave Him. I know, now, that His will never leave me and that makes me stronger than I’ve ever been. Psalm 23:6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.