God takes you back, always

God speaks square2Today was my long run day.  I run with my iPod off the first half of the run so I can listen to what the Lord may be speaking to me.  About half way, I turn music on to break up the run.

I didn’t hear anything so I ran in silence enjoying His presence.  When I turned my iPod on, the word REMEMBER flooded my mind with a download of memories.  I knew it was the Lord.

One scene after another passed before my mind’s eye of a time about 20 years ago when I really hated my life.

My marriage was all but shattered.  The only reason Brad and I didn’t divorce is we couldn’t agree to part with our little boy Jake even for shared custody.

We were in heavy debt financially, emotionally and relationally.  We had nothing to give one another.  Jake was our only joy.  We both knew that wasn’t healthy for each other or our son.

I had allowed my past to dominate my life.  It was my identity.  I wallowed in a dark and depressing pit seeing myself as neglected, forgotten, abused, rejected, worthless, useless, unintelligent, incapable, ashamed, guilty, and hopeless.  I was on anti-depressants (but still depressed!) and told I would be for the rest of my life.  I was a pathetic mess.  Anything we tried didn’t help; it all just heaped up in a pile of “tried this”, “tried that”, “NOTHING WORKS!”.  It was a dark and painful time.

The scenes flashed by, as another song started; Jeremy Camp’s “I’ll Take You Back”.

You’ll take me back always
And even when my fight is over…
You’ll take me back always
And even when my pain is coming through

You’ll take me back always.

I had known who the Lord was.  I had “asked” Him into my heart years before.  But (a VERY BIG BUT) I had not walked with Him.

I was so angry at Him.  How could He let so many bad things happen?  Why hadn’t He intervened?  Where was He when I was rejected and left alone?  What kind of a God let’s His children suffer?

I hated Him. (cringe!)

One day I was so tired of fighting just to breathe the breath of life.  I resented seeing Jesus answer prayers for others around me.  He even answered some of our “courtesy” prayers as we dabbled in prayer with new “church” friends.  (We didn’t dare share what was really going on in our lives.  We were only going for our son’s sake after he started asking “God questions” following a recent death in the family.  A new neighbor invited us to church so we tried it for Jake.)

I took a good at our lives and saw no life except Jake asking all these “God” questions.  How dare God answer our little prayers when we were suffocating, even hemorrhaging on the inside!

I locked myself in the bedroom, flung my fists in the air and started yelling at God.  “Why don’t YOU just do something with my life, my marriage?  I don’t want it!!  I can’t leave it.   I’ve screwed it up so bad – just TAKE IT!!  But You know what?!  I don’t think You can, cause You haven’t done a !#%@* thing for it!!”  I fumed on.   I remember feeling like my blood was boiling.  I was so mad, so hating God and so ALONE.  But for the first time, I was truly addressing Him stripped down to who I really was.  I wanted to punch Him and kick Him.  Why was He so invisible?!  “I can’t even see You!!”, I ranted and wept until I was empty.

In that moment, that silence, I felt His presence.  “I’m here.  Follow me.”  It wasn’t audible, not really even words, but it was REAL; as real as my raw emptiness.  He was present.  He spoke to me.  He didn’t offer anything but HIM and an invitation to follow.

You satisfy this cry
Of what I’m looking for
And I take all I can
And lay it down
Before the throne of endless grace, now
That radiates what’s true

I knew then my life would never be the same.  My history didn’t change, my problems didn’t suddenly disappear.  But each day He was there inviting me to see life from His perspective, following His lead in every matter that previously perplexed me.

It was difficult.  He had me take steps I didn’t want to take.  He was there, always there.

At first, when I took steps I would turn to Him expecting to be done; finished and ready for a reward.  He only led me to take yet another step the next day.

Over the course of about 2 years I learned to live following Jesus on a daily basis in the smallest tasks (that seemed really big).  It was difficult, but he WAS THERE WITH ME.  My marriage was restored.  My identity was no longer what I came from, but who I live for.  I am a follower of Christ.

The song continued:

I can only speak
With a grateful heart
As I’m pierced by this gift
Of your love
I will always bring an offering
I can never thank you enough.

Even in my despicable state, Jesus rescued me from the pit of hopelessness. He walked me THROUGH.  He showed me compassion and taught me grace.  He showed me that it’s not enough to be free from the past or circumstances; rather, it is enough to be WITH Him.

When we are living with Him our focus becomes like His and our perspective changes from self to caring more for others.  When that happened, my life truly began to change.  What an immeasurable gift.

Like many, I still have so much to learn about putting others before ourselves, but every time we fall, Christ is there picking us up, showing us grace and teaching us to extend it to others.

I am not proud to tell of the way I approached God so many years back, but I’m compelled to share it.  In remembering, I am reminded that He is so faithful to meet us at our point of need when we genuinely seek Him out, ready to turn our will over to Him.