Today 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.  I rounded a corner passing this beautiful statue; the face of which looked like look one remembering days gone by.sbstatuemar2014 - Copy

As I turned on my iPod, the words “Do you 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 in which I really hated my life about 20 years ago.

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 antidepressants (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 such a dark and painful time.

The scenes flashed in my mind as I ran.  Another song started; Jeremy Camp’s “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.

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 with the church people.  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.)

It was another miserable day.  I looked around me and saw no life except in Jake -and he was asking all these “God” questions.  How dare God answer our little prayers when we were suffocating, even hemorrhaging inside!

I didn’t get on my knees. 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 maybe ever, 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 absolutely 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.  Nothing in my life changed.  But each day I sought to go about seeing life WITH Him; 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.

I remember too, that 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 each 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 it was different than the past.  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.

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 to be free 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.

I still have so much to learn about caring for others above myself, but the every time I fall, Christ is there picking me up, showing me grace and teaching me to extend it to others.

There’s more to this story, and I can’t wait to share more as it all comes together in my book.  Most importantly, remember, God will always take you back!

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, for He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-7