My journey towards an unpredictable God

Today, my heart was drawn to a verse (Philippians 3:7-9). Paul expressed what I wanted: to know God, to understand the truth about life, to be purposeful. Paul seemed to be saying, “Everything else is worthless to me in comparison to the great treasure of being able to know God completely and deeply.”
I clung to that verse.
My faith meant more to me than anything else. I prayed, God, I want to make this commitment to you: that the most important thing to me in the world is to know you and love you. So, though, I have never lost much in my life and I don’t truly know what it means to give up every thing. I want to have a heart that would be willing to do that. I commit my life anew into your hands and ask you to show me what this means.
I was convinced that everything I wanted was essential to my happiness; those things that I thought I needed or deserved in order to be happy, fulfilled, joyful, and complete. I was grasping at everything the world had to offer to give me ultimate joy. Not realizing it, I had build values in my heart and a foundation for a kingdom that was pretty much dependent on this world and on people rather than on God.
I thought having a significant other would make me feel loved and lovable; a career as a teacher would give me worth and value; friends and family would gratify my need to be liked and appreciated. I was reaching for all things I thought would bring me joy instead of reaching for the true source of joy – God Himself.
Pslam 16:11 says, “In your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand there are pleasures forever.” I needed to reach for the One who created joy in order that I might be truly fulfilled and at peace.
Yet even in my young, naive state, from that moment, I believed that God very gently took me at my word. He knew that I was clinging to so many things tightly, not recongizing  them as rubbish, and he patiently opened my eyes and heart to the truth.
The journey to find genuine treasure of knowing God had led over a rough and difficult road of relinquishing my “rights” and clinging to God’s desires. MY hands have gripped hard at times, when I wasn’t sure if I could trust God was in control and wanted what was best for me. At times, I would throw tantrums when I didn’t feel that God heard and answers my demands of fulfillment.
What I have found, though, is that God is not threatened or moved by my tantrums. He knows what I really need, and he, like any good parent, is willing to bear with my accusations of him, knowing that ultimately his way will bring freedom and deep satisfying joy. He knows that my heart is tuned to him and if I love him, after whining against his discipline and after resisting him, he will yield in my life the result of a mature character and divine fruit.
It simply takes opening my hands to hold God’s hand so he can train and grow me.


How it all started

I had a compelling ache to belong that pushed me to search, to meet a longing deep inside for more. I sat in church, surrounded by a sense of something more.

The church embraced me and swept me into their circle, where I met loving, inclusive people. Everyone told me that they would pray for me, and made me feel like I belonged. Like I mattered.

Slowly, the pieces were coming together.

Every Sunday after the sermon, the pastor always invited us to “come forward” to “receive Christ.” Thinking to myself, raising my hand seemed mortifying.

Nevertheless, I was intrigued, leaning in every week to listen and soak up everything I heard. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to do something. A guest preacher gave what I’d learned was called “the invitation,” and I felt compelled to respond. With my legs trembling so badly they could barely hold up, I “came forward.”

I’m still not sure if I really knew what I was doing. Nothing magical happened, no fireworks or grand revelations. I don’t remember repenting of sins or even realizing I was a sinner. And yet, little by little, words about “redemption” and being “born again” had begun to penetrate. The message of the cross sank deep, a welcome relief to my striving for acceptance. That started me on a journey to know more, to know this One I now called my Savior. To be one of His followers. To follow His rules.

And so I set out to learn.

I’d signed up to follow Christ after hearing the emphatic promise that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” A wonderful plan, a wonderful life. All I had to do was to do what was right, avoid the bad stuff. Then, God would make sure everything else fell nearly into line.

For most of my life, fear had dogged me. Fear of messing up socially had kept me shy and reserved, afraid to reveal too much of myself lest people reject me. Fear of hurting myself prevented me from conquering the ski slopes or pushing myself harder. Fear of failure kept me from trying things, risking, daring, doing the unconventional.

Every week, the preacher opened his Bible and taught about life in the Kingdom, how it was different and how we were different and how Jesus was the One who made all the difference.

For the first time, it all made sense.

I loved my new life as a Christian, and I worked hard to get it “right.” To be disciplined. Committed. It didn’t take long for my life to begin to change in earnest.

I felt pretty good about myself, secure in my world. I was learning and growing and getting it right. I knew my friends loved me and so did my parents, my family.

Surrounded by a sense of acceptance and security and the rightness of life, I inched out of my shell and grew into the woman God intended me to be — or so I thought.

Something bagged uncomfortably down deep, making my days feel endless and my life seemed like less than what I’d hoped for.

What was wrong with me? Shouldn’t I be happier? I was disappointed. I thought living my dream would mean more. More happiness, more restfulness, and at least a little more of that elusive thing every women wants: more satisfaction. Instead, I felt more and more empty.

For a long time, I pushed aside these thoughts the moment they crowded to the surface. Maybe if I just tried harder, got up earlier, regain all of my focus on something far more important, then maybe I’d feel it — this elusive thing I longed for.

I wasn’t happy. And I knew it.

For a year, I’d been mentored by a women. Each week she’d spent some time with me, opening my eyes to treasures she’d discovered in her daily reading of scriptures. The lessons she shared with me made the stories come alive. Each week I left in awe of the beauty that made her glow. I wanted to be like her. I wanted what she had.

One day, she came into the session wiping tears from her cheeks. When I wondered why, she let me know that her tears were for own frailties. She’d disappointed herself, done something or said something she knew wasn’t right — sinned. Her heartfelt confession made me take a long look at my own life.

And so I began to do the only I knew to do — I prayed. Every day I asked God to do something, anything to change my heart. I prayed when I woke up, while shopping, while cooking. I didn’t pray once or even twice. I prayed every chance I got, as if by begging God, I’d get Him to hear me and He’d have to give me what I craved.

I needed more. I wanted more. I had to have more.

God knew I would need all of Him to face the days ahead. The journey that lay ahead of me was going to be more arduous than all my rule-abiding good-girl-ness would be able to handle. I would face dark days, days of discovering that I was not as good as I’d thought, that my facade wouldn’t hold up under the pressures of life gone wrong, that a desperately “bad” girl lurked in my soul. That I was someone who didn’t know her true colors until she didn’t get in her way.

I was about to embark on a journey of having the worst about myself and finding God in the rubble. In that place of desperation, I would discover that what God wanted more than all of my exhausting efforts to be good was me, just as I am.

The real me.

My world

I live in a world of silence. Surrounded by sound, I hear nothing.
Not a chirp or a rustle in the wind. A child’s whisper is lost to me. When her dimpled fingers pull me near, eyes twinkling, to share that secret with me alone — it is muzzled by silence.
I feel the emptiness of not hearing the tinkle of rain on the roof or the thrum of hummingbird’s hovering. I miss even that frightful bass of a spring storm booming thunderous power across the skies outside my window; such silent impotence brings a blandness even to nature’s majesty.
The quiet of my world throbs with sounds I cannot hear — those sounds that no longer summon, warn, delight, or soothe me.
Because I am deaf. Completely, irrevocably, incurably deaf.
This is my story of losing my hearing of nearly losing my faith, of coming precariously close to losing all I hold dear in the process.
And it is a story of how God picked me up out of the pit I so heedlessly dug myself into, brushed away the filth of my faithfulness, and set my feet on solid rock.
On Jesus Himself.
Mine is not a pretty story. I wish it were.
I wish I could tell you my faith held me strong in the storms of life. That all the years of discipline and doing right stood me in good stead when faced with difficulty. I wish you could be proud of the way I handled hardship, that you could follow my sterling example so that you, too, could soar when hard things happen.
But that would be a lie, and I’ve lived enough of those.
Mine is a story, instead of my complete and utter failure and of God’s relentless faithfulness in spite of me. It is a story of pursuit, of God going after me, of seeing glimpses of beauty in the midst of ugliness, of wanting more, of longing. Of wishing for what I did not have.
Mine is a story of learning to listen in the silence. Of figuring out how God speaks and how to hear Him better, clearer, nearer.
I wrote this story and open up all the ugliness of my hidden self with the wildest hope that the One who rescued me, the One whose voice I have learned to cherish, will speak to you. And I pray as I write that you will listen.
For I have learned that He speaks in the silence.