This past weekend our church kicked off a study written by Henry Blackaby called “Experiencing God” with a weekend of sessions, to be followed by a 12 week church-wide study of the book. (I promise my whole post won’t be this dry, just trying to sketch out the what’s what for ya.) I did this course as a junior in high school many moons ago, but I’m looking forward to revisiting the truths it has to offer.
At one of the sessions the group leader asked us to write a letter to God expressing our gratitude for salvation and to ask for a deeper and more intimate walk with Him in the coming days. After sitting there twiddling my thumbs a little…I mean, it can be an overwhelming task to write out a letter to the creator of the universe…I decided to go back to that first time I truly heard His voice calling me.
I have always been raised in church, so as a young child (I’m talking 6-7 years old), I had an understanding of who God was and of His desire to have a personal relationship with me.
One winter afternoon I arrived home with my family, and although we made it through the first back door (into the washroom I think?), we were locked out of the ‘second’ back door. With what can only be described as the innocence of a child (because I have no doubt that had this happened as an adult I would have been too busy problem-solving or fretting or complaining to someone on the other end of my cell-phone) I sat down nearby and started to pray.
I can so clearly remember sitting there and simply asking God to open the door to the house…without doubts that it was too small of a prayer, or that I had no right to ask for something so seemingly insignificant, or that He wouldn’t respond. I just…asked.
And it was in that next moment that God spoke to my heart. I heard Him, as clearly as I’ve ever heard anyone speak to me before or since, ask “Heather, would you open the door of your heart to me?”
Without hesitation, I said “Yes!”…and the instant I did the back door popped open. I’m pretty sure I started crying immediately (once a cry-baby always a cry-baby I guess), and went inside to talk with my mom about the decision I’d just made. I understood fully that I was a sinner, that my sin separated me from Christ, and that only by accepting His gift of forgiveness could I have eternal life and a love relationship with God.
God responded to the faith of a child that day, and I to him.
I feel overwhelmed with gratitude and am so utterly humbled when I think of the gift I was given that day…thank you Jesus for your sacrifice, thank you Lord for knocking on the door of my heart that day, thank you Holy Spirit for coming to live and walk with me daily.
And yet, I also feel the distinct and strong desire to ask, no beg, for forgiveness.
You see, the next realization I had was that I entered into this personal relationship with my Savior TWENTY YEARS AGO.
I certainly don’t feel…or act…or think…like a person who has been redeemed for 2 DECADES.
Usually I act more like:
*A spiritual newborn…wanting the Bible spoon fed to me by others rather than picking up a fork and digging into it myself
*A screaming toddler…upset at how “unfair” life’s situations feel to me, wanting things to go my way and to feel nothing but self-gratification
*A sensitive child…crying for God to “make it all better” and never wanting to feel any discomfort or pain
*A loud-mouthed tween…who speaks without thought of my opinion, often forgetting to pause and weigh it against God’s word
*A rebellious teenager…who does what I want, when I want…even when I know it’s wrong or not God’s plan for me
*A care-free young adult…with no urgency, who floats through my days with worries, but none that are eternal or lasting
*A stressed-out grown-up…who has come to depend on myself more than on my God, who frets instead of prays, who plans instead of seeks
So with all that being said, I guess my prayer is evolving into something like this. Lord, help me to sit next to you on the front porch…in rocking chairs perhaps…and come to you with my every thought, question, worry, wonder, and move. I want to know you as a close friend, one who I have walked through many seasons of life with, one I never stop desiring to spend time with and learn more about. Speak to me Lord, lead me through the uncomfortable process of aligning myself more closely with you…that I might join you in the work you are doing. Give me the wisdom and direction and self-control (or loss of self) needed to “act my age.” In the most precious and powerful name of my Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Lofty expectations for a church bible study?
Not for my God.
Amen and amen.
KEEP CALM & EXPERIENCE GOD!