I vividly remember the day I got saved. Unlike many, I got saved in church. I’m not talking about walking to the front and mindlessly repeating a prayer although I did those things. I’m talking about being changed and leaving that place knowing that I was very different than I had been when I entered.
I remember the drawing of the Holy Spirit as He reasoned with me about the state of my heart. I’ve had people tell me that because I didn’t weep and wail over all of my sin, I wasn’t truly saved. But Andrew Murray explained in his book Abide in Christ, the many ways people come to God. I had always been a good girl. I was obedient to my parents and a good student. I had a “bent” towards God and always was curious and desirous of the Christian life so I lived as well as I knew to live and hoped that it would please Him. For most people their idea of who God is and how He operates comes from the relationship they had with their own Fathers and I was not different.
My father is a good man. He worked hard. He provided for us well. He sacrificed to provide all that he did and we always felt cared for and loved. When he would have rather sat and enjoyed the porch swing, he walked around the neighborhood with me as I chatted and eventually grew tired and ended up on his shoulders for the trip home. When he would have rather watched football, instead he played football with us in the yard. He planned vacations for us every summer and spared no expense to insure that we had a good time, often working long hours of overtime to pay for them. He was always willing to play a game or help with a school project. If we showed an interest or ability in something, he gladly paid for lessons…..music lessons, art lessons, and classes. He and my mother picked me up after school everyday so that I could be on the track and basketball team. They were present at every meet and game as well. Even when I went to college, they never missed a home game.
My father, as most Dads, also had a temper. What seemed to me, as a young girl, a rather explosive one. I feared my father. He wasn’t abusive, he just got really angry and it was frightening to me. I treaded lightly around him and when I forgot to, I usually experienced some harsh words or punishment. I hated to disappoint him because I loved him and respected his authority. Because of this, I was probably spared many a hardship because I feared what the consequences might be if I did something wrong but I always was a little reserved in my emotions around him. I still am even though he has mellowed a whole bunch as he has aged. My Dad is also smart and has learned a lot of things through trial and error and self teaching. So naturally when it came to helping us kids learn something, he always felt that he knew best and that his way was best. I understand now that he was just trying to help us not have to reinvent the wheel, but at the time I just never felt as if I measured up. It seemed that no matter what I did, it just wasn’t quite as good as it could have been. I knew he was proud of my accomplishments but always felt that he would have been more pleased if I had gone a little further or deeper.
So when I came to God, I had that perception of Him as well. As I sat in that church that Sunday morning, I just felt like I couldn’t measure up. My marriage was nearly over and I had failed in my career. I didn’t feel as if I was deserving or even worthy of being loved. But as I sat there in the hushed silence of the morning prayer I heard God’s voice say to me “I love you and want to have a love relationship with you.” You can imagine what good news this was to me as I didn’t feel that anyone at that point of my life really loved me for me. I responded even before there was an altar call. I don’t know that one was planned. It may be that the minister saw me coming and thought the Spirit must be moving and gave one. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that when I prayed I felt a heavy weight literally lift off my shoulders. In fact, it didn’t even feel like my feet were touching the floor when I walked out of that church that morning. Such a transformation had occurred that all I could do on the drive home was laugh! I knew that I had fully surrendered my life to the God and I knew he was pleased! I felt so alive, so fresh, so new!
I’d never heard this described by anyone else the same way until I read an article in Guidepost magazine written by Dean Jones, the actor who passed away recently. He described that heavy burden that lifted off his shoulders as the weight of self. As I read it, I thought yes, that is exactly what happened to me! All the sudden I went from unworthy of love to being loved by the highest, greatest being that lives-God Himself. Oh what a thought! Where I felt I had failed people all my life, God was saying, I have not failed you. There is hope in me! And there was! While Dean Jones had lived much of his life searching for the one thing that would make him happy, I had spent all of my life trying to find my worth in the approval of others. We had both failed until we let go of self and grabbed hold of the love of God.
The first thing God did was save my husband. Together, we picked up the shattered pieces of our love and allowed the Holy Spirit to glue it all back together. I found that the Holy Spirit uses superglue. In fact, He totally restored our marriage and relationship. Today, I adore my husband! I long to spend as much time with him as humanly possible. We laugh together every day. I always tell him “you’re my world.” I delight in making him happy because He is who God has given me to care for. I’m truly happy in knowing that if I never accomplish anything worthy of worldly attention, I can know that have succeeded in that I have loved God and loved my husband well.
The second thing God did was free me from caring too much about what other people think about me. I do care about what others think, but I may not care about what they think about me. When customers cuss at me on the phone, it doesn’t bother me because I know that God loves me. When people mis-interpret what I do or say, I don’t lose any sleep over it. I do what I can to clear it up and then leave them to deal with their own selves concerning it. Even when I displease my husband, I realize that I’m human and people are not always going to be happy with me. I’m not always even happy with myself. I know now that none of these things change my worth to God one iota! His love is steadfast, unchanging and perfect. And nothing can separate me from His love. He loves me in spite of me. That takes all the pressure off and just lets me be who He made me to be. That is true freedom!
No matter how much of an outcast you may think you are, I’m here to tell you that you do fit! You fit in the Kingdom of God. No matter how unloved or unlovely you may feel, you are loved with a perfect love and that perfect love casts out ALL fear! Life in God is peace and joy and contentment. Truly!