I’ve known the Lord since I was a child. I grew up in church and, from an early age, had an interest in the Bible and prayer. I remember praying in my bedroom when my parents were fighting, and praying during a thunderstorm when I couldn’t get the gate unlocked to get back inside, and I prayed before I got into a car again after experiencing an accident when I was twelve. I prayed for silly things, too, like that my Tigger stuffed animal would come to life. However, somehow, I’d always known the Lord as Mighty to Save. More than my parents or teachers or anyone else I looked up to, I knew the Lord could rescue me when I was in need of rescuing.
And yet, even with 20-something years of gradually maturing faith behind me, I still seem to be continually learning that the places within me that ache can be filled only with Him.
I’ve sought reprieve from the ache in alcohol, by getting straight-A’s in school, by only eating x-number of calories a day, and I’ve sought it in people. I’ve tried to find life in so many different things, and every single time I come back to the Lord, exhausted from trying to be okay on my own apart from Him, and with a fresh awareness of how He’s the only one who can save and heal and redeem and love me the way I need to be loved.
For me, accepting Christ wasn’t a one-time event. I was nine when I consciously made my faith my own, when I accepted the Lord as my Savior who died for my sins, but I’ve had to accept Him many times since then. I had to accept Him when my mom died, and I had to accept Him when I’ve stood all alone in this world with nowhere to call home, and I had to accept Him when my hopes and dreams have seemed far away.
And yet, even at the times I’ve been the most mad at Him, even when I attempted to rebel by saying I doubted His existence, I’ve also confessed to my closest friends, “I don’t know if I even believe in God anymore, but I love Him. Deeper than my consciousness or understanding, my heart aches with love for Him. I can’t stop loving Him.”
Once I invited Him in, He took over my heart. I’ve still struggled with sin and faith. I’ve battled hopelessness and feeling defeated by life. But my heart is tied to Him. And I know that—having a heart that is bound to Him–is not something I could’ve willed into existence. Rather, it’s His doing. It is proof that He exists and He loves me and He will never leave me, no matter how far I stray.
He’s been my patience when people or situations in my life would’ve normally elicited anger.
He’s been my comfort when I had no one to wrap my arms around.
He’s been my strength on the days when getting out of bed truly feels impossible.
And He’s my provider. He gifts me with reasons to laugh and moments in which I feel loved and significant. He has given me a roof over my head and an income and a job I love. And all that I feel like I’m still lacking is forced to sit down and recognize how much the Lord has already provided. He is my reason for gratitude. And He is my joy.
And He’s my hope. There is nothing in this world safe to hope in but the Lord. That’s a lesson He is still teaching me. The Lord doesn’t ask us to abandon our hopes and dreams and follow after Him desire-less. Instead, He asks us to put our hope in Him as opposed to things the world can provide. He beckons us to come near, to speak with Him, to come to know His heart, and realize that we can trust Him.
I’ve tried to do life on my own. I know what that looks like. And I know how hard it feels. When I try to take control of my life, everything falls apart. However, when I submit to the Lord, I stop feeling exhausted, and I start seeing His hand in things. I start seeing what He’s doing in my life, and that inspires an excitement for life. I want to see what else He’s going to do and how He’s going to take all the broken fragments of my life and make them something beautiful. When I give Him control, I can breathe again. I have the blessed freedom from trying to hold together what only He can hold together.
Life with the Lord is an adventure. He is my best friend, my Father, and my Savior. He defends me when the world is cruel and promises to redeem not only what’s been done to me, but the mistakes I’ve made as well. He is the holder of my heart, hearer of my dreams, and keeper of my secrets.
And I don’t think I’d know Him as all of those things if I’d walked an easier path. If I hadn’t hit wall after wall in looking for wholeness apart from Him, I wouldn’t have found myself on my knees at His throne, so acutely aware of how completely dependent I am on Him.
And that’s the most beautiful thing. No matter how many times I fail or get lost on this path, when I fall to my knees at His feet, He is never angry or bitter or cold. He never says, “I told you so,” or rebukes me for not having enough faith. Instead, He reaches down, cups my chin in His hand, and lifts my face so that my eyes meet His. And when I look up at Him, I see that He isn’t angry or disapproving, He is smiling. Because He is Love. And I am home.