Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shine Your light and let the whole world see

God's arm is never too short to save. Just like the song says, HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE. If He was able to forgive a thief who was hanging beside Him on the cross at the last minute and that thief was promised paradise; if He was able to forgive David, the man the Bible calls a man after God'd own heart for his transgression; if He was able to forgive Peter for denying Him; if He was able to forgive Paul for persecuting the early church; if He was able to forgive Jacob for being such a deceptive person; if He was able to forgive the prostitute who was about to be stoned to death by the so-called righteous people; if He was able to grant redemption to that woman who went through five husbands; if He was able to call the most unlikely people and unworthy people - the least among us, those who were living a life of blatant sin, those who we used to think were beyond forgiveness or redemption - and use these people and their circumstances in life to advance His kingdom, then who are you to think that you are beyond His reach of forgiveness?

I can hear you arguing, if not loudly, then at least debating with yourself. "But God could not possibly want me. I've done this... and that... and I'm this... and that..." I hear you, brother/sister. I hear you loud and clear, because not too long ago, I was saying those words, too. Grant me a few minutes of your time by reading on, and I pray that God speaks to your heart through my words.

I grew up in a very religious family, but I never had a personal relationship with Him. Growing up, I remember questioning just about every practice in the religion I grew up in. It never really sat well with me why I could never go directly to God and pray to Him. I remember asking when I was young, "Is God's line busy that I have to use operator assistance to get to talk to Him?" I could not understand how an omnipresent and all-knowing God could not listen to a little girl's prayers.

I began to rebel. Not just because of the religion, but because my entire life was, in a word, a very huge MESS. I used the excuse that I came from a broken family, that I never knew my father, that I had every right to go against rules because it was my way of showing the world that I was in control of my own life. Thus began the downward spiral. At 16, I was already smoking a pack a day, drinking until I passed out, cutting myself and experimenting with marijuana. I disrespected my mother - I was willful, insisted on doing things my own way, and then I would blame her when things went wrong. I was mean, dark, and hurtful, especially to the people who loved me the most. I pushed them away and retreated into a world full of darkness, misery, and just about everything negative. I was an angsty teenager, and I thought I was cool. I thought it was cool to do what you wanted, when you wanted. I did not care about consequences because I thought I would live forever and I was invincible.

Fast forward to the year 2003. I was 18, and I was burnt out. I was tired of a life that went nowhere. I was drinking regularly then. I would sneak out every chance I get to drunk. Being drunk numbed me, and I welcomed that. And then I met people who showed me that there was another way to fill that emptiness that compelled me to keep destroying myself, and instead of destruction, I would find life and everlasting satisfaction, the kind that the world could never give. I know now that these people were sent by God, and I cannot stop thanking Him for the day our paths crossed, because it was through their testimonies that I am able to share my own today.

I gave my life back to Him in 2003. It was all smooth sailing at first. I was on fire. I was reading the Word everyday, I was praying, singing His praises, sharing the good news to everyone. And then just as quickly as it came, I burnt out. AGAIN. And so began the very long backsliding incident.

It was not just one thing that made me grow cold. It was many things, but mostly, it was my prideful and rebellious heart, insisting that I knew better, that I could do things better than Him. And so I went my own way. And I broke His heart countless times. I turned to every source of "comfort" I could think of except Him.

FLASH FORWARD TO 2008: That was when I hit rock bottom. I was getting drunk all the time. I was so angry at my mom for leaving. I was so self destructive that I have to wonder why God did not strike me with lightning right then and there. But in His infinite mercy and wisdom, He allowed me go through that darkness and still come out alive. He did not let the darkness and its evil consume me to the point that I could no longer cry out to Him for deliverance. Even when I was resolutely holding on to my own rebellion, He was slowly and patiently setting the stage for my coming home. Once again, He put people in my life who were, and still are, very much instrumental in getting me back on track.

Finally, I had had enough. Or rather, God decided I had had enough. I was on my knees, crying out that I had nowhere else to go. I was this close to slitting my wrists, or drinking an entire bottle of NSAID meds (I'm deathly allergic to those, see, taking one could give me a heart attack) - I was that devoid of hope. And right then and there, He met me. Oh, I wallowed in my depression and hopelessness for a while, but it is very hard to ignore the light and hope of His love when he persistently shows you time and again how much He loves you and how much He wants to give you the best life possible.

And by the best life, I do not mean that in this world's definition of what the best is. The best life according to my God, at least from what I am now beginning to discern, is not one that is free from suffering or persecution. Rather, the best life, I am learning, is one that is lived right there with Him, DESPITE THE SUFFERING AND PERSECUTION (because these are sure things to come when you live for Him). Sitting at His feet, listening to Him, crying in His arms when the world breaks your heart (as it always will), sharing your joys with Him, telling Him how your day went (even if He knows everything that happened already), lifting up the frustrations of being in the battlefield, and sometimes, simply being a kid and ranting to your Father and allowing Him to soothe you... that is what a good life on this earth means to me now.

So you, dearest brother/sister, you are never too lost for God to run to you and save you. John 3:16 said it best: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

If you're feeling tired, and you feel like this world has nothing left to offer you, remember my story, and remember the mercy and love that He showed, and continues to show. If you are feeling too tired and exhausted to stand, kneel, dear friend. Kneel down, ask Jesus to come into your heart. We are all sinners, and not one of us can ever atone for that by anything we do. Acknowledge that you are a sinner, and that the sacrifice He made by dying on the cross and shedding His blood is the only way for you to be free...  Only then will you know peace. I should know... I've been there. That is why I can tell you my story. Even the messiest and darkest circumstances, those intended for our destruction by the enemy, God can and will use for our betterment, and to bless others, too, only if we allow Him to.

I pray that you find what you seek. Whoever you are, I am praying for you.

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