As I mentioned in my last blog, I will spend the next few weeks exploring the three most important things to me and why.
First – my faith in God
I remember a very intimate conversation with God that occurred while I was experiencing a challenging time in my life.
‘You have never doubted my existence. You doubt my interest.’ said God rather clearly and unexpectedly into my mind one quiet morning while I was enjoying my morning cuppa.
I was caught unawares by the power of the truth that He spoke into my heart in that moment. I was gently, clearly and personally reminded of being fully known, loved and accepted. There was no judgement or condemnation in the words. Instead, I marvelled at the power of the truth in them.
I have memories as a little child of mum dressing us up in our Sunday finery and walking with us to the end of our street to the solid brick building with the words, St Wilfred’s Sunday School carved in stone above the doors. Mum played the piano in the hall each Sunday morning for the crew of around 20 children from pre-schoolers through to early High School. We’d sit in rows, youngest at the front and the older High Schoolers at the back on the hard wooden pews. Each year we would graduate to the next seat back until there were no more seats behind. I guess after that it was off to big church or to other things that interested teenagers instead of the simple songs and bible stories of Sunday School.
Each week we’d listen to stories from the bible and receive stickers in our booklets for attendance and completing the worksheets each lesson.
I enjoyed it very much. I was one of those good kids, quiet, no fuss, listened intently and loved colouring, filling in correct answers and singing. Loved singing.
One week I recall being quite fascinated by the story of Gideon who asked God for a sign that He was going to help Gideon and his people beat the neighbours across the border who were marauding regularly through their farms and towns destroying crops, livestock and pillaging the homes of the Israelites. Gideon wasn’t exactly excited to be asked by God to fight the enemies. He wasn’t the bravest of men and in order to be convinced needed God to prove He was actually up for this rather dangerous venture. What fascinated me was that God did exactly what Gideon asked and went on to use Gideon and some rather strange tactics to destroy the enemies without a battle taking place at all.
I pondered this marvellous story for the rest of that Sunday and as I went to bed that evening, I wanted to ask God to do something for me. I lay there wondering what I could ask God to do for me. I decided, as it was dark and all the birds had gone to sleep, to ask God to send a bird to call right outside my bedroom window.
I lay there in the dark for a moment, thinking what a crazy thing to ask for; when yes, just outside my window a bird called rather loudly for what seemed like quite a few moments.
I immediately leapt in fright out of bed and ran out into the loungeroom yelling, ‘God’s in my bedroom! God’s in my bedroom!’ to my startled parents.
They calmed me down until I could finally explain what had happened. I remember learning a new word that night that changed my perspective for many years to come.
‘It was only a coincidence,’ they assured me, ‘only a coincidence.’ They calmly took me back to the room, checked under the bed and in the wardrobe, looked out the window and again reassured me, God was definitely not in my bedroom. Nothing to fear here.
I wasn’t totally convinced and tucked the experience away until I had opportunity to attend a church camp some months later. I told my story to some young friends and they encouraged me to go to the Pastor and tell him. I did. And yes, he again reinforced my parent’s response. ‘It was only a coincidence. Only a coincidence.’
I remember feeling great disappointment and a bit of confusion as something just didn’t feel right about what they were saying. But here was a man who was very knowledgeable about God, so who was I to argue with him or my parents. Remember, I was the good kid after all.
I dismissed the experience and actually forgot it for a number of years.
Lots of water under a lot of bridges later, back to God’s statement to me; ‘You have never doubted my existence.’
I knew that to be true. As a young child, I believed implicitly in the existence of God and I smiled at the memory of the naïve young girl asking God for a bird to call in the late evening outside my bedroom window. I knew it was not a coincidence, but a very personal encounter with my heavenly Father who knows me, loves me and accepts me.
The second part of the message went deep into my psyche drawing out a painful wrenching sob. He touched a deep raw wound I hadn’t acknowledged or fully understood in me. Somehow along life’s way I had internalised a tragic lie. I’m not worth it. I’m not enough. I don’t rate. I don’t matter to me, to others or to God.
I, in that moment, cuppa poised in my hand, knew that a lie had crept in and robbed me of life for far too long. A light went on and I agreed with God. Yes, I do doubt your interest. I doubt. I doubt. He gently reminded me of just how valuable I am to Him. He sent his much beloved son to die for me on the cross so I can spend eternity with my heavenly Father. His Holy Spirit abides in me as a promise of an eternity to come. I am much loved and very interesting to God.
Something very powerful changed in me after that gentle and intimate conversation. I marvelled again at the power of a very present all knowing, all powerful God who desires companionship with me. He took the lie, disposing of it appropriately no doubt and reminded me of the gospel seed he planted in my life at 19 years of age. It had become buried over time, not destroyed but hidden under layers of false messages, foolish thinking and poor choices. He berated me for nothing, but invited me to yet again, return to truth and live by faith, not by sight, trusting in Him, not looking elsewhere for value, meaning and purpose. My journey from that moment has been daily choosing to believe, trust and allow the ancient truth to grow and bear fruit in my life. God is interested in me.
Yes, what an amazing thing to consider. The God of this universe, creator, awesome in power, majesty and might calls me His own. Calls me his beloved. Calls me his bride. I am worth it because I am His and He is mine. His banner over me is love.
My faith is a who. It’s in a God who knows me, loves me, accepts me and is deeply interested in me.
I look forward to hearing your story of faith, discovered, lost, found again and held. You are worth it and you are not alone.