My Heart’s Desire

My Heart’s Desire

I decided to let God into my life when I was 22. I could see that the activities I was engaging in, and the activities of the people I hung out with, could very possibly one day cause my death or incarceration…a sobering thought. Nothing answered this quest in my life for relevance. Why was I here? What was the ultimate use of my life? Was the pursuit of good times a reason for life?

My own up-bringing included Catholic grade school and high school. Somehow, I reasoned that the God of the Bible was irrelevant to the 20th century world. It didn’t look like the people who made the trek to Mass on Sunday, lived any differently than I did. It seemed more productive to spend Sundays doing laundry and recovering from Saturday nights. And, I wasn’t at all sure the trade-off was worthwhile…following rules and suffering through religious services would produce what exactly?

I visited Mormon church services, I read Eastern religious books, I even let myself be picked up by some Hari-Krishnas for transport to their meeting place. (I bolted before we arrived. They discussed their philosophy with me in the car. It was so denigrating to me as a woman, it was easy to eject that research project.)

When I finally tested everything (including hallucinogenic mushrooms), I thought I would give the God of my youth another chance. By now I was 4 years past high school and mandatory church attendance. My reasoning: maybe I missed something before, that my inexperienced mind didn’t grasp. (Because now I was really experienced…and knew what I didn’t want.) I just knew I hadn’t found peace, or satisfaction in relationships, religion, work, or drugs.

Even though I had been trained in faith-based schools, my prayer was pretty simple. “God, help me, I am a mess. You can’t do any worse with my life than I am doing right now.” Maybe it sounds corny, but right then I had a picture in my mind of one of those “zippy slates” we had as kids. You know the type. It has a waxy surface with a piece of heavy gray plastic over it. When you write on the plastic, and then pull up on it everything disappears. It seemed like an answer to my prayer–new start Vicki! With this picture came another startling idea. What if God created us, and His rules would help us live in harmony? After all, if He created us, He would know the best way for us to live…right?

My life was radically changed. It wasn’t overnight. My vocabulary gradually cleared, so that I didn’t have to manually filter the words I spoke in public. I had peace in my life without drugs. Reading the Bible helped me realize the standards God required were easy. Jesus himself said it “Love God with your whole heart and soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT) Not easy if you hang on to your selfishness, but attainable if you abandon yourself to Him. The cool thing about God, it wasn’t a race to fix me, just one small thing at a time. The “fixes” are all about truth, wisdom, patience, kindness, self-control. They’re not repulsive.

Now, finally, the punchline. What is keeping you from looking for the God of the Bible? He’s real. He cares. He’s gotten a bad rap from some. Those of us that follow Him are pretty lousy followers sometimes. Take some courage from that though, He doesn’t hold grudges, He’s always willing to accept an apology or a wayward child. The Bible is full of stories of normal people with normal struggles, and they are still called friends of God.

John 3:16-17 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

FEAR

2 Timothy 1: NKJV

6Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

There was persecution in the church when Paul wrote this. It appears that he is writing to Timothy to strengthen his faith. Fear can be a crippling emotion. When you are in the middle of it, you need reminding—to pray, to read your Bible. It doesn’t always come naturally. We have a GOD who is mighty, who has given us the tools, to fight any battle. My dad is in a nursing home right now, fighting pneumonia. Whether it is the medications, the illness, or some other factor, he is experiencing crazy frightening dreams and hallucinations. Even though he is strong in his faith, he is overwhelmed with these thoughts.

My own battle with cancer would have me waking up, frozen with fear. What would I find out today? Would I need surgery?

Sometimes we are too engrossed in our situation to pray for ourselves. The words will hardly come. These are times for our friends and loved ones to bring our needs to our loving Father. Our family has friends all over the country because we have moved several times. It gave me hope (and strength), when I was down, to call friends and ask for prayer. It was awesome, thinking there were people in all sorts of places offering up prayers for me!

Other times, we need to take whatever steps we can to pursue God. Begin reading your Bible, increase your time alone with God. It helped me to write in a journal, everything I was worried about—and give it to God to handle. That was an awesome exercise! I could see how He answered each issue over time.

Joshua 1:9 NKJV

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Isaiah 43: 1-3 TLB

But now the Lord who created you, O Israel, says, “Don’t be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you, for I am the Lord your God, your Savior, the Holy One of Israel.

Lord, you are so faithful; to remind us you are always near. Strengthen us, help us. Turmoil is all around us. You are the Almighty God who created heaven and earth—and yet we forget, and rely on our own strength. Our hearts are overwhelmed with your love, your unshakeable and unchangeable, love. Let anyone who reads this be drawn closer to you Lord.