Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Consider Him who suffered at the hands of sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I was baptized when I was 10 by my Grandfather who was a Baptist minister. My theology up to that point had largely been gleaned from a church that sent a bus around to our apartment complex each week, as my parents did not attend church. It was on one of those Sunday visits (when I was 6 or 7 years old.) that I said the “sinner’s prayer” and asked the Creator of all things (my Savior) to come into my heart.
My Grandfather told a joke from the pulpit of 2 and a half lives that had been saved... 2 adults and 1 child you might assume, but (he continued) it was actually 2 children and 1 adult. (as, the child has their entire life to give God and the adult only half a life).
So there I was…giving all my life to God. I wonder now, how I could have been so wise, yet so young.  Thankfully, God took His part in our relationship much more seriously than I, mine.
My parents divorced the year I was baptized and I went to live with my Dad. He was a preacher’s kid, but rebelled long before I was born. When he returned from Vietnam he was not able to smoothly join society and self-medicated with marijuana and whiskey.  He’s been drunk and high every day since 1968.
My Dad was very loving, although strangely controlling with an explosive temper.  He began sharing hard liquor with me when I was about 12 and getting me high around 14. When I was 16 and our personalities clashed, he kicked me out of the house. I quite school and worked 2 jobs to support myself.
I worked the “bar run” as a waitress at the Best Western (7-3). We feed the drunks when the bar closed, so they’d feel better in the morning. My co-worker, Terry, was a bit rough around the edges but very kind, with an inner piece I was drawn to. I learned later that her previous profession was the oldest profession (before she had given her life to Christ.)
I came to work late one day still “tired” from the night before and asked if she had anything to wake me up. Flashing her a condescending look I said “No thanks” to the offer of diet pills. But Terry didn’t judge me. She knew me. She saw right through me, and she prayed for me. After a few months, she invited me to church with her and her girls. I gladly went.
It was a sweet little place. Every one hugged when they entered and the preacher had a beard and played the guitar. For some reason each time he played I began to cry. That never changed the entire time I attended church there. My heart was the Lords and He was melting it. Changing me on the inside. Claiming me as His own.
The time came for me to move, but I brought my Bible with me, as well as all the seeds lovingly planted by the little congregation of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship. The next two years I moved from Idaho to Washington, to Alaska then to Las Vegas and to NY. I didn't have a home town (as a military brat) so when I felt like it was time to go, I would ask “Where now, Lord?” and move. Although my heart belonged to the Lord, my life reflected my lack of parental restrictions. I lived in excess and sinned more at that time than ever before. I read my Bible most every night and heard very clearly two things: The Lord loved me and He was displeased with my sin.
Just after my 18th birthday, I landed in Watertown, NY. At my first job interview I was smitten with my future boss (and husband). I gave my 2 week notice on our first date and we were married within the year. That was 26 years (and 6 children) ago. I was welcomed into Tim’s large Catholic family as his 13 siblings and their families filled Tim’s side of the Immaculate Conception Church while my Maternal Grandfather gave me away, and my Mom, aunt and brother gave me their support.
After our second child turned 10 months old, we moved to Potsdam, NY so Tim could attend college. I immediately found Koinonia Church (which became my extended family). I grew in my faith, being well feed and discipled in their midst. 
           It’s hard to put so many years into a succinct paragraph form. Hard to talk about hard years and painful choices, yet my story is one of God, his protection, His grace, and His kindness in choosing me.  Out of all the messed up girls in this world, I am still amazed, He chose me. I’m stubborn and rebellious yet He sees me steadfast and tenacious. I’m foolish and week, yet He makes me wise and His power is made perfect in my weakness. I think it’s easy to judge me, I do (all too often). Yet, when I put my eyes back on the Lord, I see I’m loved and His love gives me value. I bare His name, and live to give Him glory. 
           So why did I start with: Consider Him who suffered at the hands of sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart? If I focus on my past and where I've been, I very easily can become either bitter for all I have suffered (at the hands of sinful men) or I feel filthy, unusable, ruined and broken…if I however, consider Him who suffered, I see His grace to walk where I walked. To be tempted every way I was tempted. And to endure, without sin so He could be the pure spotless Lamb taking my punishment.  He also (by what He endured) has sympathy when I call out to Him. Knowing the pain I have suffered and even more, He sits at the right and of the Father and makes intercession for me. 
          Because of the price He paid for me, I have worth. I have been set free. Yet, I live as a bond servant of Christ. Ever living to seek His will and glory in my life, and to make known the riches of His kindness, mercy and love.