A bit more about me . . .
People are important to God, and they're important to me. Families are extra important to me. Where would we be if we didn't have people to love and be loved by? All families deserve respect and equipping, even if they don't look or believe the same as we do. The Bible says that everyone is created in God's image. EVERYONE.
When I read my Bible, I see that Jesus hung out with many people whom the churchy-church people refused to associate with. To me, one very cool thing is that these people also wanted to hang out with Jesus! They were attracted to Him! I want to show that kind of love to others.
I live my life with the guiding principles of loving God and loving people (Jesus said that ALL the other commandments rest on these two principles and called them the two great commandments. Don't believe me? See Matthew 22:38.) the Bible also says that mercy, or loving kindness towards others is what God is seeking from us (See. Micah 6:8 and Hosea 6:6). There are a ton more of Bible verses to support this, and I don't share them to be a smarty pants but just to show that there is biblical support for loving kindness to ALL people. So often those outside of a relationship with Jesus feel like they have experienced judgement and scorn from people claiming the name of Jesus. I've actually been on the receiving end of this at one point in my life, so I know how much it can hurt.
The Point Where My Life Changed
It's common, I think, for most of us to reach a point when we question our purpose and wonder if there is something more. That time for me came the year before I turned 40. We had four children at that point and were wrestling with how to raise them, as my husband and I each came from completely different religious backgrounds.
People often talk about times that God responds to a prayer, reaches into their lives and turns everything upside down. My story is no different; I feel it's important to share, since others may be searching for meaning in a way similar to me.
As adults, we didn't go to church. We weren't married in a church, and it just wasn't a part of our lives. My husband and I had debates about religion all the time, especially when it came to the kids. Well, one thing led to another, and although we were really hesitant, we decided to go to a local church one Sunday.
We survived. It was weird, uncomfortable, but the people there were nice to us, so we went back. The kids started to make some friends there and had fun. There was still something missing for me, though. It was nothing I could put my finger on, but I just knew that there was something I needed to know that I didn't currently know. Whenever I saw my neighbor who also went to that church, I would always try to steer the conversation around to Jesus, She never really shared anything with me that made me go "Ding Ding Ding!", there was a missing link, and it bugged the crap out me!
One thing she did tell me that stuck was something like "walking with God is like the way that two oxen walked yoked together. It's not about doing things for Jesus; it's about doing things with Him and letting Him lead."
One night I said a prayer in the shower, not knowing that it would yield big results and be life-changing. I said something like, " God, I want to walk with You, but I don't know how; please show me the way." (Can you tell that oxen example was stuck in my head?) My words were sincere, but honestly, I didn't have a clue that my prayer would catapult me into the ride of my life.
It Starts to Get Real
A few days later, during a meeting with the pastor, I mentioned something about hell and not wanting to land there, and he responded that it didn't need to be like that. Wait, what? He had my full attention. You mean that God hasn't kept up a tally of the bad things I've done and is just waiting to send me into fiery eternity?
He proceeded to lead me in a simple prayer, telling God I was sorry for the bad things I had done, that I believed that Jesus was God's son and that He died for me, and then inviting Jesus into my life. To be honest, I was not fully convinced, but I couldn't think of a single reason not to trust that Jesus really was God and really had died for my sins.
So I said the words...simply, honestly, sincerely, but not having a clue. Not. A. Clue. (The exact words I said were something like this: "God, thank you for loving me and sending Jesus to die for my sins. Please forgive me for the wrong things I've done, and come into my life to be my Lord and Savior." It was literally that simple.)
As crazy as it sounds, by the next day, I could feel God's spirit filling me up - a real, fullness in my chest, like when you're so happy, you feel you might burst! I knew that those words, that prayer was real and that Jesus was as real as you and I, and that He was now a part of me. It seemed crazy! But I know it was true. I trust it IS true.
Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
If we ask God to show up, He is listening, and He will. We just need to be open to Him and trust. We don't even need to understand fully (I didn't!); we just need to be willing to take that first step.
If this is something you choose to do, it will be the ride of your life! And an amazing one, at that!