Friday, December 23, 2011

Comfort and Joy

I don’t remember why I had been sent to my room. I can say that I was probably five years old or so and that I was lying on my bed crying and furious. It’s hard to express strong feelings at that age. I was confused didn’t know what else to do except the say the worst possible thing I could imagine. I told The Lord I hated him. That would teach him a lesson about upsetting me. I wouldn’t like him anymore.

I had learned all about God at a young age. God was everywhere, Jesus loved me, and I prayed little bedtime and mealtime prayers every day. I had accepted Jesus as into my heart some time before that and even this outburst at God had been prayerful. But as the years went by I repeatedly asked for God for forgiveness for saying I hated him. I accepted Jesus into my heart more than once again. Sometimes I worried that that little hateful expression might have compromised my salvation forever. I knew the truth of our loving and forgiving God, but still, the youthful mind frets over things like that.

When I was 11 or 12 years old and living on Maui there was a missions group that lived close to our church. Youth With A Mission, or YWAM, is made up of people who have dedicated a year or more of their lives to the mission field for God. Singles, couples and even families with children would stay for a few months at this little house down the street. YWAM would be active in local churches including ours. They would help with VBS and sometimes I would see them out and about witnessing. And even though the idea of Maui being the mission field sounds appealing, I know that stepping out of your comfort zone and putting God fully in charge of your life is no easy thing.

One evening in December my family was over at the YWAM house for a little Christmas party. I don’t remember if there was food or who I talked to. But the memory of that night will never leave me. Everyone eventually gathered in the living room and starting singing. There may have been Christmas songs and there also could have been praise and worship songs. But as everyone lifted their voices up a tangible peace and joy radiated in the room. No one told me what I was feeling right then. But I knew it anyway. It was unmistakable. My mind, never certain of anything at that age, was able to be positive about this with no doubt. I was feeling the presence of God. God was there in that room and I knew it. I was almost surprised to realize this. I looked around and saw hands lifted up and eyes closed. One missionary met my eye and smiled as if she felt it too.

As I have grown older and learned more about God it is a comfort and joy to know that He is with me always, even when I don’t feel aware of it. But like blinking or breathing that you only need to think about it to be conscious of it, being aware of God helps me feel him with me. In that little house on a warm night in December when I felt the presence of God for the first time, it wasn’t God drawing closer as much as my heart opening up more.

My blogs this month have often been grasping in the cold December at something encouraging. But I’ve mostly been proselytizing which is something I fixed not to do when I started blogging.

No preaching here. This was real. On that night I knew that my angry words meant nothing compared to the surrounding love that is far from confusing. In that presence, I felt forgiven. My feelings and beliefs have been all over the place for a lot of my life including this month. But even if I don’t feel it He is there. His love stays the same.

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