What are you thankful for? I dare say some persons will wonder if they have anything to be thankful for. The truth is, as long as we are alive there is something for which we can give God thanks.
For ten days this month, we're going to talk about thankfulness. I will be joined by some lovely ladies who will share with us what they are grateful for. I hope you'll stop by to read their stories.
I’ve always been drawn to words. Written words. Spoken words. The Living Word. But I wasn’t always grateful for the gift of words. There was a time in my life when I wanted nothing to do with God’s word.
I was fifteen years old when my mom came to me one Saturday morning and told me we were going to church. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Up to that point, the only time my mother had gone into a church was for a wedding or a funeral. Sure she sent me to church when I was younger, but it had been years since my last visit. I didn’t even have clothes to wear. I squeezed into a too-tight skirt topped with one of my mother’s blouses and off we went.
We were new to the community so we knew no one. For a teenage girl who spent most of her time in books, this wasn’t the best place to be. I quickly realized that Christian teens were cliquish especially when they had grown up together. My mother, on the other hand, was in her element. She was soon baptized and fully immersed in the church. She had grown up in a Christian home and attended a Christian high school and knew all the ropes. Her baptism was a recommitment of her faith.
I eventually made some friends, but soon realized that I was not able to participate in a number of activities because I was not baptized. So, I made my decision – I would go under the waters if it meant I could sing on the Youth Choir. My baptism had little to do with a confession of my desire to follow Christ and everything to do with a desire to fit in.
Fast-forward a few years when I became convinced I did not belong in the church. Instead of seeking God with my whole heart, I walked away from His people and turned my back on Him. In the words of my teenage self: “I’m just warming the bench and I refuse to keep anybody’s seat warm.”
My decision to walk away started a barrage of words. I was accused of ‘turning my back on God’, ‘giving up my faith’, and ‘backsliding’. Nobody knew that the entire time I had been in the church I had been faking it. Oh, I was active in the ministries. I sang on the choir, was at every church service and most of the events. I held positions in the Youth Department. I was lead singer in a group.
When I walked away, everyone thought I had ‘lost faith’. They didn’t know that I had never had any faith to begin with. I tried explaining, but my performance in church had been so convincing no one believed me. So, I decided to shut everyone up.
I played devil’s advocate to their missionary attempts. I was sarcastic when they spoke to me about God. Pretty soon, I began telling people that I was agnostic (had lost faith in God). I blocked my ears and hardened my heart.
But God was not through with me yet. He pursued me through my teenage rebellion. He pursued me into young adulthood. He tried to woo me through the words of close friends and my Mom. When that didn’t work, He coaxed my loved ones to their knees.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when my heart softened towards Him. I don’t know exactly when my ‘word-blocker’ stopped working and I was able to hear the words of His servants again. But I remember being at a place where I felt I had tried everything I could think of except one.
I was going to stop trying to “fix myself”. I was going to do something I had never done before: whatever the cost, I was going to finish reading the Bible in a year. I had tried it in the past, but this time I was determined to finish it.
Oh my friend, the word of God is living and active. The same Bible I had thought boring as a teenager, became a collection of inspiring and inspirational stories. A few months into my Bible reading plan, I deleted the Kindle app from my phone as I felt called to stop reading other people’s words and focus on God’s.
I read the Bible in the morning. I read it during my lunch break. I read before bed. During the free moments that I would normally spend reading fiction, I filled it with the word of God.
I started seeing the beauty of a God who pursues His people, who loves them when they are most unlovable. For the first time in my life, I saw how He loved me. And it was humbling. As I recalled events in my life, I saw how God had snatched me away from disaster. When I made the decision to be baptized a second time, it was because I had fallen head over heels in love with Jesus and wanted to commit my life to Him.
God had saved me with His words.
I still love the written and spoken word. I am passionate about spending time reading and studying God’s word. But I have noticed an interesting thing – God is using the words of His servants to speak to me even now. There are times when I am struggling with something and the words in a blog post give me encouragement and hope.
I will be wrestling with an issue and start reading a book (not to find answers, but for a completely unrelated purpose) and the writer is talking about the exact thing I'm struggling with. Or, it could be the words of a song or a sermon. Sometimes, it’s a Bible verse that shows up in my feed.
God knows my love of words and so He uses His words to love on me. I’m grateful for the gift of words. I’m grateful for the 40 men whom God inspired to write the Bible. I’m grateful He used words to reveal to me how much He loves me. I’m grateful that He still speaks to me through words.