It took a near tragedy for me to want to get to know God as an adult. We latecomers to the faith usually wait until we are desperate before we finally turn to God.
Why are we so stubborn? Just like the Israelites in the Old Testament thousands of years ago, we insist on doing life without God. Over and over, we make the same mistakes, make the same messes. And just like He never stopped loving them unconditionally, He never stops loving us, either. History truly does repeat itself.
As a little girl who went to church on Sundays and recited mindless prayers I was a tiny bit obedient because I had no choice and God was scary. He was not my friend. I did not want a relationship with Him.
As an analytical, young teen I rebelled against the whole idea of being under God’s thumb, or anyone else’s, just because it’s what hippie girls did back then. And I certainly did not want to be good.
If it doesn’t horrify you that I grew up in the crazy Italian family that owned the corner bar, and that I could blow a perfect smoke ring by the age of ten, we may have a little in common. If it does horrify you, I promise I don’t use crude language and tasteless humor.
We are like gems in the rough to God,
and He will use a jeweler’s hammer to shape us. If that doesn’t work He’ll use a sledgehammer. And if that doesn’t work, He’ll use a jackhammer. Rick Warren says that in his book, THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE. In a minute you will know why I am sharing that analogy.
Know that I allowed Jesus into my life in high school for a brief time. Just long enough to save my life. Then a boy happened and Jesus took a back seat. It wasn’t until one July day, about forty years later, that I handed Him the reins, then took them back, and gave them back, and so on. It was only by His hand that I survived that day. It was my jackhammer.
My chest should have been crushed by the motorcycle trailer that landed on me, but instead of falling back, I folded in half, spread-eagled, face down in the dirt, the trailer landing on my back and crushing a vertebra. It was the final event in a series of large and small mishaps, and it got my attention. The first thought in my head was ‘Ok God, I hear you. And I can’t do life like this anymore so I should probably go to that church I was invited to.’ It was my year from hell.
The church was five minutes from my house, but I avoided churches since leaving the Catholic church at thirteen. I faked it for a while with my first husband. We went through the motions when we had our daughter. It didn’t stick, though. There was no relationship, no fellowship, no studying of God’s Word.
If you feel like you don’t belong in a church, we have that in common, too.
Most of my life I would talk to God when things were hard and I felt defeated, but I didn’t hold Him close to me, and saw no value in going to church. As I grew older my edges only got rougher. I just didn’t belong with church people.
All my messy life that is how I felt, but that accident really shook me up. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t crippled by it and was back to work in three weeks. It was a miracle. There have been several in my life that I did not recognize.
It seemed I owed it to God to at least try to do what I said I would with my face in the dirt that day, so I started attending that church – and fell in love with it. Everything about it. And I felt like I belonged there. The people were amazing to me. I made lifelong friends there and began to thrive. How I would love to see you do the same.
Trust me, it was very awkward at first.
The way I was welcomed was surprising, though, and the music was amazing! Then the preacher! He blew me away! A skinny, young, dynamic speaker whose words pierced my soul. I had no idea how badly I needed to hear them. And how badly I needed to become part of a church family.
The thing is, if we isolate we don’t grow. A major part of our growth as humans happens in relationships. Especially the painful ones. And all of our spiritual growth comes from being relational, being part of a church family and a small fellowship group that studies God’s Word. Doing those things has proven to me that if you actually give church people a chance they will become your most supportive and loving family ever, no matter how bad you or your relatives think you are.
You can check out my local church and my favorite pastors online if you want to eavesdrop. Click this link to find Deep Creek Community Church, (DC3). It is the kind of church to look for when you decide you’re ready. A Bible-based, interdenominational, evangelical Christian church. That’s my best explanation. Not that I have anything against Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic, etc, etc, but I prefer a church that doesn’t draw those lines and just teaches from the Bible.
Those lines are all of men, not God. He does not care what denomination you choose to associate yourself with. He is all about accepting Jesus into your heart and trying to be more like Him. Period.
Please remember to be realistic about how we will have to deal with people we don’t like in every area of life. Any group of people will create friction and church people are no different. You don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to love them.
We attend a church because we aspire to become more like Christ, but we’re not there yet. We are all works in progress, learning how to love like He loves us. That means loving people regardless of their annoying habits, bad attitudes, and mean spirits.
If we share what we are blessed with, He blesses us with more.
So it took me a year and a broken back before I finally made it to that church, but it may have never happened had the patient in our office not shared her blessings with me. Did I tell you she actually prayed for me that day? Who does that?! Only people who strive to love like Jesus, that’s who.
When she returned six months later and I was out of work on an injury, she went to great lengths to reach out to me. She wrote me a letter and had my boss mail it. Because she stepped out and spoke up, my life was saved again by the God of a million second chances. And that was the beginning of my true Christian walk.
It’s been three steps forward, two steps back, ever since. I was baptized for real at that church, in July of 2010. Fully immersed in a baptistry, as it should be according to the Bible, proclaiming my belief in Jesus as Lord of my life.
God Never Stopped Pursuing Me.
He chased after me my whole life. And He put some amazing people and circumstances in my path to get me back. The series of large and small miracles along that path boggle my mind when I consider them all. You know I didn’t see them as miracles while in the midst of them. I made a list one day, that I keep adding to. The more I learn about God’s character, the depth and breadth of His love for us, the more I recognize how many times I’ve been rescued and chased after.
We are numb to those moments amazing, fleeting moments that prove God’s love for us and His never-ending, nurturing presence. We are blind for so many reasons, but mostly because we don’t even know Him.
Getting to Know God is So Worth the Time
‘Trouble is, how do you do that? Do you know where to begin? There’s this collection of books called the Bible, and it’s the best place to begin if you really want to know God’s character. Together all those books tell the whole story of God and His people, from the very beginning. It’s not arranged in order after the first five books or so, but you can read a chronological version of the Bible now. Most people just don’t read it at all because it’s so hard to understand and such a huge nut to crack, right? Wrong!
If you have twenty minutes a day you have time to get to know God.
You can do it by yourself, but my suggestion is the Daily Audio Bible website or app, where you can have it read to you.
I love that God’s Word is being read to me and unraveled for me by a knowledgeable Bible scholar who knows how to make it all come alive. You can read along on the app or website, too, or get yourself a Bible. I am in my second year of listening and I will never stop now. I will listen and read along, over and over.
I love sharing what I am learning. I will burst at the seams if I don’t! If you want to learn with me, please do two things right now:
- Go to https://dailyaudiobible.com to have an amazing story-teller narrate – and teach – the whole Bible in twenty minute bites every day. You will have heard the whole story in a year. And you will understand it!
- Subscribe to my blog so you get notified when I post something new. https://godlovesbadgirlstoo.com
If you know nothing about anything about the Bible, please just enjoy listening to Brian Hardin read it to you, enjoy my posts, and share your thoughts. You will see that Brian’s wife and daughter narrate the Chronological version. His youngest son narrates the Kid’s version, which is five minutes per day in the New Testament, to finish it in a year. Very cool.
For the true beginners that might have a dusty Bible sitting on a book shelf, here’s a tip on how to read and decipher the ‘address’ of a Bible verse:
Num 6:24-26 = the book of Numbers, Chapter 6, verses 24, 25, & 26. It’s really easy if you just download a Bible app. There are many, but most popular is @BibleGateway.com or @Bible.com.
The Word of God is alive, dynamic, and relevant. Even in this world, today. Especially today!
God’s love for you is a never-ending source of peace, comfort, and deep down joy that cannot be taken from you. Not ever. In these uncertain times in our world wouldn’t it be nice to have an anchor somewhere?
I hope you will consider starting a new, really easy, daily habit of listening to the Bible every day for twenty minutes, because it really makes God smile to have our attention. And it’s how we get to know Him. It’s how He speaks to us. The more we learn about God’s character, the more we want to know. You will develop an appetite for more knowledge down the road.
Feel free to shoot me an email if you’re too shy to post a comment.
Links to my local churches:
May God bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace rest on your heart when you give Him your time.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 https://my.bible.com/bible/111/NUM.6.24-26
“Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other.” Ephesians 4:2 CEV