This phase in my life culminated in my becoming pregnant by the man I would eventually marry, although at the time I had only known him for a few weeks. I was completely devastated. I had always felt myself to be a loser or in some way reprehensible, and so trashing my body did not bother me. The idea of being responsible for another living being when I was such a wreck disturbed me tremendously. I was convinced that I could not even be a decent human, much less a decent mother. I did not know what to do, only that I felt like any semblance of control I had over life had just slipped away. I felt more lonely than I ever had before, which was saying something from the girl who graduated high school a freak with 6-8 signatures in her yearbook.
It was here that God met me for the first time, although I did not know it was Him until later. At this low point of my life, He introduced me to real love. I had always wanted to be loved, but never felt worthy of it and so sabotaged it continually while all the time longing for it desperately. Now, with this child growing steadily in my womb, God began to reveal what love was really all about. Love was not for getting, it was for giving. I was broken by this realization, broken for all the time I wasted in bars and self-pity that I could have been loving my two younger sisters or my little nieces. I was crushed by the understanding that I had sought love when all the while it had been mine to give. But I did not yet know God.
It was sometime after my marriage that I began to have a strong conviction that there was Someone out there, Someone who had begun teaching me about love in order to teach me about Himself. It was then I weighed the options of all the religions I had read up on in high school and decided that I must read the Bible once and for all. After all, I had claimed not to believe it, but how could I honestly say that if I had never actually read it? And so I did. And I prayed, perhaps my first real prayer, "God, if You are there, help me to believe this book, because I do not believe a word of it. Show me Yourself if You exist, and I will believe, only I need You to help me believe."
Somewhere in my reading of the Bible, I realized that I did believe in Him. I was no longer praying, "Help me to believe," but rather, "God, why?" In time, He answered those questions, too. He led me to a church with a very solid preacher who taught from the Word of God, and His Word humbled and convicted me.
I learned that God created man and woman and they had perfect fellowship. . . until they chose to disobey God and allowed sin to enter the world. I learned that the consequence of sin is death. I learned that God drew out His people from the nations around them, choosing them by His divine grace to be a people set apart for Him. I learned of the covenant He made with them, and of the promise He made that "all the nations would be blessed" through Abraham's decendants. I learned that all sin is serious and requires the spilling of blood to atone for it, but that an animal was an imperfect sacrifice and so many had to die, for there are many sins.
I learned so much more, but the greatest thing that I learned was that Jesus Christ came to earth--God Himself in human form--to live a life of perfect obedience to God's law. He gave up His perfect life to pay the penalty for the sins of the world, and He rose again on the third day and now prepares a place for all who put their trust in Him and do what He says. I learned that He was calling me to die to my old way of life, to die to sin, and to live forever with Him. I learned that He requires obedience, but that He will give me what I need to obey if I merely trust in Him. The greatest part was, I learned that I never am and never will be alone. I have a Savior who is my God, my Sovereign King, my Intercessor, and my greatest Friend and Advocate.
Since the moment I first believed that Jesus Christ died for me--that His death was enough to atone for the myriad horrific things I had said and done--I began a journey with Him that would change my life forever. The more I come to know Him, the more I want to know. He has taken me through times of darkness where I could not hear His voice, and I have learned that the darkness was within my own heart. It was my unbelief that I was walking through, and He used that horrible time to expose it. On the other side of that, I see that it is sin and sin alone that seperates me from God. I see, also, that it does not have to be intentional sin. When I was truly desirous of knowing any little thing that stood between us, He showed it to me. My greatest desire is that I would not allow any "pet" sins to stand between me and the flood of Himself that my Lord wishes to pour into me, be it ever so small or seemingly harmless.
Lately, God has been teaching me about humbling myself completly. Part of that has been to serve others even when it is difficult for me, not for myself or for them, but because He gave His all for me. There is no act of service too great or too small for my Lord to ask of me, and He may ask that I do it with a cheerful and willing heart. I am His, and He is showing me how completely true that is, though He has never forced Himself or His will on me. He has merely given me a taste of what pure fellowship with Him will be, and that is enough to make me reject all the delights that this world holds for the hope I have of future delights beyond imagining in Eternity with my King.
And so, for the sake of obedience, I can learn to "Do all things without grumbling or questioning" so that I may be "blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." (Philippians 2:14-15) When I serve, I can also remember "whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4:11)
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.