I AM READY
Is there any place I can go to avoid your spirit? To be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon, You'll find me in a minute--
You're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you
This past weekend at church, I was profoundly reminded during the sermon of my journey. It is my journey to meet Jesus and how he waited patiently for me to be READY. God walks beside us in our stories, this is a part of mine.
When I was around the age of 9 years old, I had a dream where I met Jesus. As a child I loved my dream world. Dreams were a place of vast imagination where I could fly, swim, run fast, conquer fears, climb trees, and just have endless adventure. This dream is particularly remarkable because when I recognized Jesus, my heart wanted to run to him, jump in his arms and get a big hug. My mind raced to the Jesus I learned about in Sunday School who was loving and welcoming. After recognizing him, I stood paralyzed and not able to move. Jesus looked at me with peaceful confident eyes and said, “Don't be afraid. You will come to me when you are ready.” There was no judgement, just a peace. When I awoke, I was confused by what happened in my dream. How could I not run to Him? Why was I scared? The presence I felt in my dream has always stayed with me to this day.
The years to follow were filled with a series of events that allowed me to begin to understand God and the Bible. My teenage years were filled with stepping out in faith to experiences with God through conferences, trips, camps and being a camp counselor. These were key experiences which led to seeds being planted and would eventually bloom after years of being dormant. Jesus created amazing moments where I could sit in HIS presence, and I loved those moments but turned away quickly running back into the world. Jesus waited.
The flip side of my teenage years were filled with some large and small experiences which propelled me to run away from Jesus. In every situation we have this choice, run towards or away from God. I continued to choose running away. When I was 16, after leaving a Seder meal at church celebrating Palm Sunday. My best friend and I hopped in my car. This was the first night I was allowed to drive to a neighboring town. The fun adventure ended quickly with a massive collision on a back country road. As the car came left of center around the bend and ran head on to my car, I remember after sitting in the front seat with my best friend and saying goodbye to each other. We were scared. We were uncertain if we were going to survive. We both lived and I had several months of recovery. Jesus watched and protected.
This experience left me in a place believing life was short. You must embrace and live life to the fullest. In my mind this meant doing what was exciting, fun and all the ways the world defined embracing life. It was a mindset of not knowing when life would end…so run hard into the world. To further reinforce this thinking, at the age of 18 my dad passed away suddenly. He was 48 years old (my current age). As a teenager, I struggled with my relationship with my dad. As a daughter I had no idea how to grieve. The intense feelings of grief were overwhelming, and escaping was my coping mechanism. Jesus outstretched his hand continually wanting to comfort me, but I would not grab it.
A few months after my dad passed away, I entered college. The escape mentality and pursing feeling good continued. It seemed easy to slip into using substances to escape alcohol, sex, and smoking pot were avenues. I was broken in so many ways. I craved acceptance. I craved excitement. I craved being numb. And Jesus patiently waited.
A year before graduating from college, I became pregnant. My life was beginning to spiral, my lifestyle was such that I was not even sure who the father of this child was. I could not acknowledge "it" as a child. I just wanted to make “it” go away. I made the choice to have an abortion. Jesus tried to intervene, the day of the appointment I did not know where I was going. I walked into a “anti-abortion” site located beside the abortion clinic. A wonderful woman spoke such loving words to me, but my heart was hard. My walls were built with such strong stone. I was not hearing any words she spoke to me but looking back I know that Jesus continued waiting and pursuing.
This choice left me even more lost. I was not aware I needed to grieve this loss. I was ashamed. I could not even acknowledge "it" as a child. Once again, I ran away from God, continued to pursue what felt good and allowed me to numb. This decision followed me for many years under the surface. I didn't' recognize when my friends started to have children why I stayed away from holding or caring for their babies. This loss was planted deep.
The years that followed this decision, included graduating from college, a continued to desire to party diving deeper into the use of substances and I began to escape through travel. The desire to be numb and escape became greater. Then I hit rock bottom. The actual rock bottom event is not as important as the desire to finally begin crawling out of the hole I had spent years digging. Jesus met me and convicted me to look at my life and where I felt the most fulfilled. This was fundamental in taking first steps to heal. Looking back I see Jesus in this moment, but at the time I had no concept of his guidance. Jesus continued to pursue and wait.
The next years were filled with beginning to make healthier choices. I began to heal. Jesus continued to pursue me and guide me. I would find the desire to step into church almost once a quarter. Each time seeking water or fertilizer for those seeds planted in my teenage years. Every time I stepped into a church; the harsh reality of religion not relationship was what I found. I continued to pursue things for escape it changed to travel and adventure. Jesus still waited.
In October of 2002, a friend from high school invited me to Crossroads church in Cincinnati. It was my first Saturday night living in a new town. I accepted the invitation. It was the first time I felt the feelings from those seeds planted so many years ago. It was not just the message but the community. They were invitational, authentic and accepted me. The invitation included attending a Halloween Party after church which is one of the reasons I accepted. The party was filled with people who were at the church service. Jesus smiled.
I continued to attend the church, at first, I enjoyed the challenge of what was being said in sermon but did not know about the whole Jesus thing. My heart was hard but softening. The music was filled with love providing hope and created a feeling of desire. I enjoyed the dark room allowing me to cry, laugh, sing, agree or just disagree. My walls began to crack. The spirit of giving freely was learned. The spirit of hearing God’s voice became louder. I joined multiple community and small groups. This provided avenues to grow deeper in my understanding of the bible and space for God to move. Jesus brought people into my life to show me what it looked like to walk with him daily. The seeds were beginning to grow and taking root. Jesus pursued and waited.
In 2008, Jesus pushed hard to create some amazing growth. At the beginning of the year in February, he introduced me to a loving strong man who would become my husband. I finally grieved my 1st pregnancy and received forgiveness for the choice to end it. Jesus called me to South Africa and I went. My prayer was for Jesus to show up. He did and was provided a deeper understanding of the power of prayer. A group of people from our trip were out in the rural part of country and prayed for man with an infected eye. Jesus healed this man. Although we did not see this transformation, Jesus allowed for the story to be revealed in HIS unique way. This experience deepened my faith. Upon returning from South Africa, I accepted a proposal for marriage. Jesus pushed me to accept and marry HIM first. A few weeks later I was baptized. My baptism was beautiful, as I was surrounded by my family (some believers and some not) and the key people who walked beside me to bring me back to Jesus. My flowers were in bloom and it was beautiful. Jesus opened his arms to welcome me back.
In 2018, as I sat in the woods at Woman Camp, Jesus called to me in a new way. I was revisited by the dream from so long ago. I was struck with Jesus telling me that I WAS READY! This meant I had grown in my relationship with Jesus. I pictured running into his arms and hugging him confidently. I shouted out "I AM READY". As I sat in the woods Jesus, and I became friends. The long-awaited reunion had come. Jesus knew that 36 years later I would be READY. Jesus set me free from all those sins (choices that took me away from HIM) and allowed me to embrace HIM as a Lord, savior and friend.
I AM READY to follow where Jesus leads.
This is a part of my story. It will hopefully allow you to know that Jesus can forgive you for anything big or small.
I want you to know:
Jesus will wait for you.
Jesus will pursue you.
Jesus loves you no matter what choices you have made.
He will forgive you.
He wants you to know that turning towards him brings freedom and life to the fullest.
He has loving arms to wrap around you.
Are you READY?
Read John 14.