Sunday, October 14, 2018
Sunday Afternoon Tea - The least, the lost, and the highly unlikely
I remember the moment it hit me how unhappy my life was after my father died when I was a child. I was talking to a woman I worked with, the mother of two acquaintances from my high school, and she was sharing how she missed having her girls at home because they loved spending time together in the kitchen as they made dinner or baked treats.
I realized that I had never had such an experience with my mother before that time. Never. I don't think I remembered very many good times at home after my father's death. It threw us into always being short of money, moving off and on when the rent was increased, and then eventually to my mother making an unwise choice to marry a man just for financial security (which it never gave her).
I had eight siblings, seven from my mom's previous marriage (she was widowed quite young) and one brother from my father's first marriage. However, I was pretty much raised as the only child I was and didn't feel a part of the extended family. After my dad died and my mom remarried, I was almost always alone.
Don't get me wrong, my actual siblings could be quite loving but I never lived at home with any of them after age four or five, even the youngest of my mom's original seven children, to really know them. Not as they knew each other. I was closest to my youngest and oldest sisters but there were usually miles between us. My mother and I remained very close in spite of the circumstances.
I was such a mess on the inside, I felt so lost, even if it didn't show up much on the outside. I didn't belong in my family, I felt abandoned by my mother at the time, I hated being at home with a crazy stepfather, and I had already been hospitalized once with "nerves" as they called such things back then.
I felt, although I didn't know the story at the time, much like David may have felt when it was assumed one of the brothers had to be the one destined to be anointed King and even his father had to be reminded that he had "one more son" out in the fields, tending the sheep.
Then a God ordained event happened as a teenager, when an acquaintance invited me to a revival at her Wesleyan church. I later found out from her that they had been told to ask the least likely people they thought would ever become a Christian to the revival. She asked one of my best friends and me.
You see, what that acquaintance had no way of knowing was that God had been tugging at my heart since I was a toddler. I remember thinking of God all the time as a small child. It was as if He were there beside me even in a family who didn't know Him.
By the time I was invited to a revival meeting, even with God tugging at me from my toddler years, I was just at the cusp of making bad choices. Some of my close friends had started drinking and dating different guys. As I looked back, no wonder the person who asked me to the revival assumed I would have no interest in the things of God.
I have mentioned before that I came to Christ during the Jesus Movement and I have heard many such stories of God reaching out in various ways to those highly unlikely to become Christians. For this was the revival where God called to Himself those outside the normal religious family... those of us not raised in a church... those of us who appeared not to care about God at all... those of us who either had already or were on the cusp of choosing the world and not Him.
I was among the least, the lost, and the highly unlikely.
Even my birth would have been unlikely in the world's eyes. I am sure my mother never thought she would have another child again after being widowed with seven children. My father had not made very much contact with his son from a previous marriage, due to a very contentious divorce. Another child was not on his bucket list, I am certain. Although both of my parents were happy when I was born.
Once I accepted Him as Savior, He started working in my life in such a way that I look back now decades later and I stand amazed at His faithfulness. I also can understand a little more about why He allowed so much of what I went through. Not entirely. Never so on this side of Heaven. But just enough to see His Truth.
For my friends, God uses even those very hard times and seasons and events of our lives for the purpose in which he made us. It is our decision what we do with our lives and the decisions we make... whether to accept His offer to save us and make us and mold us and create a work of Beauty where once there were ashes.
It is the seeds sown in those early years that grew to become the message I have today. It is the events and circumstances of those early years that molded my life in such a way that I could not only endure later trials... I could flourish in them.
For I came to realize that the hurt endured in the early years was the genesis of my deep faith as an adult. Only one who has endured the darkness can fully appreciate the Light. The woman in the Bible who has been saved from much was the woman who sat at His feet and poured over them an expensive fragrance because she knew from where she had come.
Oh, my friend... everything you have endured in life can be the seeds of present and future faith and hope and yes... praise. If we do not decide to live in the despair and never forgive and let God show us that His Plan was for our good and His Glory... then everything He has designed us for in this world can be woven together into a beautiful tapestry called our life.
The good, the bad, the ugly, the light threads blended with the dark threads... all woven together and then ordained into something perfect and precious because He not only touched it... He designed the pattern which was the warp and woof threads of our completed tapestry.
We talk about the need for accepting Jesus as our Savior and admitting we have been sinners and must have the provision of what He purchased for us on the cross to legally be absolved of our sins. We have heard the sermons. But do we believe it?
Do we fully realize that what the Word says is true? That He has washed us and made us a new person in Christ? It is when we fully accept that we are that new person, that actual new creation from the person we were before that moment... that the Beauty is woven into the tapestry of our life.
I have been little, I have been lost, and I was most definitely the most unlikely person to attend that revival service. But that is exactly the kind of person He loves to use the most. That is why we lay our crowns at His feet.