26 February 2012

More than a "Hey There!"


My name is Addie, and I have a secret addiction.

Secret even to me, apparently.

I wasn't even aware of this until I started cleaning out purses and bookcases and bags and my china cabinet.

What do I do, buy a cute notebook every time I walk into Target or Barnes and Noble?

Yes. Actually.

They all start out with good intentions. Track weight and calories here, chart workouts there.

You can imagine how long that lasts.

But tonight I was issued a challenge: to read the Bible and pray every single day without ceasing until June 25. I mean, I can keep reading and praying after that, but June 25 is a special day this year.

The day before I leave for Honduras.

I know what you're thinking. I should already be reading the Bible and praying every day. Let me be perfectly honest - I try, I really do. But I get selfish and have my own pursuits and sometimes my quiet time with my Savior turns into more of a loud, rambunctious quick "hey there!" shout to God as I'm rushing out the door to work in the morning.

So here's where my little notebook fetish is going to come into play. One of my little pretties is going to get chosen as my mission trip book - my Honduras Notebook - and from now until the trip I'm challenging myself to every single day find a couple verses in the Bible, jot them down and write about what I think those particular passages are saying to me and how I believe it pertains to this trip.

Check in with me every so often and see how I'm doing, ok?

Tonight's Honduras meeting was encouraging. We were given the task of bringing our testimonies into versions where we could give them in the span of one to two minutes. What made it extra-special is that several of my co-workers were there - it's so great to know that I work with other doctors and nurses that aren't afraid to live out their faith.

Mine's not the most exciting story in the history of life-changing testimonies, but it's special to me. It's about me and my Jesus, and only me and my Jesus, and no one and nothing can detract from that very first time I met Him. While not flashy, it's the story of the beginning of the most meaningful, fulfilling relationships I've ever been in.

Is it ok if I share my story with you?

On a dark and stormy night...

Not really. I think it was the middle of summer on a sunny, hot afternoon. Not a lot going on. I was probably bugging my parents about being bored on summer vacation.

When I was in middle school, my little sister came home from a Vacation Bible School session at one of the local Baptist churches. I didn’t know what she was all excited about – she was my little sister after all – all her annoying jabbering usually went in one ear and out the other. The pastor of that church came over and explained to me and my parents that my sister had “invited Jesus into her heart,” something about being “saved” or whatever. My parents were thrilled, and at the prompting of that pastor, we all knelt as a family there in the living room to also get saved.

Slight problem. I didn’t know what the words meant. I didn’t know what just happened. I just knew I didn’t want to be left out of what everyone else was doing. So like a big, saved happy family, we all went to that baptist church for a couple Sundays, then went forward in church to be baptized…but I still didn’t have the slightest clue as to what all this was about. I knew Mom and dad were happy and proud of me, and that’s all that mattered at the time.

My family became very active in that church after that, and I was usually in the building whenever the doors were open. Bible studies, youth group, all the stuff that you're supposed to do in church. As I grew up, I took pride in not being one of the “bad” kids –I was pretty good to the point of being a fairly boring teenager. God had nothing to be worried about with me, right? I didn’t drink, do drugs, or even stay out (too) late past my curfew. I somewhat obeyed my parents. Somewhat.

Here’s where the story starts to get interesting. When I was 15, I went with my church’s youth group on a summer retreat to a church camp where I remember singing the song “Lord I Lift Your Name on High.” But there was a problem with one of the verses – I couldn’t get out the words “I’m so glad you’re in my life…I’m so glad you came to save us." My mouth wouldn’t work, my arms wouldn’t work…all I could do was stand there crying and trying very hard not to fall down on my knees in front of everyone. I just couldn't get those words to the song out!

Despite being a so-called “good” kid, I didn’t feel like I had the right to sing those words to God. It hit me that being good just wasn’t enough – it would never be enough. God didn’t want my good – God wanted me. God died for me. He didn't have to, but he did. An overwhelming feeling of need and unworthiness rose up. I needed forgiveness. I needed a Savior. I needed the unfailing love only God can provide.

Tears streamed down my face as I looked at my youth pastor. “Do we need to go talk about Jesus?” he asked. “Yes,” I whispered. This time I meant every word as I prayed.

I won't lie and say that life ever since then has been full cupcakes and glitter. It's been hard - harder than I ever imagined. But you know what? At least now I'm not alone in those struggles.

The world disappoints and backstabs and causes more problems than solutions. But my Jesus? He's a steadfast rock that loves me for eternity.

I don't know about you, but I need stability like that in my life.
And cupcakes. Those too.

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