Recently, I was thinking of the morning I found my Messiah. As many of you know, it was October 27th, 1979. But in truth, it was before that. Way back, when I was 14-years-old, I was attending a youth camp through the church I grew up in, called Camp Geneva. It was (and still is) a great camp with several cabins and a 1/4 mile beach in Holland Michigan.
I don’t remember the exact date, but I do clearly remember that night. It was on Saturday night and the whole camp had met in the chapel to listen to a message. And no, I can’t remember the text the teacher had shared from, but I do remember the impact it had on me. At the end of his message, we were led to pray a special prayer to receive the Lord.
Oh, how broken my heart was. Deep in my spirit I wept and knew I loved the Lord and wanted to fellowship with him. After the time of prayer, we were instructed to share our experience with the leader in our cabins.
Well, I did. I told the “counselor” what had happened and, much to my surprise (and dismay), he completely dismissed my experience. I was shocked! Not only did he say that it wasn’t “real,” he completely dismissed it as “an emotional reaction.” That was all? It wasn’t real? Well, it was certainly real for me! I don’t know what happened to me that night, but it was deep and sincere and moved my heart more significantly than I had ever experienced before!
But, as I have told many before, I became a “Timothy” without a “Paul.” There was no one I could look to for direction. There was no one to provide any guidance or training. I was never encouraged to seek the Lord for deeper revelation or even to read a Bible. In fact, I didn’t even know that I was supposed to do something with my new faith!
However, something happened to me! By High School, in between fights and smoking pot, whenever I was asked, I would always tell people that when I got older, “I will be a pastor.” I had no idea what that meant and the only understanding of a “pastor” was someone who went to a Seminary (In the church I grew up in, it was Hope college in Holland Michigan), and stood up in front of the church. That was all.
Now, you have to realize that until High School I was shy and extremely insecure. In fact, I was terrified of girls. So, even the mere thought of standing in front of a group of people and discussing things I had absolutely no understanding of, was completely alien to me.
During High School, I had examined the Baha’i faith, Mormonism, Tao, and several other ways to find “Truth,” wherever it was. I also experimented some with drugs, but oddly, none of those things satisfied the emptiness in my heart. One time, I was visiting a friend and he introduced me to someone who was reading Tarot Cards. She read the cards for me and determined, not surprisingly, that I had a great desire and searching within me. Wow! You think?
Finally, in the depths of despair, I finally found it! In 1979 the Lord met me in the basement of my parent’s home and suddenly, I experienced what I later read from Tozer:
“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long” ~A.W. Tozer
I finally understood the significance of the simple phrase, “God loves you“! I realized that is was the most important Truth anyone could grasp. I mean think about it, the God of all Creation has called us into a loving relationship with Him. And to experience this all we have to do is simply trust and believe in the deep care and compassion He is freely offering to us. That is it!
I wish all of us could experience the freedom and joy of a loving relationship with Yahweh, the God of Creation! But I later discovered how many believers have never discovered this. So many insist on relating to Him, not through His free offer of fellowship, but instead, through a legalistic list of rules. All of the “should do’s” and “don’t do’s.”
Instead of enjoying His free gift of righteousness (a right standing), their righteousness is based on what they can do for the Lord. All they have to do is rest in what the Lord has already done. They are bound to Him by their long list of “do’s and don’t’s.”
I realize that, from the very beginning, I have been blessed with a knowledge of my Father’s love. I have never experienced any of the frustration of wondering or doubting His love. But I have witnessed that depressing kind of negative righteousness. I have met many who felt that if they didn’t follow all the rules (that, by the way, were rules that they had created), God would be angry with them.
You know what I am talking about: no smoking, no alcohol, no dancing, no movies, on and on they go. Now please understand, all of those things are probably good and righteous. However, they are only good if it is what the Lord has instructed you to do.
I have told you how I quit smoking. It wasn’t my idea, it was something the Lord “tricked,” me into doing, but He did empower me to fulfill His wishes. You see, if you are going to rely on pure willpower, eventually your relationship with your Father is going to become a tremendous strain.
I say that because your efforts to earn your Father’s acceptance is an attempt to obligate Him, to force Him to do what you want. It doesn’t work that way, my friends. Once you discover this offer, you will experience that the ultimate witness to the world is the love we have for each other, a love that flows from the very heart of God Himself.
We know that without faith, there is no way you will ever please our God. However, if you base your relationship with Him only on faith, at some point, you will probably fail. However, if you base your relationship with Him trust, you will never fail.
Job 13:15 says, “Though he slays me, yet will I trust him.” That, my friends, takes a tremendous amount of trust to be able to say.
In your trials and difficult circumstances, it really doesn’t matter if your situation changes because it is not about you. You need to finally realize that it is part of Yahweh’s Divine plan — regardless of what the devil may do to set you up for your defeat — if you allow yourself to stop, to quit, to complain, get mad at your God, “Why did this happen to me?”
No, no. You need to reach the point where you can sincerely say, “Father, I don’t care if this kills me, I am going to stand where I am. I am going to believe that you will do exactly what your Word says you will do.” That is when you will become dangerous to darkness. Just remember:
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled
You have been handed an incredible invitation, a very frightening invitation, a very demanding invitation, but an enormous opportunity to touch the world with Grace and Mercy that your Father is offering to them.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.