Oct
04
2012

I believe in the Kingdom Come/Then all the colors will bleed into one/Bleed into one/But yes I’m still running/But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. U2

The deepest proof for God’s existence, apart from history, is just life itself. God has created man in his image, and men cannot elude the implications of this fact. Everywhere their identity pursues them. Ultimately, there is no escape. Clark Pinnock

Life’s sloppy. You think you know how tomorrow is going to be, you’ve made your plans, everything is set in place, and then the unimaginable happens. Life catches you by surprise. It always does. But there’s good mixed in with the bad. It’s there. You just have to recognize it. Susan Beth Pfeffer

 

I had my own experience in which I had lived as a believer too long. I was a junior in college and I was definitely living two lives. I was going to church, and occasionally living out my beliefs; I even went on a mission trip during that time (doesn’t that make me holy). I had such great motives. The problem was—it was just so difficult to get my actions to follow. You see, I was also another person. When one has an impersonal relationship with God, they inevitably do not know themselves or their importance in life. They will go where the wind blows. Even with all of my confidence on the outside, internally I was a mess. I played a good game; I knew how to impress; I knew how to wear the mask. But I was also the person who had dark secrets hiding just under the surface.

At the core, at that time in my life, God was not my security; relationships with women were. During that school year, I was in a handful of different relationship. Most of them were shallow. Most of them were based on what I could get out of them. Just like me, these women were just out for a good time. At this point in my life, there was one woman I had had my eye on for a long time. To this day, I remember her name; it was Julia.

Julia was my kind of woman. She was artsy; she was European (literally) and bohemian; she had a way about her—elegant and angular. The way she wore her hair; the way her clothes hung off her body; the way she spoke with her Italian accent—it all mesmerized me. Julia was in a class that we shared together, and overtime we became friends, and I kept my infatuation for her hidden. The college where we attended had a two-week break during January and most students got out of the city and ventured off to other areas of the country. Over coffee at the Harrison Diner one day, Julia mentioned that she was going to Toronto over break and she wondered if I would like to go with her. I was pleasantly ecstatic. Of course, I would, and so we began making plans.

In all of my days, I will never forget that drive to Toronto. I love driving early in the morning, getting up at 3 a.m., having a cup of coffee in hand, and driving through the early dawn. It was something I grew up with as a kid; as a family, we always started our vacations just before sunrise and it’s always stuck with me. Before daybreak, I picked up Julia at her apartment and we headed out on I-94, heading east toward Canada. We were cruising along, chit-chatting and had the music turned up. It was a very cold January night and when we reached just across the Michigan border, it began sleeting. I slowed the car down a bit, but drove on. Just past Kalamazoo, I thought I heard something pop, but I just kept on driving. At that section of the highway, it was three lanes and I was driving in the middle lane. There was a semi-truck behind me, one in front, one to my right, and one to my left. I was surrounded by all of these semi-trucks and we sped down the road at seventy miles per hour. Unbeknownst to me, my tire had blown. Unbeknownst to me, there was ice an inch thick on the road. Unbeknownst to me, the car was about to slide out of control.

I was driving nervous, both hands on the wheel, knuckles white. Stupidly, I sped up to about eighty and moved into the right lane of the highway. I wanted to get to that far right lane as quick as I could, because in my gut I knew something wasn’t right. However, as I made the lane change, my 1977 Chevy Caprice Classic skidded aimlessly toward a guardrail, just missing an eighteen-wheeler. Julia screamed and I tried to keep the car under control. Thankfully, no cars (or semis) hit us, but we did hit the guardrail in dramatic fashion. Julia was hysterical and I was rattled by the circumstance as well. I got out of the car and looked over the damage that actually wasn’t that bad (they just don’t make cars like that anymore). As I ventured toward the back of the car I saw that my rear passenger tire was in shreds. I got out the jack and began replacing the blown wheel. It was freezing out and like a lot of forgetful 20-year-olds, I hadn’t packed very well and I didn’t have a winter coat. It was January—Julia was sitting in the car crying and traffic was whizzing by me as I attempted to change the tire.

After about forty-five minutes later, we were driving again, Julia was still upset, and so I asked her if she wanted to get in the backseat and go to sleep. Not a half an hour later, right outside of Jackson, I was driving along in the early morning, and just out of nowhere the car did a 360° spin right in the middle of the highway. That’s how icy it was. Thankfully, no cars were in front or in back of me. I was now shaking. I got out of the car and literally slipped to the ground because now there was a thick layer of ice on the grass and road. I was trembling and was audibly thanking God for protecting us. I climbed back into the front seat and Julia was shaking the sleep off, rubbing her eyes, and asked if everything was okay. I lied. I said things were fine. I also added that I thought it would be best if we pulled over for a while until all of the ice melted.

At this moment in time, God was talking to me. He was trying to get my attention. I knew and he knew that it was not best for me to be on this trip with this attractive Italian woman. It was just another attempt of me running away from what I really needed to face. Right there, I should’ve turned around and gone back home, but I didn’t. God was trying to get my attention and I ignored him. Julia and I decided to stay in Jackson that night at some crummy motel. Nothing happened as we slept next to one another—but you know what, I wanted it to and that was all that mattered. I was running as hard as I could away from God no different than Jonah.

We finally got to Toronto and I met Julia’s friends and our time together was filled with a lot of drinking. The first day we were there, three of the guys brewed their own beer and we drank a lot of it. Julia was originally from Lithuania and the next night we ended up going to a Lithuanian festival. At first, I was having a great time; I was drinking a little; I was talking to a lot of different people. But deep down, I was terribly sad. I looked around at the people and everything seemed so depressing to me. The whole situation was depressing. Slowly, but surely, I was realizing how depressing my life was. I was running away from God and it was finally catching up with me. We sat down to eat and not shortly after we were seated, I heard God speak to me more clearly than maybe I ever have before. In my mind, I heard two simple words: Go home. That was all that I heard, but it was enough. It was a voice that was firm; it was a voice that was serious. God was trying to get my attention and I knew those words were for me. I got up out of my chair went over to Julia and told her I was heading home. She commented that she would see me when she got home and asked me if I knew the way back to her friend’s apartment. I explained to her that I was actually heading back home to Chicago and just like that, I was out the door.

Herbert Agar has said, “The truth which makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.” This was exactly where I was at in my life. On that journey home, it was as if Jesus was literally sitting in the car seat next to me and we drove home silent, not a word being said between the two of us. On the way back to Chicago, I was almost involved in another car accident, driving through a snowstorm, and again, I got out of the car shaking at the knees. It was confirmed, I knew God was trying to drive home a point. He was attempting to tell me something rather simple: Kelly, you must give me all of yourself. Not just the crumbs. If you want to be with me, you must live all of your life for me. Now, it’s up to you.

Now, it’s up to you. Those words pierced me because that was the full truth. That night as I drove into the city, I parked my car outside my apartment and just listened to the silence in the cold. That night just sitting there, I did my very best at relinquishing all of these unruly desires and the pursuits of unhealthy relationships. At that interval in my life, it was the most out of control it had ever been. I was frantic for love, but for the wrong kind. Even though I could not put it into words at that time, that night I tried to put Jesus at the center. That January night, sitting cold in my Chevy Caprice Classic on Oak Park Avenue, for the first time I became a follower of Jesus, his follower, his disciple, his servant. At that moment, I tried to fall in love with him and with no other. I tried to really follow him for the first time.

Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see. The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.

Revelation 3:18-20 (The Message)


In: Friend to Jesus
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