I grew up in a home that had some awesome parents, two older sisters and a few funky faith traditions. Before I get started, let me confess that I grew up in a Southern Baptist home, with Southern Baptist roots, and a few Southern Baptist oddities. My Mom grew up in a Wesleyan Methodist Circuit Preacher’s home. The kind of home with rules that included things like, no movies, no makeup, no dancing, and certainly no rock and roll. No dress above the knees, men with high and tight haircuts and women with no haircuts, but really tall buns (I’m referring to hair here). My Dad grew up in a Southern Baptist home that included rules like, no playing cards, no words like darn or dang (gateway words) and no cutting the grass on Sunday. And yet, I could go to dances, listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd or Cream, but put a tie and jacket on Sunday morning and sing the right hymns.
No wonder I’m a mess (kidding – kind of).
I grew up in a world of rules. I am so grateful for that, but it took a toll on my faith life. I saw the Divine, in some measure as a cosmic cop that was just waiting to bust me doing something that was clearly approved on the “official list of what not to do’s.” It wasn’t until my late forties that I began to grasp the Gospel that the Divine had been trying to teach me all those years. It was in a season of exhaustion, weary, bone-tired brokenness that I heard the Words of Jesus in a way that I could experience…not just read.
After a lifetime of hurt, condensed into a few short years, I was exhausted. I was worn. I was at the end of my physical, emotional and spiritual rope. To say that I had hit bottom would be a vast understatement. I recall spreading out a blue tarp on the back porch and placing a 9mm bullet in the chamber of my pistol. AND, I remember, in the flash of a millisecond that two of our daughters were already missing a biological parent and the other four would be left with the haunting thought that I had failed in some odd way. In that moment, I put the round back in the clip, gun back in its safe place, tarp back in the garage and collapsed in an emotional heap of insecurities, anger, worry and frustration. While in that position, I can honestly say that I HEARD THE DIVINE speak life into my aching soul. I’d always heard of God speaking, but I really couldn’t wrap my head around that concept. While it may not have been audible, it was far louder than that. Here is what I heard, and this is where the Beatles come in.
- I heard the Divine say to me, with Waterford crystal clarity, I LOVE YOU! I knew our kids loved me. I knew Jenny loved me, my problem was that I allowed others and Satan himself to convince me that there was much of me to love, including my own self. The Beatles had a hit that released in 1967 on the Magical Mystery Tour album. The title of that song? All you need is love. The lyrics? “Love is all you need…love, love, love. Love is all you need.” My soul, like many of yours, needs to hear the Divine say “I LOVE YOU!” It was at that moment in my life that I truly, earnestly understood that He loved me and I could not make Him not love me. When I was overcome with sorrow and guilt, I was more greatly overwhelmed with His presence and love! I look back today I think of all of the amazing days and experiences that I would have missed. It’s good to be loved! It’s better to know that you are loved here and in the Heavenlies.
- I felt the Divine directing me to a greater purpose that He was calling me to. A purpose that would use all of my screw-ups, poor decisions, and failures. A purpose that would use all of those experiences and not leave me in a pile of anxiety over them. How cool is it to know that the Divine can and will use your failures and your victories to use you for your own good and for His glory? If I could give one piece of advice to every person I meet, I’d offer this: The Divine has a plan to use you in His grand plan . It includes your failures and your foibles…but it also includes your wins and trophies. Seek His plan for you, surrender to it, and live it in peace, joy, fulfillment and contentment!”
- I knew the Divine cared about my entire life. He let me in on His plan that is deeply concerned about every facet of my life. He was grieved that I would not trust Him in my season of pain. He cared that my insecurities were winning the battle for my soul. He cared what I thought about, where I went, who I was with, and how I was doing. Listen, friend! The Divine is intimately interested every part of your life. When we cast aside our pride and our ego, we leave room for Him to make us aware of that!