Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
I need to back up and revisit a time in my life when I was eighteen years old. I know in the last blog I had already moved into my married life, but it was years after I was married that I looked back and God showed me a part of my life that I didn’t truly recognize at the time that it happened. So let’s go to March 1990………………….
I was a senior in High School attending the Christian school at my Dad’s church in Houston, TX. I was the pastor’s son, I was popular, and I was on fire! lol I did however have many struggles in my life at this time and the main one was trying to remain free from sin.
I would of course have good days and bad days. In my heart I was so on fire for God that everyone could sense my zeal and desire to just charge hell with a water pistol. I believed I was unstoppable and that I was headed for the greatest ministry anyone had ever seen. I was courageous, committed, and WEAK!
At this time I believed that I had to have more good days than bad days or I was just going to split hell wide open. I would be so committed to God on Monday and Tuesday but then something would happen the next day and by Friday I was down again under the difficulty of sin. My life’s verse I believe had become Romans 7:18 “I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” That was me for sure. Listen I tried and tried to do what was right but my fleshly desires would overcome my spiritual will power!
So what was I going to do? I was surrounded by people that lived such holy and pure lives. I was supposed to be the one that had it all together and be the leader of the youth group and to beat it all I was a preacher. How was I ever going to have a ministry if I couldn’t get my sinful nature under control? I of course had those great spiritual leaders around me that would remind me that if I truly repented of my sin, and repentance meant to turn away from it forever, I would not struggle with it. So if I was still struggling then I hadn’t truly repented and that is why I struggled. They loved to quote me the scripture that said, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” – Luke 13:3 Hey that was me! I guess my problem was I hadn’t repented. I wanted so bad to serve the Lord and I continually asked God to forgive me and I even would say, “I repent!” but you know what the desire was still there!
This went on for days, weeks, and months. I was on a rollercoaster that wasn’t bringing me excitement. I wanted so bad to be the person that everyone expected me to be, but I just couldn’t. I was just too weak. I had the knowledge and desire to live for God but that one sin that wouldn’t go away had a complete strangle hold on me. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I went completely into the world just like diving off the high dive at the public pool. No turning back and no regrets. I had tried to serve the Lord but I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t made of the same stuff those around me were made of. I was just destined to live in this world as a regular sinner and that was that.
I left home and quit school all in the same day. I plotted for about three days how I would do it because I couldn’t leave with my parents knowing, so I packed up what little possessions I had and left in the cover of night. I still almost cry to think about how my mom must have felt when she went into my room that next morning. I am to this day so sorry for what I know she must have felt, but you have to understand I was already damaged goods. I had too many worldly desires; I had already given into this flesh too many times. I was a dirty hypocrite because I would preach against sin and then go out and commit it. I had gone too far too many times and I couldn’t go back now.
I had two friends pick me up in the middle of the night and they were the only ones that knew where I was. I was now beginning my new life in sin because that was where I belonged. I was now the poster boy for Hebrews 10:26 “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” I was without any hope now because I was a deliberate sinner! I had left in the middle of the night to start a new life’s destiny. I couldn’t be the person that all the church people wanted me to be because I was a sinner!
For a few days I just lived it up. All the freedom of an adult man I was experiencing at eighteen years old. I was running head long into this new life and was taking it all in with the same zeal and passion that I had previously tried to serve the Lord with. I don’t think the phrase, “Go Big Or Go Home!” had been coined at this point in time but I was the epitome of it. I was finally immersed in the life that I had been destined for and for two or three days I was living the high life at last. No stress or pressure to rise up to a level of expectation, no one with me cared what I did or how I acted.
Now what happened on the third day I was gone would later serve as the third cornerstone of my journey to survive religion. I didn’t recognize it as a building block until ten years after this incident but when I did a new level of living for God emerged in my life and I have never been the same since. Are you ready for it?………
Block # 3 – God wants me with my dirt!
Let me explain. I was sitting in the house where I was living now in my new life of sin and worldliness. It was late at night and the phone rang. I didn’t think much of it, the phone rings all the time. My friend entered the room and said the phone was for me. Now understand only two people knew where I was and they were both in the room with me, so how could the phone be for me? I didn’t give anyone the phone number because I didn’t know the phone number. My friend proceeded to tell me that the person on the phone claimed to be my grandpa from Tennessee. I got on the phone and sure as I am typing this right now it was him. My grandpa from Sparta, TN was on the phone talking to me.
It is important that at this point I tell you that the entire conversation with my grandfather was full of love, patience, and compassion. Not a single time did he ever condemn me or make me feel shameful. Please take this advice from me at this point. When and if you ever have to try and minister to a person that has left church, God, or home be compassionate, loving, patient, and non-condescending to them! If you want to help restore them and be the loving hand of God reaching out to them do it just like Jesus would do!
I asked him how he got this number because I didn’t even know the number. He told me that he had been praying for me and that the phone number appeared to him on the back of his eyelids as his eyes were closed. He opened his eyes and dialed the number and now he was talking to me. He proceeded to tell me that he had a dream about me the night before and that in the dream I was being squeezed by a large snake. This snake had me all wrapped up and was coiled around me and looking at me in the face and just laughing at me. He told me the devil had deceived me and was just trying to destroy my life and laughing all the way! At this point something in me changed and it would never be the same. I called another friend later that night and I had them pick me up and I left that house and never looked back.
I began to ponder what happened to me that night. Here were the facts of the entire situation.
- I was fully involved in complete and constant sin.
- I was not even thinking of how I could serve God or ever going back to church.
- I had completely left God and the church in the dust behind me.
- I was a complete backslidden dirty rotten sinner!
As I pondered those facts I was puzzled by another fact that just wouldn’t leave me. Here it is, GOD CAME AFTER ME AND I WAS DIRTY! Now hold on just a minute. I was not in a place at all to serve God. I wasn’t praying for God to deliver me, I didn’t want to be delivered! So why was it that God came after me? Was it that God wanted me with all my sin and shame? Could it be that God wanted me just like I was at that moment? How could that be? I needed to be repentative, and dedicated. I needed to be at the altar pouring out my heart to God that is the people he wanted. I needed to be like Abraham and David not like Sampson! Was I pleasing to God with all this dirt? Could I make it living for God, I mean He knows my struggles and that probably in a few days I will commit the same sin again! Why, why, why did He chase after me? I dint want to come home!
Now let’s fast forward ten years and now I am twenty-eight years old. I have fallen into the same mindset that I have to be perfect or at least try to be perfect if I am going to be used by God. My ministry is probably not growing because I still struggle with the same sin that I struggled with at eighteen. I know that is a shock to you but hey I am just being real here! I felt myself being oppressed by this religion I had formulated in my own life. I began to focus on my failures once again and what compounded the situation now was I had a child. I mean come on; I should be over this stuff. How could I be the father I needed to be and still struggle with these things?
It was at this point that I realized all those many years ago God had chased me down in my horrible pit and miry clay because He knew what I would one day become. I truly had a destiny to serve the Lord and be a successful Christian. If that was the case then how many more were out there just like me? And there it was! The light went off in my mind and I realized to the fullest extent how God would go after someone and take them with their dirt and all the baggage that came with them. I realized if God wanted me then with all the junk He must still want me know because He came after me then knowing how I would be ten years later! This was a freedom and empowerment for me.
From then until now my sin no longer dictates who I am. Do I fail God? YES!!! But I never let my failure lure me to discouragement! I never look back and I never regret. Am I sorry for the sin I commit? You better believe I am. Does my sin make me sad and ashamed? Yes it does, but it no longer stops me! If God came after me in a house located in Houston, TX when I didn’t even ask Him to look for me, He must have wanted me with all my dirt!
This idea that the church has pushed for so many years that you have to be perfect to get the blessings of God is just not the way it is. I do believe that God wants to bless us but we don’t have room for those blessings. We need to get rid of parts of our old lives to make room for the newness and blessings of God. But make no mistake about this, God wants you and I just like we are right now! I don’t have to change today to be a child of God, but being a child of God will make me want to change for my Heavenly Father. Let the legalistic religion that requires you to be something you’re not way too early in your Christian walk just fall away. I can tell you from experience, God wants you with your dirt, and He will give you time to clean up as He reveals the spots to you.
Block number four is just around the corner……………………………………………