My God Story
At 5 yrs old I was obediently memorizing my catechism: Who is God? … God is love. Where is God? … God is everywhere. Who is all powerful over all things? … God is all powerful over all things.
As was common to our lives, this night a tornado was bearing down on our farmhouse. Running through the kitchen, I saw a window crash in on my sister’s back with glass shattering all over the floor.
On a couch in the basement, with my head between my knees, I trembled under the blanket for my family. Feeling that locomotive sound in my chest of the tornado, and 8 other family members doing the same, I prayed a prayer I’ll never forget.
“God, if you are who you say you are, you can stop this tornado and save my family. If you do, I’ll do anything you want me to do.”
Walking upstairs I wondered what God wanted me to do for Him. That personal connect He initiated that day has never left me.
Other things happened as I grew: parent’s divorce, meanness, bullies, and #metoo. It all brought pain rearing its ugly head and tainted my vision of this world.
At 24 it happened. I sat in a city church service where a high schooler was dramatizing a person’s life. He sat cockeyed in a big leather chair behind a simple, giant doorframe, wearing a baseball cap and reading a comic book.
Suddenly a knock boomed in the sound system. Startled, he sat up straight. “Yes?”
“Hello Bobby. This is God. I want to spend time with you.”
A bit shaken, Bobby told how busy he was with lessons and homework, and how maybe some other time would be better.
This scene repeated again and again as he matured throughout his life.
Then came the moment. He stopped, looked up, put his newspaper down and slowly got up from the chair. He walked toward the door frame and stood — silent. Then he knocked. God answered, “Yes?”
“Hi, God. It’s Robert. I thought we could spend time together.” There was a pause of echoing silence.
God said calmly, “I never knew you. Depart from me. ” (Matthew 7:23)
What? I felt I was behind a jet engine and smashed into my seat. Then my rebuttals came and Truth answered me.
That's not true! ...Yes, it is. God wouldn't say that! ... Oh yes He would. It's in the Bible. Not to me! ... Who are you? Do you even give Him the time day?
I knew this story was mine. On the spot, I told God how sorry I was for ignoring Him my whole life. I asked Him to come into my heart, and walk with me and me with Him. He has.
My Creative Healing
2 years later, dressed in my starched suit and outlook, my counselor was trying for months to get me to talk, but I would not break. I was hardened and rigid from childhood and the ravages of life.
Then something unexpected happened. A weekend at that farm home in the wide open spaces of MN– a camera in one hand and an eye for beauty in the other– I fashioned illuminated pictures of the life I once lived. As rough as that life had been, in those moments I recalled (through my camera’s lens) foggy glimmer’s of delight: running free, playing in those wide open spaces, and feeling God’s warming presence and pleasure. I was whole in those moments.
Returning to the city, my counselor asked, “What happened to you?”
I had no idea what he was talking about. The new me laid on his couch in ugly sweatpants and shirt, without a care in the world. I was changed in a moment in time, creating beauty from ashes.
The bible says Jesus will, comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. –Isaiah 61:2-3 The whole chapter is a great read.
Could others heal this way? By simply creating beauty within their past suffering and pain? Could it change their world like it had mine? I found a new way to look into my pain. It brought healing and perspective. I’m grateful for my pain. It has made me, me.
Life can be complicated, and very simple. Sometimes what seems impossible can happen simply: a miracle. It can happen for you.
In my story, God got in, broke through my story of pain, and delighted me with the creativity he put in me. He made me to create. Creating healed me.
What God Says To Us
Look! I am standing at the door and am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with Me.Revelation 3:20
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!Deuteronomy30:19
There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behindC.S. Lewis