You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
I was four when I was first baptized. I remember standing up in front of my church with my parents and sister. I was so terrified to be up there in front of so many people that I pinched my Moms legs so hard with my wee hands that I tore a hole in her stockings. This was my first memorable moment in church.
As a kid I grew up in a small community, and most people, if not all the people attended the same church, their kids went to school with me and we all shopped at the same store. I didn’t really think of salvation at all while growing up. I truly believed in my heart that because I had come from a good home; a Christian home, had been baptized at four, and spent my life attending Calvinettes as was custom in my church, and then chatechism that I was a shoe in to heaven. I grew up, did what most kids in my small town did and spent Friday’s and Saturdays staying out late. On Sundays I was too tired to go to church, or I’d get bored mid way though the service and quietly excuse myself and take off for home. I had effectively quit church around age 16. At 19, I met my husband and we began our relationship backward and started our family almost immediately. After I became a Mother I suddenly felt a duty to take my family to church. This proved to be rather awkward and difficult because my husband was not raised in the church, nor was he a Christian. The first thing he said to me following an old school liturgical service was “it feels like a cult in there with all those people talking back and forth between the minister”. Because of his first impression at my childhood Christian Reformed Church, he rarely if ever went back. We would go with my family if we happened to be in town, and if I persisted enough we would go to a CRC near our home. While visiting the CRC in our town one weekend, we were invited out to a church members house for lunch the following Sunday. That entire week I fretted about what to wear, pondered a fruit basket vs a box of chocolates and worried that they would not think I was good enough? I half wished they’d call and cancel because my anxiety levels were steadily rising. Sunday came and we arrived after church. I had my face pasted with a smile. I donned my semi-formal attire and I basically over exaggerated my so called christian faith to match whatever it was that they were talking about. Truthfully I had no idea about what they were talking about when they had said things like “surrender” and ” discern”. I was still that same four year old in my head..the kid sitting up at the front of the church not knowing what was going on.
After our visit I felt so dumb. I was uncomfortable with the fact that I had just faked my way through a dinner with other Christians I did not know well, and I felt ashamed for not being a carbon copy of these people. I was so wracked by the experience we never went back to this church. These people called us the following week and left a message to ask us if everything was okay because they hadn’t seen us on Sunday. I never called them back. Once I saw the woman in the grocery and I took off into another section of the store for fear of bumping in to her. It was quite ridiculous, my behaviour at the time, but now that I look back I totally understand why I felt so strange about those encounters. The truth of the matter was, even though this lady and her family ate up my fake Christianity like cake, God had not and He knew I had zero understanding of the Gospel message.
God knew that I didnt “surrender” to Him and that I didn’t actually know I could speak to Him candidly anytime I needed or wanted to. I did not realize that I didn’t have to wear fancy clothes to come for worship, or smear a fake smile across my lips and lie through my teeth about my belief in Him to those who asked. Most importantly He knew that I was hiding all of my muck behind these exterior things in order to please the people inside the church…..to fit in…to hide, and that I spent more time thinking about other people’s perception of me than how God might see me. He knew that I did not know anything about His character, or how Fatherly He truly was and that I had no idea that I hadn’t actually asked for forgiveness for my life spent apart from Him. I honestly thought that my upbringing, my little four year old self getting baptized and my occasional church attendance was good enough, that I was going to heaven and that I was saved.
I had never been presented with the gospel as an adult, although I knew the story and I understood that God created everything, I had never pondered my need for the Son, for Jesus Christ. I didn’t know that I had been making choices without God’s will and desire for my life in mind or that it was even important. I didn’t know that God knew me…..out of millions of His children. I didnt know that He loved me just the way I was, the unkept me, the one who had nasty thoughts in her brain from time to time, who swore and partied, who was impatient and mean, the uglier side of me, the human me. I didn’t know that He knew all there was to know about me and my life and that any pains and scars I had were in plain sight to Him. I didn’t know that He had the power to heal me, and make me whole. To fill a void I had in my life, a God sized void.
I didn’t know that He sent his son Jesus Christ to the cross to die for me…..for all of my secrets, for all of my bad behaviour, for all of my hidden scars. I didn’t know that Jesus Christ’s death was a washing sacrifice for me and my fellow people, to wash away those terrible things. I did not take notice of His willingness to forgive me, to love me and accept me for me. I didn’t know that if I only looked harder that I could be spared, and set apart, set aside in safety for Him and to be given a new heart with new desires. If I had known these things sooner I would not have been afraid to go to that woman’s house for lunch, and I wouldn’t have felt the urge to fret about my attire for Sunday service, or to ponder fruit baskets vs chocolate or whether my story about my childhood faith was sounding right, or if I was using words like “surrender” and ” discern” properly. I would have known that none of those things mattered and that the Lord loved me no matter if I was bad, or good…..I was still his child.
Maybe this is you my friend….Father knows you and He loves you. There really isn’t anything you could do to make Him not love you….He is your father too, just like He is mine. Dad’s don’t stop loving their kids, and even when our earthly father has failed us, our Heavenly Father is perfect and divine. He will never fail us because He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus Song