I first met and fell in love with Jesus and God when I was about 6-7 years old. Though I was a quiet child, Sunday School was one place I was willing to walk to on my own - if need be. Back then, I don't recall being told about all of God's grace and mercy, and the full measure of love, healing, forgiveness and freedom that came through the cross, nor do I remember being told we, as God's children, have an enemy. I don't remember being told anything about the Holy Spirit, either...so when 'life' happened, it was explained to me through the understanding of the child I was, the understanding of those around me - who did not know the heart of God, or through media or ignorance or fear and so on.
As the years went by and life continued to happen, I remember praying at times, and trusting God...but when my parents separated, in my early teens, I stopped believing in His love. I blamed God for our family falling apart and I pretty much went on to blame Him for everything else in life - mine and that of others, again not knowing about the enemy and "man's" free will and ego. It wasn't until I was at breaking point, not wanting to live in a world without love anymore, at the age of 26, that I cried out to God, again - as a last hope. Suicide or God - that was my option. I had a daughter to care for, so that left God.
When I cried out to God at that time, my heart was opened to Him - broken, but open...and that gave Him access to me, again. (I was no longer keeping Him out.) He was then free to rescue me from my sorrows and, upon filling me with love and hope, set me on my feet and enable me to get up and live again...
When asked, I tell people that I was saved at the age of 26 (I am presently 49), even though I knew and accepted Jesus and God into my heart about 20 years earlier. I never felt the right to claim that I was a Christian since a child - until last night.
For the past 5 years or so, after 'this' 'that' and 'the other thing' happening in and out of church, I allowed my heart to harden. It's only been in recent weeks, where I've grown weary of not hearing God as clearly as I used to, that I've been seeking to be in intimate relationship with Him again.
Actually, I've probably been hardening my heart for a lot longer than that, but, basically, and to save you from an hour length blog and unnecessary explanations, about 5 years ago I got to a place where I had grown weary of doing good. I pushed on, trying to be a good girl and all that, and not once did I ever think God had left me or stopped loving me - in fact, I have known His grace and mercy in a grand way during that time - but I did put my Bible aside until I just couldn't be bothered picking it up. I did pull away from being committed to a church. I did grow bitter in many ways. I did stop hugging and loving and supporting as much as I used to. I did play with a lot of anger...and by hardening my heart, I couldn't hear God as clearly as I used to - for God is love and a hardened heart does not hear love so clearly, for it rarely wants anything to do with it. But enough. I didn't want the hard heart anymore. I want/ed God. I want/ed His Holy Spirit - and I reckoned giving up the hardness of my heart for a more intimate relationship, and a greater awareness of Them, was worth it. So I cried out again, and, again, God rescued me - from myself.
Last night, I was thanking God for the way He never left me during those 5 years, for being patient with me, for drawing me back to Himself, and for helping me soften my heart again. I am so grateful that I can hear Him more clearly now - and for the greater awareness I have of His Holy Spirit's presence in me and my life... While thanking Him and thinking about all this, and as I briefly thought about how I had been worried that I may have lost the Holy Spirit during my 5 years of deep hardening, and seeing how I had been a little clumsy in taking hold of forgiveness for those 5 years, He tenderly impressed upon my heart, "I never left you during your younger years, either..." and that instantly opened my heart to the fact that if He could love me through, and forgive me for, everything I did wrong between the age of 7 and 26, (things I committed while being His - fornication, adultery, abortion, so on and so forth), He could forgive me these past 5 years. It was a huge eye-opener. He forgave me 'all that'...so why wouldn't He forgive me 'all this'... I just hadn't really thought of myself as being His during those earlier years.
I find this revelation incredibly beautiful. Not just because it points out the fact that He's been with me all this time, through thick and thin, and had been willing to talk to me whenever my heart was soft enough to listen, but He delivered it to me at the end of this '5 years of sin' (as I call it :) ), to point out that He never leaves me, is always ready to forgive and to be intimate again, and He really does love. (All of us!) His love is amazing.
I hope I made that clear.
In other words, no matter how far you roam, or have roamed from God, He's there - with great mercy and grace, forgiveness and love, with no judgement, no hand ready to punish, with no condemnation, waiting for you to return...because you are His and He loves you with all that He is.
Intimacy with God is just one softened hardbeat away. :) xxxx