God was watching out for me long before I ever even knew He existed or that His love for me was unconditional. He was by my side even during those times I thought I was all alone. Those times that I thought no one could possibly understand what I was feeling or what I was going through, He was right there, understanding it all.
When I was confused and angry and upset over a recent breakup, He was there. When I was all alone walking down a dark, forest lined back road at 1:00 in the morning, cold and tired and scared, He was there. When I was broken and beaten down in the teenage section of the mental hospital, He was there. I may not have known Him on a personal level (yet), but He definitely knew me!
Then, when I was 17 years old my dad got extremely sick. Bad headaches and vomiting, he ended up in the hospital where they found an aneurysm in his brain. I found myself offering all kinds of deals to any god that would listen if my dad would just come home healed. I didn’t care who made it happen, I just wanted it to happen! Foolish praying…that’s what that was.
During one of these “deal making” prayers I realized that I didn’t really want to make a deal with just anyone. I needed someone I could trust. Someone who would watch over me and my family, protect us even when we didn’t know we needed protecting. Someone who would always work things out for the good, no matter what happened in the mean time. And I really didn’t want to make a deal. Deals are too easy to break and imply that I have anything of worth to offer. All I had to offer at the time was confusion and brokenness. There was only One who was offering me what I really needed. Only One who already loved me when I had nothing to offer.
Jesus went to the cross and died for us. Not because we had anything to offer Him, but because He was offering His love to us. Yes, He died for us because He loved us that much! That was the day I asked Jesus into my life, to be the hope and Savior of my life.
From that day on, my prayer changed from “I’ll do this, if….” to, God I trust you. I don’t know what is going to happen in the next few days. I don’t know if my dad is going to come home. But I do know that whatever happens, You are going to work it all out for good in the end. I only ask for strength and trust and You, for me and my family, to face whatever comes our way. Because we cannot face it without You.
My dad did not come home. He passed away in the hospital, not from the aneurysm, but from collapsed lungs. It was a hard time for my mom, my sisters, and my whole family. But my prayer never changed. Only His strength and His love could get us through that tough time and help us to see the good things that were to come. His plan for us is always good and prosperous. But without Him, we are not going to see that or have hope in that plan. (Jeremiah 29:11)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope – never forget that.”
And that Hope, it changes you. It changes your attitude, it changes your life. That’s what Jesus does. He takes the old you and makes you into someone new. He transformed me and I am not who I used to be. I used to be confused. I found peace from reading the Truth in His Word. I used to be afraid. His strength gave me confidence for the battles I face. I used to be timid. The proof of His love shown on the cross made me bold with my words.
But that is not the end. The day I was saved is not the end of this story, it is only the beginning….
Over the last 26 years I have made plenty of mistakes, there have been lots of difficult times, arguments and hurt feelings. I have needed Him just as much over the last few years than I did before I was saved. The story doesn’t end with salvation, that’s where it all starts.