Romans 8:29-30 For those whom He foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined He also called, and those whom He called he also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.
For the first 30 years of my life I was lost. I want you to see me there, while I was lost. I was wandering the streets trying to find my home. I had no shoes, so the bottoms of my feet were caked with dirt and blood. My clothes were torn and tattered and could not keep my skin warm from the cold weather or shade me from the harsh sun. I was covered in mud, dirt and filth from the many places I laid my head.
My hair was tangled and messy, full of thorns and thickets, from the various fields I tried to rest in. I did not know my name or if I had even been given one. I was often called many names by others and I called myself many names in an effort to have an identity. I did not know who created me or why, I just knew that whoever did create me, seemed to have lost me in the very beginning. I was always hungry and aching deep inside for nourishment. The foods I could find were tasteless and empty, often giving me the feeling I had eaten without nourishing my body at all. I was thirsty from the moment I awoke each day but the water I was given left me thirstier still.
Occasionally, as I walked into a new place, I would think I found my home and a place to belong, with people to call my family. I would think I found a purpose for being alive. The longer I stayed in those places the uglier and scarier they became. Those places would drain me of all my value and worth, leaving me to feel worthless and alone.
Trying to leave these places seemed impossible. It was as if the moment I decided to call these places home, the veil was lifted, and the beauty of these places was revealed to be a lie. These places were swamps full of muck and filth, swallowing me alive. Mountains seemed to form all around me, towering up and blocking out the light of the sun. Many of the places I tried to live in, and then escape from, seemed so accepted by the world around me. There were so many people that seemed satisfied and happy living in the land of wealth and prosperity or in the sanctuary of marriage and family. There we so many people that seemed to thrive and find happiness in a world of sex and drugs, alcohol and pornography. All of these places were full of hope and joy until I resided there myself and discovered the lies.
Although I was lost and seeking a place to rest, all throughout the years of my life there was someone who seemed to be everywhere I went. He would find me lost and scared and lonely. He would offer me his home and a bed warmed by the fire. He would feed me a meal full of rich and nutritious food. He would give me a drink of fresh cold water. he would wash my clothes and brush my hair, removing all the tangles from it. He would always tell me a story about his family and tell me of all the other people who were lost like me once and were now found and had a place to belong. He always asked me if I wanted to stay there in that warm safe place with him. If I would just trust him and believe in him I could stay in that warm safe place forever. I would remember all of the awful places I had been and things I had seen. This place felt good and true. As soon as I felt strong and nourished from the care he gave me I would begin to wonder away and doubt his answer to my questions. I was sure I could find those answers out in the world if I just looked long enough and hard enough. I was often too proud to thank that man for his help so I would sneak out with a lie or in the darkness of night, hoping he would not notice I left. Every time I saw him, I accepted his generosity and hospitality and he never asked me why I left the time before. He never rejected me or scolded me. He just loved me as if I was a new person each time he saw me. I knew in my heart how I had treated him and always felt guilt and shame for not being honest and grateful towards him. But in my mind, his answer to my questions was just too simple to be true.
Finally, I found a place I thought was home. I stayed there for many years and built my home there. I called myself many names like mother, wife, daughter, smoker, drinker, lover, entertainer, friend, liar, manipulator, cheater, fighter, and so many more. At night I lay in bed feeling as lost as ever before, wondering why everyone else seemed happy there. The despair in me was so great I was sure it was the definition of who I was. The forever lost, forever seeking and never found. The mountains around me were greater than I had ever seen and the swamp was so deep I knew in my heart it was bottomless.
On July 11, 2010 that man found me there in the swamp. I was sinking below into the depths of the muck and filth and decided to quit fighting it. I was ready to die in that swamp, scared and alone I thought it was where I belonged. That man saw me dying in the swamp. He came running down the mountain to me. He climbed into the swamp; he wrapped his arms under my knees and behind my head. He lifted me out of the swamp and gently wiped the mud and muck from my eyes. He carried me over the mountains for miles into his home. He washed me with his own hands and dressed me in his own clothes. He fed me his only food and water. He held me tightly and I slept there in his arms, weary and broken. I was so ashamed that I had not seen who this man was the many times he helped me before. I was so guilty for not being thankful to him. He read to me each day and whispered to me at night while I slept. He sang beautiful songs of love to me while I wept and tended to my sores and wounds.
When he asked me if I would stay with him I cried out to him and said "YES! I will stay here forever because this is my home!" His soft and gentile lips pressed against my head and I could feel his tears dropping onto my face. He was weeping tears of joy that I could finally recognize him. He was my Father. I had not known him for so many years but He always knew me. He followed me and pursued me and stayed close to me so that when I would call out for him he was right there.
This is your Father too. He is our Father, our Savior, our Creator, He is Jesus Christ. I serve him in every possible way with every spare minute because I love Him. He loved me despite my continual rejection of who he was. I spend every day talking with Him and thanking Him and serving Him because without Him I would be dead.
When I sing songs of praise I lift my hands towards Him and close my eyes and see Him pulling me out of the swamp over and over. I feel His tears rolling down my head and His arms wrapped around me. I tell everyone I know about Him and what He did for me, because He is the greatest father anyone could ever know.
He is the Savior, He is the Redeemer, He is Jesus Christ. Today I stand before you, a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. A child of God, I belong to Him. If you do not belong to that family, my prayer is that you seek Him out and believe in Him. I pray you call him your father too. I pray you find that rest in the Lord that I did.
Peace and blessings-