Monday, January 9, 2012

Selection from "Who's Got God?"

Twelve years ago as my colleague Jordan Adams and I traded deep, lengthy emails back and forth, I never imagined I would one day collect them into a book. I think I've become a much better writer than I was then, and if I was writing these today I would approach the task much differently. When I seriously began to put these letters together, though, I made a commitment not to change a single word in any way, other than to correct misspellings and obvious mistakes of grammar. It was very important to me to present our words honestly and accurately. 

What I'm proud of, however, is that while I may have changed my style of writing, I would change very little (almost nothing, actually) of the substance of what I wrote. I've been through a lot since the days when we wrote our letters, many highs and many lows, but after all that I still believe that "on the third day, He rose again."

Without further ado, a true story of my first profound spiritual experience--the first time I heard God speak directly to my heart. 
From Who's Got God? pp.136-137:

October 15, 2001
Subject: The essence of your suggestion.

Jordan, you said you couldn’t be more sure that the whole thing was a crock.
Well, I couldn’t be more sure that it’s not, because of the experiences
I’ve had in my life as a result of making this choice, day by day
(and also because of the experiences I’ve had when I do not make the
choice).


One day when I was about eighteen or nineteen, I was feeling
adrift at sea with my life. I was going through one of the many crises, as
we all do, of “What am I going to do with my life?” I had just rediscovered
God and knew that there was something He had
created me for and put me here to do. But at this particular moment in
my life I had absolutely no idea what it was, and I was in a deep depression
over it.


As I sat on the couchbed in the room
I was using while staying at my mom’s house (this was during a holiday
time and the dorms were closed) I closed my eyes and began to pray
and ask God for help. I imagined a box, suspended and slowly spinning,
inside my chest. Inside that box, I asked God to place what it was He
wanted from me. I told Him I was going to count to three and open
the box. I slowly started counting in my head, imagining this spinning,
floating box, and part of me thought to myself “This is so lame. What
are you doing? You expect God to jump out of this imaginary box and
tell you What To Do With Your Life? Sigh.” But I ignored the voice
and went on counting anyway.


As I got to three and opened the box in
my mind, something happened to me totally unexpected and without
my bidding or unconscious psychological projection. The box melted
away and three words flew confidently and boldly out—big, bold, glowing
words all in caps. Three words that literally changed my life. They
were:


SEARCH FOR ME


I cannot describe how I knew this, but I knew-that-I-knew that these
words had come from Outside me. They completely surprised me—
floored me even—and hot tears of what, I don’t know—thankfulness,
awe, inspiration, something!—poured down my cheeks. It was the first
spiritual experience I had ever had, and still the most intense. It contin-
ues to guide me to this day.


Since that time, I have become convinced
that the One who gave me those words was the God who is described—
not totally explained, but described and revealed—in the Bible and by
Jesus. As I have drawn closer to this God, I have seen and experienced
many wonderful things. I have been instantaneously healed of a physical
affliction (no, not at some ridiculous faith-healing convention but in
the privacy of my bedroom) which has never recurred to this day [Author's
Note--and still hasn't more than 10 years later], I have
received specific and real answers to prayer (stuff like the exact amount
of money I desperately needed arriving at my doorstep totally unexpected
by me, or struggling mightily with a specific issue or doubt or
depression only to have my pastor speak a message on that exact subject
the next day, etc.), I have seen others be blessed in the same way, and
most important I have been given (and I use the words ‘been given’ very
deliberately) a sense of peace, purpose, and “blessed assurance” in the
reality, the actual nuts-and-bolts reality, of this God I have been striving
to draw near to.


This is not to say I have become a saint since that day. Far from it. Since
then, I have done some horrible deeds, thought some ugly thoughts.
And I don’t say that in a romantic sense, as if to put myself on a higher
pedestal by showing how humble I am. There are some truly evil things
about me, some disgustingly black corners of my soul. I am a sinner, in
the fullest and nastiest and messiest sense of the word. I think if you’re
honest about yourself, Jordan, you too would agree with this about
your own life.


But this also confirms my belief in the God I worship
and love! Because the depths of ugliness I surprise myself with…he’s
already told me about in the Bible. He already knew it! And I have also
experienced the incredible grace and completely unmerited forgiveness
that He offers, and that I read about in the Bible. I’ve said this so many
times in my conversations with God: “God, I don’t know how or why
you do it. If I were you and saw me acting and thinking the way I do,
I would have vaporized me in a flash of totally justified anger LONG
ago! WHY in the world do you love me?!?”


Knowing the ugly part of
my self, and knowing that God loves me anyway, never tires of forgiving
me and always ecstatically welcomes me back into His presence, knowing
that He even DIED for me...while I was rejecting Him!..., makes me
literally fall on my knees in humble gratitude and unexclaimable adoration.
Paul’s letter to the Romans (5:7-8): “Very rarely will anyone die for
a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare
to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were
still sinners, Christ died for us!”


To this I can only be speechless.

Shalom,
Jeremy

4 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed that part in the book, so amazing. I loved the whole book, I'm going through it for a second time now. I really, really love it!
    -Jess

    ReplyDelete
  2. I watched on the national geographic channel a program called 7 signs of the apocalypse and I was like “how the hell is god supposed to be merciful? ?? THIS is merciful? Basically wiping out the world??? What about his followers? He's going to make them suffer all that??? I grew up in a christian family and the religion was basically forced on my siblings and me. I read the bible alot even though I didn't belove. And I still don't. Well, not really. I just don't know. The thought of god has been constantly on my mind for the last few days. I feel if I don't start believing im going to end up in hell. But if he's not real i'll end up being tricked. I've always had major trust issues due to childhood trauma. Since this is anonymous, i'll openly say it was child sexual abuse and severe bullying. I almost commuted suicide at 14 years old. Strange thing though, I was about to slit my throat, but something I couldn't see grabbed my wrist. I struggled to free my wrist in panic because who wouldn't be freaked out if their wrist was held by an invisible force. It was very strong but gentle. It even felt like a hand. The unknown savior squeezed my wrist lightly, enough to make me drop the knife. And then it was just gone. I ran to my room and hid under the covers (lol) I never attempted ending my life again. But still I wonder, what could that have been besides an angel? I just don't know.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I opoligize lol im the one who writhe the last comment and i made a typo. I meant BELIEVE not BELOVE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whether it was the hand of God, an angel, your own instinct of self-preservation, or a small bit of hope that was left in you, God was in it somehow and I'm glad you're still around to testify. You have a remarkable story of survival and I hope you have the opportunity to share it with others!

      As for your doubts about God and hell and suffering, I might suggest reading Rob Bell's book Love Wins. I think it will help you a lot in regards to these feelings. I gave my thoughts on the book here on my blog at http://www.skbeliever.com/2011/06/review-love-wins.html.

      Finally, I would take any "bible programs" that you see on National Geographic, History Channel, or any of those other cable channels with HUGE grains of salt. They are almost never worth taking the time to watch, since they're more concerned with ratings and controversy than actual truth-finding.

      Grace and blessings to you, and thanks for writing about your story!

      Delete