for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Childhood: Idealistic visions
As children, we all face the great wide world of life. It is full of terror as well as potential. Rather than accept the challenge, I turned a blind eye to it. I denied the reality before me and retreated into a mental realm of my own creation. I used definitions and images to weave new worlds. I refused to consider the future. I never dreamed about my ideal job or husband or house. I hid in my fantasies, constantly drifting into daydreams and writing stories. There were plains of quartz and fields of battle, hats of red and heroes in the sky. It was all magnificent and lovely... and imaginary.
I was not unfamiliar with the Bible in those days. I searched through it for books and verses to fuel my idealistic dream. I marked the pages of Ecclesiastes, circled names that I found interesting in Romans, and underlined references to the natural elements and their symbolism. I used the imagery as material for the construction of new chambers in my mental world. God forgive me that I used His words for my own selfish ambitions.
In order to rend the final separation between me and the world, I sought sorrow. Everybody else around me was out to eat, drink and enjoy life. But I wanted to live thoughtfully, quietly, and wisely. Unfortunately, my own world and definitions were far from true wisdom
High school freshman: Realistic confrontations
My dream couldn't last forever. In high school, I began to panic. I had lived too long in a fantasy and wouldn't bring myself out of it. Instead, I sought a means out of my situation. I decided to go overseas. I would either find wisdom and prove that my idealism was grounded, or else I would die in the process. I often thought about martyrdom, since I did not see how I could live in a world so corrupt. I would rather die for some cause than live a compromise. I spent the school year of 2000-2001 in Croatia.
Study in Croatia was not the adventure that I had painted in my mind. It did not kill me and it did not offer me some novel-like experience. All I found was the common, everyday life that I refused to face at home. Yet, it was even harder than that. I began to see just what blessings I had at home in my real life, a realization that hurt me greatly. Throughout my entire life, my family had shown me love and yet I lived in my own glass world, unaware and unthankful. I finally accepted the challenge to live, if only to repay my family with the thankful love that they deserved.
I was a different person after I returned home. I was thankful, cheerful, and enjoying myself. I watched popular movies, read comic books, and dated a guy from Massachusetts - all the kinds of things that people around me did. I found that I was too busy to read my Bible. I was having too much fun.
Return from Japan: Turning point
In 2005, the summer before my senior year of college, I found that I was not satisfied. Even after all of these fun activities, a year in Japan, and success in college, I felt that I was missing something. It weighed on me to the point that I started a new journal in order to identify the problem. One of these entries reflected on an incident that troubled me. That spring in Japan, I had been asked to participate in a survey. One of the questions was: "On a scale of 1-5, how important is religion to you?" While religion played no practical part in my life, I felt that it should be important to me, especially since my family is Christian and my father is a pastor. I answered 4; but my answer left me feeling slightly dishonest and uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, my Bible was waiting on the bookshelf. But I was both too complacent and too afraid to open it. I was complacent because as a pastor's daughter, I figured that I knew Biblical things well enough. Yet, at the same time, I was ashamed because I knew that I did not know much about the Scriptures at all. Stuck in the balance, I chose to ignore my Bible.
God continued to reach out to me in a number of ways through this time. A number of Sunday messages moved me deeply, but I was still too stuck in my self-confidence and fear to respond. Then, I found out that one of my favorite authors was a Christian and her story encouraged me greatly. Still, I did not change. Finally, something happened that marked a turning point: I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark. Strange, I know! But when I watched the movie, one of the scene's characters reminded me of King Solomon. After watching it, I found myself thinking, "I used to love King Solomon's writings. He was a wise and rich king. But, what period did he live in? How long were there Kings in Israel? I don't know anything about the man named Solomon. I should find out!" It was then that I took the Bible off of my bookshelf and started reading. I read I Kings.
It's so beautifully ironic that even though I used the writings of Solomon for my own idealistic creations for many years, God used Solomon to bring me back around again! Thank God for His beautiful mercy!
Well, after I finished I Kings, I found that I was hungry for more. I found the Bible to be a lot more interesting than I expected.
So I read II Kings.
And then Psalms.
The light was shining in. I wrote in my journal that I felt like I was nearly awaking from a sleep. I was reluctant to get up, but I felt that I would feel so much better when I did. I decided that I would devote the next year and a half (my time at graduate school) to earnestly seeking out the God of the Bible, the God of my family. I started reading the Old Testament together with my church with eagerness and then I read the Gospels to find Jesus. I wanted to know what it meant to "walk with God" and have fellowship with Him.
Fall 2006: Truth
In August, I was contemplating a number of verses that were weighing heavily upon me. First, I was stumbling over I Peter 2:24. I didn't see how my stupid little sins were bad enough to require God's Son to do such an intense thing. Then, I read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18. I realized that I was and had always been self-righteous, thinking that my own "goodness" was good enough for God. I repented in tears, finally accepting Romans 3:23: I am a sinner and have fallen short of the glory of God. I finally saw that I needed the grace of God, offered through His Son Jesus Christ. Since realizing this, I have been able to read His word for true understanding, and not just for knowledge. Since then, I have been able to learn what it means to have a relationship with God. Since then, I have been able to find victory in life and joy in hope. God has blessed me richly. He has saved me from my ignorance and fed me with His word!
During my year and a half at graduate school, I was able to study the Old Testament from Genesis to Job, along with the books of I, II, III and the Gospel of John, Jude, Jeremiah, Hosea, and Luke. In January, I found the prayer of Solomon in I Kings 8:57-58 and took it to heart.
May God incline our hearts to Him. I realized how I had served the god of self for so many years and how I still struggle with distractions. My prayer is that God will draw me nearer to Himself so I might worship Him and enjoy His fellowship.
May we walk in His commandments. As I am learning about God, I find that I long more and more to cleanse myself of unknown and known sins. I continue to struggle with my tendency to focus more on the image than the meaning and to put art before God, but I am growing. I still face fear and loneliness at times, but they do not rule over me like they used to. I am beginning to experience the fullness of the joy of the LORD, and casting off the empty feeling left by passing obsessions. I have found more beauty and art in God than I ever was able to conjure on my own. I pray that I might continue to be sanctified by His word and His spirit in order to be ready for His return. Amen!
Thank God for His amazing patience with me!
Thank God also for the rich loving-kindness which He has shown me by offering me righteous standing and hope through the sacrifice of His One and only Son Jesus Christ! It is so much more than I deserve or can even imagine.
He continued to search for me even when I was blind and searching for my own desires. As He has said in Luke 19:10, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. May God continue this good work which He has begun in me that I might be conformed to the beautiful image of His Son. Amen!