Welcome to Chapter 1 of Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil. You can find the Prologue to this book, that I already published as part of Arise and Shine, here: Never Stop Praying. In it I share about when God first began to open my eyes, after a long Prodigal journey.
My father recorded the confession of my faith as a four year-old in his diary. I was overcome by my sin and wept in repentance, asking Jesus into my heart. It came out of the blue: my parents hadn’t prompted it in any way. For, just as with Peter, it was not my earthly parents who had called me, but my Heavenly Father:
Matthew 16:17 (ESV) And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
I remember those early days in Germany, as the eldest daughter of New Zealand missionaries, filled with love: with the life and presence of Jesus. Tragically, as a preteen and teen, who had returned to her country of birth, I began to believe the enemy’s accusations that God had abandoned me and someone I loved.
I saw no physical evidence that He had heard my repeated cries in prayer, as I thumbed the pages of His Word with tears streaming. So, trusting in the seen above the unseen, I began to turn away from Jesus, piece by piece. I stopped reading His Word and turned to sinful distractions to numb my pain, rather than persevering in the truth.
Even so, God’s Spirit poured out upon me at various times, leading me to repentance. I remember crying and crying, confessing one sin after another before God and others. But then, one day, I committed the sin of masturbation that I was too ashamed to confess to anyone.
From then on, I went through life believing that I was too far gone for God to save. In my early years as a Prodigal, I was even afraid that one day God would strike me with lightning and kill me. I was biding my time until He would get rid of me completely.
And yet, strangely, deep down there was also always this deep, deep yearning for someone to just reach out to me – to uncover my secret sin and bring me home. I even plucked up the courage to visit churches overseas, but each time walked away believing I didn’t matter enough to God for someone to reach out to me.
Then, one day, someone plucked up the courage to give me a book about Jesus. But at that point, all those years later, when I had given up on Christians, rather than it exciting me, it angered me. It made me feel unseen and like I was her little project. This, despite the sweet friendship that we had for the year she lived in the same town. Amazingly, as a returned Prodigal, I would later hear from her that I had been God’s gift to her in a really difficult year of her life, just as she had been to me.
What I now know looking back is that God wanted me to realize that the only One who truly sees me, loves me, knows me and has the power to save me is – Jesus. Now, I can look back and see that God in fact never ever left me.
His hands lovingly guided me, protected me and kept me all those years I believed He had abandoned me and was out to hurt me. Every place I moved to, He remained with me, surrounding me with people in whom I now recognize His love for me: including the young woman who gave me that book.
I will never forget those last few weeks with my Mum, as God opened my eyes to see Him for who He truly is. My Mum has left me a powerful legacy, not in her own strength and perfection, but in Christ’s perfecting work that I witnessed within her. The more her body wasted away, the more I could feel God’s Spirit upon her and present with us in a palpable way.
I was given the privilege of watching her humble herself before God and man. So many confessions of sin and weakness she shared in her final weeks with me return to me now at such perfect moments, leading me to repentance and encouraging me to continue boasting in my weakness.
Beautifully, during that time God answered the tear-filled prayers I had lifted up to Him as that little girl. More than twenty years later, my mother stretched out her hands in grace toward my little brother, and he responded in kind. I didn’t see that at the time, but I now know God wanted me to take notice and to deep down know that no prayer we lift up in Him ever goes unanswered.
My Savior is now giving me a hunger and thirst to know Him, as I seek His face. I wake up hearing Him call to me and He continually interrupts my plans to lead me into His. He is teaching me to slow, recognize and savor His Presence with me.
He is patiently leading me, piece by piece, to shed my pride, my striving and my worship of man for an intimate relationship with Him. Much repentance is flowing, as my heart aches to walk in His holy Way. I am slowly (re)awakening to the childlike awe and wonder of Him I had growing up as a little girl, before I let sin blind me to God’s love for me and others.
As I broke the first commandment:
Exodus 20:3 (NIV) “You shall have no other gods before me.
choosing to have other gods before the One True God, and as I broke the seventh commandment:
Exodus 20:14 (NIV) “You shall not commit adultery.
choosing to seek love and satisfaction outside of my union with Christ, the Son of God bore the wrath of God for me on the Cross.
Just as with Peter, as I turned away from my LORD and Savior, He turned toward me. Jesus did not look away from me in my sin, but looking straight into my guilty eyes with His pure and piercing eyes of love, He walked to the Cross to die for me. For, He did not want me to die and be eternally separated from Him and His love for me.
He longed for me to live – forever – with Him. And so, at the Cross, He clothed me in His righteousness in my unrighteousness, fulfilling the law for me:
Matthew 5:17 (ESV) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Romans 10:4 (ESV) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
He laid His life down at the Cross, that I might rise to new life in Him.
Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil
Do you remember the day you gave your heart to the LORD? Recall the joy of this day. Recall the Promise of this day.
Let’s ask the LORD to speak to us from the birthing of this joy in us and His Promise to us so long ago, as we read the Scripture below, aloud. What word or phrase lingers? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.
1 John 4:9-10 (ESV) In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.