If you suddenly found yourself staring in the face of death would you be fearless? If you were on a sinking ship would you scream for help if you knew someone would hear you? What if someone held out a life preserver just as you were about to go down, would you yank your hand away and say “No thanks, I’d rather save myself.”
What if you no longer had any hope or felt unloved, would you turn away from someone who offered you the chance to be loved unconditionally? What if that person walked up to you, looked directly in your eyes and pleaded, “Please just stop for a minute and listen to me with an open heart. All I’m asking for is a chance to show you how much I care. I will always love you, even if you never change, but if you learn to trust me I will help you become exactly who you were meant to be. I am here for you so there is nothing more to ever fear.”
Would you shove them aside insisting that your life is perfect simply because you don’t want to risk believing them? Would you prefer to remain on your own so you can do whatever you wanted and hope for the best?
I’ve struggled most of my life with believing any such person or hope existed. Over and over people, books and churches tried to convince me I could find everything I could ever hope for by having a relationship with God, but I refused to hear it. I was adamant that He couldn’t possibly love ME or want the best for ME.
After taking an inventory of my life I came to the conclusion I could never be part of God’s plan. The movie of my existence that played continuously in my mind focused solely on:
All the times I’ve contemplated suicide because I was convinced there was no way out.
All the years I spent partying and thinking only of myself and where my next buzz would come from.
All the times I hated my body so much that I chose to cut it.
All the years I spent reading books trying find something — anything — other than God to fill the gaping hole in my soul.
All the lies I told about what I was doing and why in order to cover up my dysfunctional behavior.
All the times I yelled at God and blamed him for my illness and shortcomings.
I have always believed in God but that’s as far as it ever went. Pastors preached that He loved each one of us, but I was convinced all of that was a joke. Afterall, God would never feel that way about me because I was such a screw up who, no matter how hard I tried, kept failing Him.
When I seriously stopped to think about it, I didn’t really believe I would even get into heaven because I always assumed that as long as I tried to be a ‘good’ person I’d probably make it there. The problem was I hated myself so much I automatically assumed God did too. Where I’d spend eternity was always a big unknown. That’s wasn’t very encouraging.
Thanks to God’s grace in a pivotal moment several years ago, every single doubt about my final destination has been washed away.
How did I finally realize God loves me? Why do I believe He came here to earth to save me by dying for me? How do I know it’s personal? How do I know I have nothing to fear and that He’s got this?
I made the choice to ask Him for help and was willing to recognize the miracles when they happened.
The day I stood in my kitchen wanting desperately for it to be over, trembling with a knife in my hand and a voice in my head telling me to cut myself, He saved me with a perfectly timed phone call from a friend who said he felt the need to call me out of the blue.
The day I laid in bed trying to bury my body under a mountain of blankets to suffocate the voices screaming in my head, tossing and turning from days of no sleep, I finally called out to God to make it stop and give me peace. That was the first time I physically felt His presence holding me and comforting me as I drifted off to sleep.
The day I sat home alone curled up in a ball, convinced there was no longer a reason to live and a friend from church knocked on my door, assured me that everything would be ok and stayed with me until I believed her.
The day I was passed out unconscious, drugged from doctors over medicating me, in a bed in a psych ward as a male patient experiencing psychosis tried to hurt me, God jolted me out of my sleep and helped me get away.
The day I realized how lucky I am to have a husband who has stood by me every step of the way along with two incredible kids who never cease to amaze me, opened my eyes and took suicide off the table for me.
In every one of these moments it is absolutely clear to me that it was God’s hand protecting me.
However, the day that has affected my life most profoundly was when I completely gave up control, closed my eyes and pleaded, “God, I don’t know what I’m doing. I mess up constantly, even when I try not to. All I know for sure is that I am a sinner. A complete failure. I’m a wreck and I don’t want to be any longer. I need help because I can’t do it on my own. The fear and hopelessness and depression that is ruling my life is unbearable. Please help me to understand that because you died for me you really do love me. It’s so hard to comprehend. I want to believe it was personal and that you did it so I’d have nothing to fear, but God, I need your help. Please just help me to surrender.”
As I said those words with conviction I felt my heart soften and fill with peace. Not a peace that comes from knowing I would suddenly be ‘cured’ or that my life would now be pain free. It was an all encompassing peace that warmed my soul with the assurance that despite anything else I may face in this life, one day I will meet God face to face and He will greet me with open arms as I enter heaven where I will never again experience pain. My heart and soul knows that now, without a doubt, even though I continue to make mistakes. I can’t adequately explain it, but once I gave in and prayed sincerely, something profoundly shifted in me.
Now, when I find myself being pulled toward self destruction, I’m more likely to turn to God and when I do He always assures me that He’s got my back. We all have that opportunity, even if we think we are worthless and unlovable. Take it from me, if I can learn that God really does love me then anyone can. And the only way I can attest to that is because I let my guard down one day and took a leap of faith. There were lots of excuses I had for always being so stubborn despite the longing I felt deep in my heart, but once I started to speak to God the words flowed out of me. There was an undeniable connection that I felt which satisfied what had been missing for so long.
The world is a messed up, scary place. But you know what? I’m honestly not afraid anymore. I know this life is only temporary and I no longer have to live with my fingers crossed hoping I will one day be in a place called heaven. The best decision I ever made was to put my hope and faith in Jesus and since then the assurance that something so unbelievably perfect is waiting for me gives me indescribable peace.
I used to think people who shared these kinds of beliefs were crazy, until I finally stopped fighting it and experienced the peace for myself.
We all have a seat waiting for us in heaven. All of us, even total screw ups like me. Every single one of us has been invited to spend eternity in heaven but it is our choice whether or not to accept the invitation.
All He wants you to do is close your eyes and with the willingness of an open heart tell Him you know you need Him. Think about how amazing it will be when you can say that you know, without a doubt, that your eternity in heaven is sealed where you will be welcomed by your Creator with open arms. Give it a try. I promise you — because God has promised all of us — that it will be more amazing than anything our wildest dreams could ever hope for. Your personal invitation awaits. Are you ready to open up and accept it?