Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Encouraging Words for Those Who Are Searching for Answers by Jaye Lewis

When I was a little girl I had a very big faith.   I loved Jesus with all my heart, and I was willing to fight for him and trust in his goodness.  I remember a church service in a cemetery, once, where the soil was so rocky, there was no where to kneel, so I knelt on rocks.  I was glad to do it.  Proud to do it.  And then it started to pour down rain.  In my passionate child’s heart, that made the service even better.  I loved God, and I wanted to serve Him.  That was my way.

As I grew older, especially after being ripped from my childhood home, and everything familiar and loved, that is when the doubts crept in.  How could God allow so much heartache in my life?  Why did my mother spiral down into depression, and later, manic depression?  Why was my father an alcoholic?  Why was my family so poor?  Why were the nuns, the priests, and children whom I did not know, so cruel?  Why did no one like me?  And why was I ridiculed because of my faith?

By the time I was fourteen, I began to doubt the very existence of God.  If there was a God (note how the word “if” crept in) why would He allow so much sorrow?  If there was a God, wouldn’t He have given me a good family?  If there was a God, did He love me?  And if He loved me, why did He not take me away from the people who on a day to day basis made my life miserable?

From doubt and “if,” I moved to certainty, then back to doubt and “if” again.  Then a strange revelation came my way, I began, at the age of fourteen, to read the Ethics of Aristotle.  It was there that I was introduced to logic.  Logic, said Aristotle, proved the existence of God.  Something, or Someone, came first, and that Something or Someone had to have created everything else.  That revelation impacted my life in a profound way.

Now, became the real journey.  Since there is a God, does He love me?  My father often said, “Why should He?”  Then, dear old Dad would launch into all the reasons why it was impossible for God to love me.  I was a little girl, barely in my teens, and I was offered no hope of God’s love.

When I arrived into adulthood, I still struggled with the question, does God love me?  Is there a reason why He could love me?  Was I lovable?  Was I forgettable?  And when I was taught in Sunday School that God loved me as my own father loved me, I thought I had found my answer.  No.  God didn’t love me, just as my father didn’t love me.  I was devastated and cast adrift.

However, instead of leaving me in the dark, God never let go of me.  When He seemed farthest away, as I’ve matured, I have found Him closest to me.  I only wish that I had clung to Him with a stubborn faith, instead of blaming Him for everything bad that ever happened to me.  Through the years — and I have lived quite a few — God has never left me, and He has told me about that whole father/Father confusion:

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Isaiah 49:15-16a NIV

So, though my mother accused me of incredibly awful things, whether she was in her right mind or not; though my father made it quite clear with his insults and cruelty that he did not love me; though my brother showed contempt for me, holding himself up as an example; whether my sister spread horrible lies about me; whether any of these things, and worse were said about me, God knew me, and He never forgot me.  I am so special to Him, that He engraved me on the palms of His hands.  God not only tells me that I am special, but He knows me, again I know this from His own words:

“You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.   You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue You, LORD, know it completely.”  Psalms 139:1-4 NIV

If only I had a Bible teacher when I was young.  If only I had been led to understand just how much God loves me.  However, I went to Catholic School, in the old Catholic Church, where we were taught that reading the Bible for oneself was dangerous.  We were not capable of understanding without the Church’s interpretation, we were told.  I hope that times have changed, and that Roman Catholic children today are taught of God’s love through His Word, the Bible.  Perhaps if more people had been taught about the love story between God and us, we would live in a different world.  God's love for us is the greatest love story of all time.

Searching for Miracles  by Jaye Lewis

Before God spoke the universe into existence He knew my name.

Before He created the atmosphere He held me in His heart.

Before He created the oceans, the land, the plants and creeping things He chose the color of my hair.

Before He created the animals and before He created the first man He loved me.

He placed within Adam’s body all of the DNA of every human being who would ever walk the earth, and within him he placed the color of my eyes.

Before He knit me together within my mother’s womb he cherished the sound of my laugh.

Before I shed my first tear he felt my pain.

Before my sins, my sorrow, and my stubborn disobedience, he chose to carry them to the Cross.  He hung there His blood pouring out for me.

Why he chose to do this I cannot comprehend.  God wanted me to be his own child.  How can that be?

With all of my flaws and character defects He wanted me to believe in Him, and He gave me the grace to believe in myself.

God loves me with a fire that can never be quenched.  I am special to him, even if I am not special to anyone else, including myself.

I have tried to perfect myself, and I have failed.

I have tried to believe the world’s message, but I have found no answers.

I have followed the paths forged by others only to find disaster at every bend in the road.
Only God has given me the answers that I have sought.  Peace.  Love.  Fulfillment.

The change in my life is not a complicated one.

It’s not about how good I am or how I pray or how often I go to church.  It’s not about money or fame or popularity.

I cannot speak for others.  They must decide for themselves.

I only know that the world has given me no happiness.

After searching my entire life, I have only been able to find the answers to my questions, on my knees at the foot of the Cross.

© Jaye Lewis, 2003

So, in spite of me, God pursued me, He caught me up in His arms, and He loves me.  God.  Jesus.  My Redeemer.  My Messiah.  And in this time of Advent, as we prepare for Christmas in so many secular ways, let us not forget to prepare for the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth.  Our lives may not be perfect.  We may be alone.  We may be surrounded by people who do not love us.  Our dreams may seem far away, but 2000 years ago God so loved the world, each of us, that He sent His One and Only Son who showed us how to live, and who died for our sins, that we may have eternal life and live with Him forever.  In this time of chaos, that is what I cling to.  If that is not an answer, then I don’t know what one is.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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