May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. ~Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)
To many, the Bible is seen as a bunch of rules and regulations and the Christian life about following those rules and regulations. When in reality, the Bible is a description of who God is and what He desires to do for anyone who would believe Him. The Christian life is not about rules and regulations but about relationship with a loving and just God. God pursues man that He might give something to him which will fulfill and transform -- Himself.
I have known God since the age of 5, at which time I accepted the gift of redemption offered by Him through His Son. I have no memory of life without God. I memorized His Word, but did not always understand His Word. I desired to serve the Lord, but did not always know what that meant. I read God's Word but, when it came to meaning, I usually accepted the explanations of others.
I did have a relationship with God. I talked to Him. In so many ways, I trusted Him. He was everything to me, yet I did not realize that He was everything to me on my own terms. My life was about what I could give to Him, about doing for Him -- and then, due to illness, it came to the point that there was nothing I could do for Him. I had nothing to offer, no strength, no ability, nothing...and I was broken. Lonely. Scared. Confused. Disillusioned. I was filled with doubt, filled with questions. Who was this God who allowed extended times of physical, emotional and material loss without any sign of relief?
Like Jacob, I struggled with God. (Genesis 32:22-31) Though I was scared, confused and disillusioned, I kept crying out to God, kept holding on to Him. I began reading His Word to understand Him. Little by little, focus was shifted from my circumstances to the One who wanted me to know Him. The eyes of my heart were opened to the unseen, to the eternal. For the first time in my life I realized that I never had anything to offer God, there was nothing I could give to Him, nothing that He needed from me. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3 NIV)
As I adhered to God, as I sought Him as the only Source for life and godliness, my heart was truly ready for both fulfillment and transformation.
Part II will soon follow...