My friend just kept pestering me! “Honey! I wish you would come! God has just changed my life so much! This Bible study I am going to is SO wonderful! The teacher is SO good! I wish you would come!”
“Yes, Bev, I know. God is good to me too. I was saved when I was 15. I know what you mean,” I spoke and lied through my teeth. She just didn’t understand. God had let me down years ago.
My brother had died at the age of 24. My little sister died at 19, leaving behind her 2 year old daughter. Deep inside, I knew I was wrong, but someone had to be held responsible. God took the blame. Bitterness built impenetrable walls around my spirit.
I did not want to go to any Bible study with a bunch of prim and proper churchy women that I didn’t know anything about. I went to church... sometimes. That was enough. I didn’t owe anything to God. We had an arrangement. I wouldn’t expect anything from Him, and He wouldn’t hurt me anymore.
Besides, I was so eaten up inside about things going on in my personal life. Everything seemed to be falling apart. For some reason, I couldn’t keep my emotions under control anymore. I cried ALL the time. Or if I wasn’t crying, I was trying to keep everyone from knowing anything was wrong. What was wrong with me? I NEVER CRY! At least, I never used to cry. I certainly didn’t want to get in a situation where I might get emotional around anyone. I hate it when people try to comfort me like they could possibly understand anything. Don’t hug me, don’t sympathize with me, don’t feel sorry for me. I’m OK.
Bev didn’t stop asking. She just kept on and on, like an alarm clock clanging its unwelcome wake up call. So finally, I said “Alright...OK.. I’ll go.” All the while thinking, “Oh my gosh! I KNOW I didn’t just agree to that... no way!”
Something in me gave way, and I went to the Bible study. I sat there.. Not saying anything to anyone. And the teacher, Mary, spoke. Telling us about Jonah in the belly of the whale, she caught my attention. She was not like anyone I had ever known before. No one ever talked about Jesus the way she did. There was nothing ‘prim and proper’ or ‘churchy’ about it. She just flat out was in love with Jesus! Every word from her mouth was like an arrow shot into my heart and the walls around my emotions began to crumble and fall. She was contagious! I had to confess, I was hooked. I went back the next week... and the next... and before I knew it I was sharing a little... opening up... telling them how miserable I was. Within a few weeks, I was praying, “Lord... please Lord, forgive me; and please Lord, please restore the joy of my salvation.”
Man! I had absolutely no idea what I had just asked for!
God answered that prayer immediately! It was as if He had just been waiting for me to pay enough attention to Him so that He could bless me. My life had just changed drastically and I didn’t even realize it yet.
Not really thinking about what I had prayed, I went to bed that night in an unusually peaceful state of mind.
Morning came. Dreaded morning. Take 4 Tylenol headache morning. Get up and put on my “face the world” armor morning. Go to work. Act like everything is fine. Morning. Just like every other morning before it.
Except when I woke up, I had a song going through my mind. It was a praise song that I had heard the day before. I got out of bed and began my morning routine.
Singing? Me? Looking in the bathroom mirror, I smiled. Waking my son for school, I laughed. Dancing around the kitchen, I began to really think I was losing it! By the time I was dressed for work, the realization hit me that “Hey! I’m in a good mood!” By the time I got in my car to drive to work, I knew in my spirit that the Lord had answered my prayer. This was no ordinary ‘good mood’. There was something different inside of me. Something fresh and new and alive! Something Joyful!
At work, I could not sit still. Making up any excuse to leave my office, I bounced around the building like a crazy person... my feet would not stay on the ground! Literally. Co-workers shook their heads, jokingly, wondering what in the world had happened that was so wonderful. Telling them, “Jesus is so good! He answered my prayer! He restored the joy of my salvation!” I got their response, “Oh.. That’s nice.”
That was almost six years ago.
I’m still bouncing.
God and I had a talk that morning on the way to work. I laughed and cried and He showed me how much He loved me. He filled me with purpose, and called me into discipleship and into a relationship I never knew could exist. Nothing could stop me from diving in!
Our ‘arrangement’ has changed. God has a call on my life. He expects things from me, and I expect things from Him. I act on faith, and He is Faithful. We love each other. Tears of joy are all I cry these days.