Friday, January 1, 2010

10 Years Ago Today

Ten years ago I was sick…well, hung-over.  I had graduated high school the previous May.  Many of my friends had went away to college—I had chose to pursue a degree at a local junior college.  For New Year’s Eve many of my friends had came back and we went out to “celebrate” the New Year.  I had fun, but it felt empty.  I was beginning to realize the emptiness of the life I was pursuing. 

Ten years ago today I prayed a desperate prayer.  I do not remember the exact words that I prayed; I only know it was desperate and something similar to “I don’t want this life anymore".  I was beginning (but not fully) understanding my deep need for grace.  I was desperate for God to fill the emptiness in my heart, redeem my life, fulfill the deep longings of my heart, and to change me.  Consider this and see the beauty of redemption. 

Ten Years Ago I was:

  • Lonely.  I deeply desired a relationship with a significant other, but continued striking out.  On January 1, 2000 I was looking for love and beginning to give up hope of ever finding it (her). 
  • Deeply depressed and controlled by a strong desire to “fit in”.  My life was controlled by fear.  I knew that at any moment I would be exposed by all of my friends for the loser that I really was.  I was always trying to be somebody I was not.  On January 1, 2000 I was deeply depressed and looking everywhere to find some sense of meaning, purpose, and a place to belong.
  • Trapped with no idea what to do with my life.  I had already changed my major 3-4 times in the first semester (which is typical).  Did I want to be an elementary school teacher, a P.E. coach, a history teacher?  I certainly did not want to be where I was.  On January 1 2000, I had little hope of not simply wasting my life. 
  • Guilty.  I had messed up big time in many things and I knew it.  I only new God from a distance but I did know enough to know that I had done things that were not holy.  I had no idea how far away my heart actually was (and sadly still can be).  On January 1, 2000 I was guilty before a holy God and I felt it. 
  • Lost; that sums it up perfectly.  I was miserable.  I am not certain if I was actually in a relationship with God or not at this time.  I might have been living in a ton of rebellion, because I felt deep conviction.  Whether I was actually “lost” or not I am not sure—but I certainly felt like it. 

Today I am:

  • Happily married to my wife of 5 (almost 6) years.  She is the one that my heart was longing for on January 1, 2000.  On May 15, 2004 God provided the permanent solution to my loneliness.  Apart from Christ, my wife is the greatest blessing that the Lord has given me in the last 10 years.  The Lord has used her to mold me and shape me.  But more than that the Lord has used her to deeply love me.  I am deeply love my wife and I know without a shadow of a doubt that she deeply loves me.
  • Enjoying be a father.  I have a two year old little boy.  On January 1, 2000 I was still working through my own wounds.  Today, those are healed and I am a father to an amazing son. 
  • Satisfied in my life.  I do not mean satisfied as in “this will do” but satisfied as in I do not have a residing emptiness.  This does not come from my life situation.  I was financially strapped on January 1, 2000 and I am just as much on January 1, 2010.  My clothes aren’t better.  I might have less friends.  Worldly speaking I do not have that much.  But I have Christ and that is all that I need.  He has fulfilled my every longing.  He is my place to belong.  Furthermore,
  • I am an associate pastor at a church in Indiana.  There was no way on January 1, 2000 that I thought I would be preaching the gospel in Indiana and attending a seminary.  Not only are my brothers and sisters in Christ my “vocation”, they are also my friends and my family—they are my place of belonging. 
  • I am forgiven.  The Lord has redeemed me.  Only those close to me know how deep my redemption has been.  My heart has changed.  My desires have changed.  How I spend my time has changed.  Everything really is different. 

One story stands out in my mind as a picture of redemption.  Shortly after coming to Christ on January 1, 2000 I began working with youth at the Baptist church in my hometown.  It was probably more for me than for them—but the Lord has used it tremendously.  On one occasion I was sharing with the students about my past.  I had photocopied a journal entry to share with them, so they could see my frame of mind before Christ.  I ignorantly left the master copy on our coffee table at home.  My mother saw it and became very nervous that I had left to commit suicide.  That is how depressed and lost my heart was.  Today I write about the glories of Christ and the joy of salvation. 

God truly does redeem—I am evidence of that.  On January 1, 2010 I want to say thank you that the Lord has redeemed me.  And I want to pray that the Lord might redeem me further still.  If you are reading this on January 1, 2010 and if you are hung-over like I was on January 1, 2000 know that God redeems.  If you feel the emptiness of a life wasted on January 1, 2010 know that God can restore all things. 

Only one life twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

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