AMAZING GRACE – GERRY’S STORY
I grew up in a Christian family and church has always been a part of my life. In Sunday School, I was taught about the Good Shepherd who bounced babies on his knees, searched for lost sheep like us, and died for our sins. Jesus seemed like a great guy, but I wasn’t so sure about his dad. I heard about God chasing Adam and Eve out of Eden, flooding earth to destroy wicked people, raining fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, other scary stories. I guess I couldn’t reconcile these contrasting images of God.
Since I always believed God existed and the Bible was truth, I realized I was going to hell if I didn’t accept Jesus as my saviour. But salvation to me wasn’t an exhilarating experience; it was a two-edged sword. I’d accept Jesus’ gift salvation (my get-out-of-hell card), but I thought God (the Father) demanded my servitude in return. So I committed to read my Bible, pray, go to church, and follow all the rules. I was afraid of Father, I didn’t trust him, and I was miserable! But at least I wasn’t going to hell.
I grew up, got married, had a family, and had most everything I thought was important. But I still had this picture of the Father; distant, stern, judgemental, and constantly disappointed in me. But I kept the deal, mostly. I took my family to church and was involved many church activities. I based my relationship with God on my performance, thinking He did the same. I thought I was fine because I wanted to believe the picture I had created, but I was actually depressed and driven to selfish behaviour trying to meet my own needs. Then came my reality check…
Our marriage crumbled, I lost what I most valued, and the thing I’d most feared came to fruition; I was a failure for all to see. I finally faced the deal I’d made with God. I did a terrible job of being in control, my best was not good enough, my relationship with God was empty. And at the bottom of my hole I looked up and I saw God reaching down! I acknowledged my failures, my selfishness, and I discovered his mercy and compassion in ways I’d never dreamed. He never condemned me or judged me. I was grateful to discover he had been misrepresented to me, that I had filtered his perfect nature through my own damaged nature, but I still didn’t believe, deep down inside, that the Father could really love a screw-up like me.
Over the course of time, I made a couple of friends who had something in common. They both were fond of saying, “I’m God’s favourite! God loves me best!” At first, I thought they were deluded but over time I realized they were sincere, they believed what they said with all their hearts. And I became jealous. I wanted to believe what they did. I wanted to believe that God the Father might actually love me! So I told God that I wanted whatever it was that my friends had.
And I did what I’d always done to get something from God; I performed. I went to all the right conferences, I read all the right books, I said all the right prayers, and I got… nothing! Well, I got a lot of great information. One of the critical pieces of information I got was at a conference. The speaker was teaching about the Father’s love when he referenced John 5:19, “Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” For the first time, I realized the Father behaved just like Jesus! And then the speaker read verse 22, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,” and I remembered that Jesus came to save, not condemn! That was good news and my head believed it, but my heart didn’t. So I gave up trying. I told God that I knew he wanted me to have the revelation of his love in my heart, and I wanted it, but I couldn’t make it happen. I told God that I was ready and waiting, and he knew where to find me when he was ready.
It’s funny, in a sad sort of way, how we keep trying to meet our own needs when we don’t believe we’re loved. More selfish choices led to another deep hole, and in another season of great despair and hopelessness, the light went on, I knew it in my heart, I knew it was truth, I knew that nothing I could do one way or the other could change it. I was loved! I was God’s first choice!! I was his favourite!!! His love had nothing to do with my performance and everything to do with his character. It finally wasn’t about who I was, it was about who God is, and he is love! Extravagant, outrageous, incredible, indescribable, unchanging, LOVE.
And now I know the truth; I AM GOD’S FAVOURITE!