Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Vicious Cycle Of Remembering and Forgetting

With Palm Sunday just past, and Easter on it's way, let's give a big "HELLO!" to Holy Week!

I don't know about you, but especially in past years, I've had trouble actually getting much out of these times of year. Times like Holy Week and Advent were created for remembrance of this great thing the Father has done for us through his Son, yet many of us in America don't remember. We know the stories by heart, but they've stopped affecting our hearts. We remember times in our lives where we were so on fire for Jesus, but we can't seem to feel that anymore. He feels distant, past, not present as He should.
Does anyone else know what I'm talking about?
I imagine many of you do, for it's all part of the human cycle of remembering and forgetting.
We remember we are children of an eternal King, chosen by a limitless Father, saved by His perfect Son, Jesus, who is also our Brother. We are pumped! We are excited! Everything in our lives has purpose. Everyone we know is this beautiful creation with God's very breath within them. Every conversation we have, thing we do, and dream we have seems to center around this indescribable understanding.

And then we forget.
We let the lies of the world creep in on us.The doubts from our past whisper in our ears, telling us we aren't good enough. "You aren't worth it," they say. "Who would ever choose you? You are nothing more than the scum of the earth with no talent, wisdom, or love to offer anyone." We completely forget who we just realized we were. We forget our purpose.
To love and be loved by our Creator.
But along with forgetting our identity, we forget His.
By doubting our worth, we choose to believe what our imperfect society and peers say about us, putting our worth in their opinions rather than God's. Through this, our behavior says, "God, you were wrong in sending your Son to save me. I'm not worth it."

Now, stop for a moment and let that soak in.
While you're letting that settle and wondering if this is something new to mankind since our society has gotten so loud and opinionated, or if this is how it's always been, let me tell you a story.

There was once a man named Jesus. Jesus had a lot of people who loved Him and would follow His words to their death. But within those who followed him, He had twelve friends, and within the twelve there were three who were closest to Him. Among the three was one man. His name was Peter. Peter loved Jesus very much, and Jesus even told him that he would be the rock on which He built His church.
When betrayal entered the group, all of Jesus' friends fled, terrified of what would happen to them if they stayed with their Friend and Lord. All except for Peter, who followed Jesus at a distance, determined to stay with him even through this. But while he was watching and waiting for his Lord, someone came up to him and said, "Hey, you're one of Jesus' friends, aren't you?"
"No," he said. "I haven't the slightest clue what you're talking about. That's not me. That's some other Peter, but most definitely not me."

Okay, maybe that's not exactly how it went, but you get the idea. Peter, along with the rest of the disciples, completely forgot who he was. He forgot he was chosen. He forgot that he's so much more than this earthly body, this costume. He let fear enter his camp.
We try to justify fear, saying it keeps us safe. But it doesn't. Fear only makes us forget that we are already loved by our Father and the storm holds no threat over us.
Fear does not save. Fear only makes you forget what you already have.

I bring this up, because I felt myself slipping into this familiar rut of forgetting over the weekend. I spent a month feeling on top of the world! I had God on my side, and nothing could touch me. Ever.
But discouragement began to creep in, and I started measuring my worth based off what I could do. Again.

It was during that month of remembering who I was that I learned about this cycle and truly started to see it in my life as well as the lives of those around me. Remember, forget. Remember, forget.
Ironically enough, though, when you start to slip into that stage of forget, not only do you forget who you are, but you forget that this is a cycle!
It's so easy when you start to let the world dictate your worth to resent yourself for not feeling as free as you once did. You wonder what you did wrong to bring you to this low. You forget, then, that this is just a cycle.
Like any cycle, it will continue. You will remember again.

Whenever fear and doubt threaten to make you forget, stomp it out. Stand your ground and face that fear, saying, "Satan, you hold no power over me, for I am loved, chosen, and valued by my Father. And nothing will ever change that! Ever."
Do not allow fear to overtake you, dear ones. It holds no power over you.You are not alone. You have God on your side, and countless others, including Peter, who have all gone through this cycle of remembering and forgetting.

Keep your focus on the Lord. Even when you feel yourself forgetting, continue to dive deep into his everlasting love.
You will remember. I promise.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Blessings, Faith, and Childlike Wonder

Recently, I've been noticing a lot of the little blessings God has been putting in my life. When I say recently, I don't mean that they've only been recently, rather He's been giving me them forever, and I just failed to notice until recently.
Jesus once said that we must become like little children to see the kingdom of God. But what does that mean?
To be a like a child is to embrace the wonder of the world around you, seeing more with your heart than with your intellect. For isn't it true that Jesus' words speak to our hearts while our minds are still mulling over the confusing logic?

More often than not, our minds tell us that something can't work before we ever try it out ourselves. It renounces the dreams and longings of our hearts and tell us to "be realistic" and "think like an adult."
But what if I don't want to be realistic? What if being realistic and ignoring my heart's calling leaves me feeling empty? What if thinking like an adult is holding me back?
Just like our minds, more often than not, tell us to ignore our hearts and be realistic, more often than not, following your heart can lead you to see all the little blessings all around you.

I call them "little blessings," but in reality, they're not so little after all. They come from small things, but they blessings brought can be enormous!

As you probably know, my dream is to be an author. But this longing of my heart is so much deeper than that. I, like most readers, have experienced the profound connection between reader and writer, storyteller and listener. You have moments where you feel like they know you, like they're speaking right to you, or where you feel like you know them. It's amazing how you can have such a connection with someone you've never met through the gift of words.
All of these things are "small things." Words are a small thing. Books are a small thing. Even connection is a small thing. All of it adding to the small act of reading. It's small because it's singular. It's not something you do as a group, but by yourself in quiet solitude, yet the impact can be immense.
So, what is my dream? The longing of my heart?
My dream is to create something that makes those little connections with others.
Will I ever know if I have reached this? Probably not. But what I do know is the stories that impacted me the most were God inspired. God spoke to a simple man's creative heart and told him to write, and he wrote. (For more about how such simple obedience has effected me, go here).

Recently I have been to the Re:Write conference (another little blessing with a glorious outcome), where we were encouraged to see through the eyes of our heart. The eyes of wonder. The eyes of a child. We were told that writer's block is a lie. That's all it is. Simply a fear based lie that we aren't good enough, that we'll never be writers, and that no one will ever want to hear what we have to say.
We were told the best way to overcome the lie of writer's block is to turn away from what we think we know to embrace what really is. We had to shut down our intellect and connect to God, heart to hear, soul to soul, realizing that our fear and other's opinions do not define us, but He.
And He thinks our art is beautiful.
Why? Because it came from our hearts, which he created.

This understanding, a small thing, though missed by many, has been another amazing blessing. It, however, is not something I understand with my mind, for it goes against the logic this world has instilled there. This understand is one deep within my being.
Along with this understanding of who I am and who God is, came the acceptance of a simple fact: I might not get published.
Tell me that a month ago, and I'd have fought you. I'd have told you that I will, I have to. I need to reach people. I need to reach my dream, or my dream is worthless!
Today I will agree with you. I might not get published. I might not have my books on shelves where countless people can read and have a connection that only happens between storyteller and listener. But that's okay. Because I know it's not my job to get this out there. I know it's not my job to make connections, or even write beautifully. My job is simply to write. Why else would God have planted this longing within my heart?

Over the past week I have been reading a book called A.D. 30, about a woman from Arabia who has a life changing encounter with Jesus. I read a conversation last night that helped pull the swirling thoughts that became this post together. I felt like I should share it.
The conversation takes place between a man named Judah, a Jew from a nomadic tribe in the desert who comes to Israel to find the king his elders told him about, and a Pharisee, who is later revealed to be Nicodemus (the man Jesus taught about being born again in John 3). Here is a snippet of their interaction:

   The Pharisee spoke barely above a whisper now, as though afraid his words might carry beyond the walls. "With Yeshua, God seems so be intimate, as though breath itself. The rabbi calls him even Abba. And we his children, to be born not of Abraham but of Spirit. Such things are not spoken elsewhere. And yet he asks us to follow."
   "But to follow where?" Judah demanded.
   "This too is a mystery." The Pharisee sighed. "You must understand...to have faith is to let go of knowledge as the means to salvation. To do so, one must embrace trust and mystery rather than man knowledge one's god... It is not where that matters so much as simply following. Faith, you see? Trust, like a child. It confounds the mind."

So I, like a child, follow Him down a path that's destination is unknown to me. But He tells me it will be beautiful, and I believe Him.
For isn't that what faith is? To follow with simple trust like a child?
I have chosen not only to follow like a child, but to view God's creation (and my creation) with childlike wonder!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Help! Bandits!

I ran through the foggy night. My lungs burned, my legs ached, but I kept running. I had to. They were after me.
Foot steps thundered behind me and I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder to see how far away they were. Nearly tripping over my feet, I turned my eyes forward again. It didn't matter how far they were, all that mattered was I couldn't last forever. The thugs goaded and taunted me when they saw me stumble, but I ignored them. Let them waste their breath shouting, that would actually be better for me anyway!
Weaving in and out of trees, I attempted to lose them. Or at least slow them up. Anything would be better than where I was now. But fate had a way of taunting me.
Just then, I was out in the open. The forest had spit me out into a wide glen. I was exposed, with no cover except going back in the trees where my death was charging me down. I had no choice but to plunge into the fog. I was beginning to lose hope of ever finding a way out of this situation when I saw something through the fog.
It was a light!
The light burned away the fog around it to reveal a small cottage, resting in the center of the glen. I was saved!
Finding a new energy, I ran full tilt for the little house. I prayed desperately that someone, anyone, would be home. I was going so fast that I was almost unable to slow down before reaching the door. I tried the knob, but it wouldn't budge. Locked.


We all get into situations like this. Where life seems to be going any way but our own, where we feel trapped, endangered, anxious. It's just a part of life. But there's a right and a wrong way to respond in a situation like this.

My brother and I were talking the other day about where Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
But specifically we were talking about when life puts us in situations that require us to ask, seek, or knock. Even more specifically, we were talking about a friend of ours. For her confidentiality, we will call her Sabrina.
We talked at length about how Sabrina's faith has been wavering recently and what brought her to that place. We talked about how she has decided to live life on her own, by her own power, proclaiming that God didn't want to help her or could help her. Upon learning of these new convictions Sabrina had, my brother and I were greatly grieved. The girl who was once so on fire for God and ready to worship and share him wherever she went was gone. In her place is but a shadow of who she once was.
Anger, fear, and anxiety have replaced the joy, strength, and peace she once radiated.
My brother, wise as he is, brought up this piece of Scripture, saying, "She thinks God has abandoned her, but he's just waiting for her to trust him to have it under control, instead of fighting for it to go her way."
After several minutes of discussion about the passage, the image of the chase popped into my head.
"It's like being chased by bandits," I said, "and there's a home, a safe haven of sorts in the distance. But you find the door to be locked, and instead of knocking and trusting in the unknown possibility that someone who cares might actually be there to save you, you turn back and try to face the bandits on your own."

Imagine if the character in our story, after finding the door locked, decided to do just that. Tired and sore, alone and scared, he turned back to faced the numerous thugs that assailed him, saying to himself, "I have strength! I can do this. Who says I need some God  to save me. I don't need anything but my own will power! And who's to say there's a God anyway? I mean, if there was, why would there be thugs after me? Obviously this house, this offer of peace and joy is just to taunt me! I mean, it's locked after all. Why would a loving God offer this way out, if anyone couldn't just enter? Obviously there either isn't a God, or He isn't loving, because look at that! There's bandits!"

As silly as this argument sounds, these sorts of questions are asked every day by millions of people. Now, obviously, if you were in this situation in real life, you would pound on the door until your fists fell off, which, for the sake of my metaphor, is the exact reaction you should, but don't always, have spiritually.
I can't answer all of the questions posed, but I will debunk one.
The bandits are human.
Did you see that?
They're human! Just like you and me and the old lady in the supermarket and the President of the United States. Human.
Are humans God?
No. Even though we really would like to believe so sometimes.
As humans, we have God granted free will to do whatever we please. Now you could get mad at God for "letting" the bandits come after you, but then, if he were to remove their free will, he would also have to remove yours. Why? God loves all of us equally. He wouldn't give one special favor over the other. This same free will is what gives you the choice to pound your little heart out on the cottage door, or try to face the adversity on your own.

Now, because the bandits are human and they have free will, they are chasing you.
This brings us back to the question, why would a loving God allow us to be chased by bandits? And my honest answer is I don't know.

But I do know two things:
1) By using our free will to choose our own way instead of God's way, we decide to pretend we're God. We say, "I know what's best for me better than any unseen God ever could." We take matters into our own hands, and some of the choices we make lead us to be bandits.
2) God does love us.

Now you may be asking, "But, Miss Blogger-Chick, how can you possibly say that with certainty when you have no absolute facts?"
Oh, but I do.
How do I know? He provides us with an escape. An escape from the bandits that plague our lives, and the decisions we make that make us, too, bandits.
"How does choosing to rely on ourselves and face the bandits make us bandits? I don't get it."
Oh, I'm so glad you asked that! That is a great question.
What do you suppose the person in the story is going to do when he faces the bandits? Is he going to sit down with them and chat over their differences over a nice cup of tea (or coffee, if you prefer)? No, the bandits have already proved to be violent and bloodthirsty. So then the only way to face them by yourself is to sink to their level and also become violent and bloodthirsty.
Something we all have to realize, though, is that while God will always answer, His answer isn't always the answer we want. While we want judgment, God wants retribution. We can be pounding our fists bloody on that door, begging for God to smite the bandits with a thunderbolt, but He's not going to do it. Although you may not see it in the moment, His way is so much better.

Now before I continue our story, I want to bring something cool to your attention.
Remember that passage I brought up at the beginning of the post? Yes, I know I'm long winded and it was awhile ago, but I trust your memory.
Literally the day after my brother brought up that piece of Scripture, my daily bible-prayer time brought me to Matthew 7 where the passage resides. Now we could call this sweet irony or coincidence, but I like to believe it was God. Or better yet, maybe one of God's favorite ways to work are sweet irony and seeming coincidence?
Food for thought.

I tried the knob, but it wouldn't budge. Locked.
Frantically, I knocked on the door, glancing over my shoulder constantly. I looked away for only the briefest of moments when I heard a shout. I looked back to see one of the thugs standing at the edge of the cloud of fog, pointing at me and waving his buddies over. My heart sank.
"I can't do this." I whispered to myself in defeat, tears filling my eyes.
I rest my forehead against the door and my rapid pounding slowed to a rhythmic thunk, thunk, thunk. At every third pounding of my fist, I would lift my head from the door and let my forehead thud into it. With each thud, I repeated a silent, simple prayer.
Please, save me. Please, save me. Please, save me.
The third time I brought my head back to the door it didn't connect with solid wood, but something with a give to it. Something like flesh.

I pulled back and opened my eyes to find the chest of a man only inches from my face. I looked up to meet a face and eyes so kind and loving that time seemed to slow for a moment.
"Welcome home, child." He said to me, his voice as deep and gentle as the ocean on a calm day. "I've been waiting for you."

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Windows To the Soul - Why I Write (Part 2)

In part 1 (The Obedience of Sinful Man) I shared with you part of my story, as well as an example of how God used a man's simply obedience to touch my life.
I mentioned having made these connections during the Re:Write Conference that I recently returned from. Well, there was another connection I just made this morning, that I felt I should share.
Originally, this was all going to be one post, but I got on such a roll on the topic of obedience, that I had no choice but to split them up.

During the conference, I got the blessing of getting to have not one, but multiple conversations with the writer I mentioned in part 1. It was totally surreal. Not because he's sold millions of books, or even because of the huge impact his words have made on me, but because despite all that he was still human. In fact, he's just like me. He has doubts and struggles and highs and lows like the rest of us. But that's not surprising. In fact, I already knew that.
So what made the experience so surreal?
I got to meet someone who was really desperately trying to live the way Jesus commanded us all to. It was refreshing.

Earlier this week, I was on the phone with my fellow writer Elaine Mingus, sharing with her one of my favorite experiences of the whole conference. Specifically we were talking about this man and his unabashed way of sharing the truths God has been teaching him, even when he doesn't fully understand them yet as well as how understanding and accepting he is of people.
Elaine put it well when she said, "He's just so Jesus-y!"
And I realized that was the perfect way to describe it.
Don't get me wrong, he's no saint. I've heard much of his personal story. I've read of his selfishness and pride that brought him away from God in the past, of his hurts and how he's had to struggle to redefine God outside of the pain of his past. But he's let God change him to be more like His Son, and it shows!

Before I can tell you what happened, I must share with you a little something I found in my morning bible-prayer time.
I was reading Jesus's famous Sermon On the Mount, and I came across a intriguing little nugget buried in the middle. The sermon is a lengthy one, stretching over three chapters (Matthew 5-7) and covering a variety of topics, including murder, divorce, oaths, giving to the needy, prayer, and fasting.

In a section entitled "Treasures in Heaven," sandwiched between verses talking about keeping your focus on heavenly things, rather than earthly possessions and one talking about how you can't serve both God and money is the rarest little verse:
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness, If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:22-23)

I have read this sermon many times, as you probably have as well. Like me, you've probably looked over that verse as, "If I focus on what is good and holy (God), then I will be good. But if I give into my sinful nature, I will be full of darkness."
This is fine. It may even have been one of the intended meanings of what Jesus said. But the cool thing about Jesus is that his words transcend time. Meaning, even as you read them countless times, you can get something new and fresh out of it. I never had gotten anything new or fresh from this set of verses. Until today.

What if it could be taken backwards? Think about it.
It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul. So, if your eyes are good, and your body is "full of light," then wouldn't the reverse be true? If one's soul is full of light, meaning you are living like Jesus the best you can, then wouldn't you be able to see that in their eyes? They being the windows to the soul?
If A=B, then B=A. Right?
Simple comparison, but it makes my point.

Now, my question for you is, have you ever seen this? Have you ever seen someone who was so full of the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, that you could see it in their eyes?
You see, I wouldn't have been sure if I could answer this question a week and a half ago. In fact, I wouldn't have even made the connection between the verse and eyes being the windows to the soul before the conference. The only reason I did, is because I spoke with someone who demonstrated this. He wasn't trying. He wasn't putting on a show. He wasn't making himself seem good or holy or "more in tune with the Holy Spirit" than anyone else.
What he was was honest.
He was simply living his life and loving people the way he has learned to over years walking with Christ. And it showed! It definitely showed!

There was moment early on the first day where I went up to him to get the series I mentioned in part 1 signed. During which time, I felt compelled to tell him a little bit about where I was in my faith right then. I shared with him that though I have a solid foundation built right now, I have been struggling to connect with God on an emotional level due to the emotional disconnect I struggle with that I mentioned before. I told him how I miss the connection. To which he replied with, "My talk tonight is for you."

During his talk that night, he talked much about how everything we do flows out of who we think we are, how our experiences are largely influenced by our perception. He spoke of how we need to let go of out intellect, the part that puts God in a nice neat little box, before we can ever begin to see who he really is. He shared how only recently has he begun to really, truly believe that he is a child of the King. With dramatic gestures, he clutched his head, explaining that for years it was something he knew "up here," but only recently had begun to know it "down here," he said with his palms pressed into his chest.
He spoke of this and so much more. But what happened after I remember so much more clearly than what he spoke of.
I waited for the crowds of touched attendees and gawking fans to disperse, and I managed to approach him one-on-one (a rare thing indeed).
"You were right, I did need to hear that." I began.
He said gently, "I told you. I told you." His voice through the entire exchange remains how it generally does: gentle and understanding, like a father calmly guiding a child.
I told him that I needed to hear this as much tonight as I did a year ago (for this wasn't the first time he had spoken on a topic similar to this). Mimicking his gestures from before, I told him that I understand what he spoke on "up here," but I can't quite connect it "down here" yet.
Flustered, I was about to continue, when I finally met his gaze. While he had been holding eye contact the entire time, I let mine wander.

It's a funny thing, eye contact. Rarely do we hold it for any period of time. I believe there's a reason we don't. Like earlier mentioned, the eyes are the windows to the soul. Obviously sharing some part of you that's that deep can be scary. There have only been a few people I've known to hold long eye contact with me. While each time it's happened, the topic of discussion has been different, there was always one thing the same in each experience: they all wanted to connect and be open.

I've been telling people he "stopped" me before I could continue, which gives the idea that he said or did something to cause me to stop my rant before it had even begun. But that is not the case. All he did was look at me, with an expression that said, "Don't get flustered. I understand."
He took advantage of my momentary speechlessness to pull me into a big hug. "Shh," he calmed. "Don't think about it. It will come."
In that moment, I knew he was right. Of course, it's just what he said before. I need to let go of my intellect that tries to tell me how it should be, and be like a child again before God.

Quickly, before he could leave, I asked if he could pray over me. His prayer was simple. With hands on my shoulders and his eyes locked on mine, he just reminded me who I was and who God was. I can't remember his words, except how he ended it with, "Be healed, be healed." As if there wasn't anything simpler than that. Which I guess there isn't.
His words aren't what impacted me though. It was his eyes. For the first time, I held his gaze. It's amazing how much of a person's spirit you can see in their eyes. His were excited, almost like a child's, and so full of love and peace and joy. I could see the Spirit alive in him.
Before this I had never actually noticed anything like that that in someone's eyes before. Sure, I could see by the way they talk or act certain aspects of the Spirit in them, but I'd never seen it.
Maybe I just wasn't paying attention.
Maybe I wasn't looking close enough.
Whatever the case, I shall have to pay closer attention next time. And hold better eye contact, of course!

If you're interested in knowing more about what God's been teaching him and sharing with the world through his gift, click here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Obedience of Sinful Man - Why I Write (Part 1)

I recently returned from the 2015 Re:Write Conference, where I forged many new friendships and many great experiences. Most of all, I learned a lot about myself and my God. I learned how Yeshua can use the simple obedience of a sinful man to touch the lives and hearts of those he may or may not even know.

I could give many examples, for over the weekend I heard numerous analogies and personal stories. But today I will only share the story of only one man, who by following God's guidance, touched my life.
However, before I tell his story, I must share an analogy.

During the final talk on the last day, a pastor named Mark Bartterson (you probably know him as the author of The Circle Maker) told us about mustard seeds.
I'm sure we've all heard  the parable of the mustard seed. It's one of Jesus' shorter parables, found in Matthew 13-31-32, but it has a lot to it.

Mark told us that if we have been called to write, to not write is disobedience. But if you've ever done any writing, you know how hard it can be. It has been compared to bleeding on a page, and really no better comparison can be made. In writing, you put a part of yourself that even you barely understand out there for the world to trample. It's scary, but oh is it exhilarating! Too many of us, however, get stuck on the fear that we wont be able to write well, and that fear keeps us from writing.
This goes for anything God has called us to do. We let fear that we wont be "good enough" debilitate us.
Mark went on to tell us how our writing is like a mustard seed.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
"Why does a farmer plant a mustard seed?" Batterson asked. "Is it so it will grow branches and be able to bless other living creatures? No, chances are, the farm plants a mustard seed, because he wants mustard for his hot dogs!" In the same way our writing can be. We write because it allows us to express ourselves in the special and unique way God as gifted us to. We may also write because we want to inspire or touch others. Or maybe because we want to be a best seller someday! Whatever our reasons, God can make our simple obedience touch lives we never thought it could. All we have to do is plant the seed.

Now, about two decades ago, a man decided to obey God's calling to write. Like the farmer, he could not have imagined who he would touch with his simple obedience.
Two decades ago, I was a newborn. I hadn't learned to talk yet, let alone how to comprehend the wonders of our infinite Creator, yet He, in His great wisdom, called a man I didn't even know existed to begin telling about Him in the form of story.
 Ten years later, that man was inspired to tell about God in the form of an allegory that spanned over 1500 pages in the form of several books. Obedient, he wrote the story. As a ten-year-old, I still didn't know who this man was, let alone that God would later use his obedience to change my view of Him.
Flash forward to sophomore year of high school. This was a dark year for me. I had put my worth in the opinions of a friend, rather than in my loving heavenly Father. When this friend stabbed me in the back, my self-worth shattered. Feeling betrayed, I shut my emotions down. Without my ability to connect to other's emotionally, I grew very cynical.  My cynicism brought up countless questions on who I am and who God is. My view on him began to crumble and I soon descended into a pit of depression. What little faith I had was gone. I hated myself and wanted nothing to do with this so called "loving Creator" if He couldn't even make my life work. I began to view the bible as little more than fairy tales, for that's what they felt like to me.
Just before my sixteenth birthday, I followed my mom to a Christian bookstore where the cover of a book grabbed my attention. It's dark, abstract cover appealed to the taste for dark forms of art I had begun to discover. Oddly enough, I have never since seen the book with that specific cover. The cover I always see now is of the surface of an emerald green lake. If this was the cover I had seen on the shelf, I would not have looked at it. But that is not the case. God put something before me that would grab my limited attention and coax me to look farther.Turning the book over and reading the back, I was intrigued. I didn't, however, buy the book. Not then at least. I went to the library and found it there, where it had the familiar bright green cover I've come to know.

At first, I didn't see it for the allegory is was. It wasn't until halfway through the second book did I see it. God spoke to me through the images and stories and lives of these characters. He showed me it's connections to the gospel I had grown up hearing, and recently dismissed. He made it feel real again.If this man could be so influenced by God to write something this impacting, then God must be real!

This is not to say that I hold this man or his novels on the same or similar level that I hold Jesus and his gospel, but his obedience did make an impact on me. That impact lit my desire to search for God and who he is again, because for once I did feel loved.
Even though in that moment, I had not put all of this into a straight thought as I do here, I did realize the awesomeness of a God who can use something as small as a man's imperfect story to change the life of someone that man has never met.

This is but one story of obedience. It is I, now, who take up that same calling. Whether my books get published and impact others or not is not in my hands.
 It's in His.
All I must do is write.