1988. A great year in many ways. Gorbachev initiated perestroika, Enzo Ferrari died at the age of 90, Sonny Bono entered politics (as mayor of Palm Springs), Bush defeated Dukakis, and I got “saved.” (Many more things, of course, happened that year; if you wish to, you can read about 1988 on WikiPedia).
So, though it didn’t make a blip in the news media, 1988 is the year that I got “saved.” Or came to faith, found Jesus if you will. Or did He find me? I’m confused.
Let me try again: since I believe in the sovereignty of God, I believe that 1988 is the year that God sovereignly elected for me to come to Him with my messed up life. He chose that I should choose to follow Jesus. Guess that makes me a “Cal-Minian.”
Anyway, initially it wasn’t about God at all (though looking back, I suppose “seeds” were planted)–it was about a girl. A girl who took time, showed interest, who cared about me. That she was a “Christian” didn’t matter–she was hot!
Would I go to church? Sure, as long as I got to sit next to her, I was all for it.
Interestingly enough, something happened. (And, no, I don’t mean that). 😉 I mean, somewhere in the midst of hanging out with my new friend, not only did I develop feelings for her, but somewhere along the way, God showed up, worked His way into my heart.
No one was more astonished than me.
So I prayed one May night 23 years ago, asking Jesus–if He was there–to come into my heart. Not the most faith-filled prayer, I know, but sincere. There were no lights in the sky, no audible voices, no “initial evidence” (that came later, when surrounded by sweaty middle-aged men in a prayer circle, who proceeded to lay hands on me, and pray that I receive the gift of tongues: “Brother Chad, do you feel anything?” “Not sure. What am I s’posed to feel?” “Don’t worry ’bout it–just start muttering, it’ll come”) the indwelling that night (for the record, I prayed in my car on the way to a party where I later got drunk).
But I noticed my attitude subtly changing, my speech changing, things changing. Not overnight, not right away, but over time.
In fact, things are still changing.
Because sanctification–the work of God to change my heart (and yours)–is a process. It’s His work, worked out in His way, and in His time.
Sometimes–ok, a lot of the time–this frustrates me (and my wife). But that’s ok, too: I think God wants me to wrestle with Him.
Oh, and by the way, that hot girl? Despite not being into “missionary dating,” after my profession of faith, we started dating. Later, we got engaged, subsequently married, have two wonderful children, and have been doing our thing for over twenty years now.
And because we are so different–different backgrounds, upbringing, outlook, etc.–we struggle at times. Sometimes we “wrestle” with each other–when we should be wrestling with God instead. But that’s ok, too, because His grace covers us.
Are you struggling in your life? In your marriage? In your walk with God? That’s ok–find a way to stay engaged with Him, ok?
In fact, I’d like to know: what do you do to stay engaged with God when: times are tough, doubt presses in, stress is taking its toll? What do you do?