Friday, March 3, 2017

Finding Jesus

We have a new home!

It's almost surreal to even type those words. It is something we have prayed about many, many times. I must admit, there were several times I even wondered if we would ever have our own home again. But in typical fashion, God came through for us in an unexpected way and we are in the home of our dreams. It is honestly the home we were searching for but never could find.

Searching for a new home is not unlike our journey before we are saved. Let me preface this post by saying I was "born and raised" in the church, as some might say. I grew up with my maternal and paternal grandfathers being ministers. My dad was a minister and several of my uncles. I have never not known that God loved me and Jesus died for me, however; I believe that we all have our moments of questioning who we are, who God is, if He exists at all, and ponder the meaning of life.

We all must get to the point where we believe it for ourselves because we have had an encounter with God. So in my own spiritual journey to find out if there is a God, I also wanted to know what He created me for. What is my purpose? Is there a plan for me somewhere that will just happen to me and I get NO say in it, or is there something more meaningful about this life and I am a part of making the decisions that shape my journey?

How is this similar to buying a home? I think it is closely related in that when one is looking to buy a home for the first time, or even the third time, there is an expectation. You know some of your requirements, some things that are deal breakers. You know where you are willing to compromise and most importantly what you are looking for. So you take your list of what you think your dream home would be like and you start searching. You compare every home you see to that list of your ideal home and if there are details about each home you look at that doesn't match up to your expectations, you cross that home off your list of possibilities and keep searching. Paul and I searched through countless homes. We dogeared the pages of countless Home Finder magazines. We scoured the Internet looking at homes online, always looking at the flooring, the number of rooms, the location, price point, wall color, layout and design of the interior, and whether or not there was a garage... and on and on... We always ended up feeling frustrated and at times we lost hope that we would ever find what we were looking for.

When we search out who God really is, and if He even exists at all, we can do the same thing. We have this idea of who God is. He is big and scary, or He is kind and loving. He is either ready to condemn and punish us for every wrong thing we ever did or will ever do; or we see God as a kind ruler of the universe, showing love, grace, and mercy. We look for Him in all kinds of places. We look for Him in those who call themselves Christians. Sometimes those Christians mess up because they are human after all and are not perfect, but we says things like, If that is what God is like I don't want any part of that! We might go to a church and if the songs are not to our liking, the preaching is "too cheerful and sweet" then we may have an opinion like one woman I heard talking, God wasn't in that church! They were just trying to serve themselves! Maybe the complaint was that the church was "too quiet" and the sermon is more like a poetry reading. I've heard opinions about that, too. Some of us searching for God are not really looking to find a church that preaches the Truth of God's Word, because it hurts when we look at our reflection in the mirror of God's Word and see that we aren't measuring up. We can storm out of there quickly and cross that location off the list.

Maybe we want small groups...or perhaps we are intimidated by churches with large congregations. We want to find God on our terms, right? It has to be in the setting we want it to be. But that is a pretty limited view of God. You see in Genesis 1:1 it says "In the beginning GOD...". Isn't that awesome? He was in the beginning. He started it all. So He can be found anywhere. Psalm 139:7-10 sums this up to say, "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me." 

He is everywhere! We can experience Him in the way the trees sway back and forth almost in worship to their Creator just before a rainstorm. We can feel Him in the blazing heat of the afternoon sun on a summer's day. The Bible says He made the stars and He knows them all by name! Psalm 147:4 We think we are so clever when we discover a new star or solar system and God is just breathing stars and naming them whenever He wants. He sees the whole of His creation and somewhere, very small in the grand scheme of things, you and I are strategically placed by the God of the universe in the very place we are today. He designed the birds to fly high above us and the Bible says that He feeds the sparrows and takes care of them, and yet He loves us even more than them! Matthew 10:29-31 We see His handiwork in the creation of the sea, the mountains, the air, the clouds, the dust.

So while you may have an idea in your mind of who God is, you just might find that who He really is will surprise you! We don't look just to Christians and churches for God, though, do we? No, we also look at the ugly, horrific, outrageous deeds of humanity and we wonder where God was. We suddenly entertain the idea that there is a God and think He should have stopped the evil in the world and leave only the good. We throw our fists in the air and declare, If God was real, He would never have allowed this to happen! Yet, we don't take the time to truly learn about Him at all.

When we find the home we have been dreaming of, we typically get a home inspection. Someone goes into the home, looks around, maybe gets under the crawl space, up into the attic, and looks at the house from every angle to let you know what flaws you might have overlooked or was unseen. We go to great lengths to find out all we can about the home and its' surroundings. We check out the neighborhood, fun places to hang out nearby, homeowner perks and amenities, but then we neglect to ask those important questions about our own salvation. There are blessings waiting for you! There is healing, hope, freedom, love, joy, peace, and great things waiting for you! It's all found in Him! Get to know the King of kings and Lord of lords. He wants to introduce Himself to you and I promise you will never be the same!

I asked God to reveal Himself to me if He indeed was real. I was in a stage of my life where I just wasn't sure about anything. I had read the Bible and had gone to church all of my life. I knew what the stories had said, I could quote numerous Bible verses and I sang many, many hymns and worship songs, but inside I was just not sure it was true. I had never truly experienced Him and could know for myself that He is real, so I asked Him to show me. I wasn't angry. I didn't threaten Him. I wasn't trying to be snide. I truly wanted to know if there was a God in Heaven.

My life was not free from tragedy and pain. I have some deep scars that I wasn't sure would ever heal. I was broken. I was sad. I was down in the bottom of a pit spiritually and I just needed to know if there really was anyone bigger than myself that thought I might be worth saving. And He showed up for me! He revealed Himself to me in a way that I cannot even describe. He answered questions that I didn't realize I was even searching for answers to. He comforted me from all the pain and sorrow and loss that no one but God even knew about. He touched my heart and the broken pieces all fell into place and I was healed. The heaviness lifted and the dark clouds parted. There was nothing but radiant light surrounding me and filling up my soul. He spoke to me in a language I could understand.

I was free. I had encountered God and I began to embrace the Word of God. I searched for Him and found Him in the pages of the great mysteries. He was there and I knew that He accepted me. I belonged to Him and I was free!

When my family and I toured this home, we just knew it was home. We all loved it. We all felt it. We knew this one was different. This time it was just the right home for us. It actually didn't even have all the things we wanted but even still it is perfect for us. It is our home and we knew God had His fingerprints all over this! And when you truly experience God and ask Him to meet you where you are, you will have that same feeling of knowing deep in your soul. You will not have to look to anyone to confirm it. You will know!

I love that God is so big and so powerful and yet the Bible says in Psalms 139:3 "Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways." He knows where I am going, when I rest, and He is familiar with everything about me. He knows me better than I know myself and He knows you that way too!

I learned that God is not sitting in heaven pulling spiritual strings connected to all of us. He isn't forcing us to live a life we don't want, but He is a planner. He thinks about the future and He has us in mind when He does. It's precious! Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you and expected end." Psalm 139:17 says "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!" Did you read that? He has MANY PRECIOUS THOUGHTS about YOU! You are on the mind of God and He wants to give you peace and not evil! He wants you to get the end that He is expecting for you! He wants to help you get all the blessings He has in reserve for you! He wants to bless and love you!

Since moving into this house, I am eager to get home. I want to be home. I want to spend time at home with my family. I am happy and feel at peace at home. That is how it is when I am in the presence of the LORD. I just want to know Him more. I want to spend more time with Him. I don't want to leave His presence. I want to read His Word until I fall asleep and then I want to hide those words in my heart! He is the first one that I talk to when I wake up and He is the last one that I talk to when I lay down. He is my everything. He is my provider! He is my healer! He is my reason for being on this earth and I want to tell the whole world about His goodness, His mercy, and His love!

It's a brand new year! Make this your best year ever by seeing how close you can get to the Master! Learn as much as you can about Him. Read the Bible and lose yourself in the scriptures. There is nothing more fulfilling in this life than learning that we are made by God and to love and serve Him all the days of our lives. He will never leave us. He will never abandon us. He will never forsake us. He will go with us every single step of the way this year. Hebrews 13:5 and Matthew 28:30

He wants this to be the best year of your life. God bless you!

~Bridgett Owens