I’m posting an email that my husband sent to his sister this week, with his permission of course. It’s long but worth the read in my eyes. I didn’t want to change any of it or shorten it in any way because I didn’t want it to lose its authenticity. For me this is proof that God makes beautiful things out of the dust, He turns our test into our testimony and our burden into our blessings. I am extremely grateful for the tests my husband and i have faced and for the new and wonderful life it has given us. I am married to a man of God and will forever give thanks to my heavenly Father.
I often buy a lottery ticket just for the fun and excitement of it. After I see that none of my numbers match I take a look around my home and realize that I’ve already won.
Last Saturday I went to visit Justin. As I was traveling up highway 87 towards Fredricksburg I was just enjoying the peace and quiet of the road at 5:30 in the morning. No cars, no trucks, no radio, just a light fog on a nice cool morning. There is a hill that stands out as you are between Comfort and Fredricksburg that has a beautiful cross that is lit up. It’s all you can see at this time of the day because in the hill country there are not any street lights. My heart and mind immediately shifted to Jesus and my church. When I say church I do not mean castle hills first Baptist or any other building. I mean church as in the other godly people in my life. Anyway, the hill country roads are not straight, they go up, they go down, they take you left, they take you right. Sometimes you have to slow down because of the curves and hills. Sometimes you can increase your speed and sometimes you can set the cruise control and just enjoy the view.
So here is where God brought my heart out of chest and smacked me with the reality of His power and love. When I could first see the cross it was directly in the middle of my view and at such a distance that it was smaller than the fading moon. About a minute later it was all the way to the left of my view but it was bigger. The road twisted back and now it was larger and back into center of the view. From the time that I could see the cross until I passed it, about 30 minutes pass or 20 miles. The cross never stayed in the center of my view, the road twisted and turned, went up and down, and slowed and accelerated. Sometimes it was left, sometimes it was right. At first I tried to keep it in the center. I looked forward to staring at it directly, and having it front and center. However, the road never let that stay consistent. I had to turn. Soon, i found myself compromising and being OK with the cross just being in my windshield. After this as long as I knew it was there, I still thought about it. Then as I approached the hill that it was on, It disappears for a couple of seconds and then without notice it is right beside you. It is beautiful, powerful, and it towers above you. I was in awe, my heart was bleeding a godly love that I have missed and yearned for, for more than a year.
Its gone, you passed it, you look in your rear view mirror and watch it as it gets smaller and smaller. You get 20 minutes to appreciate the arrival of it, It takes 20 seconds to pass it and lose sight of it. Then you find yourself looking, hunting, and searching for it. Before long I was passed Fredricksburg and back onto the open hill country roads. Every once in a while there will be a random cross. Just a reminder of what you see on that Hill.
So here is my awakening:
1. I always try to keep the cross in the middle of my life but life’s road makes me turn right, left, up, down, speed up, slow down. Sometimes it allows me to put on cruise control and enjoy.
2. I allow for the compromise of letting it sway. I truly believe God made this path for me, but I missed the most important part.
I did not stop.
Why do we not stop when it is next to us. Why did I not stop, roll down my window, open my door and let it in. More importantly, why did I not stop, turn off the engine, get out of the car and climb that hill. I should have fallen to my knees and appreciated everything it stands for. Instead I keep driving. I watch as it disappears and then I then I find myself searching for another opportunity to see my God. The smaller crosses are still beautiful. They are still the reminder of the life that I want to follow. It weighed on me all day. After visiting with Justin I started my road trip back. All I could think of was that I could not wait to see that cross again. To open my heart to God and let him fill me with his love and guidance.
So here is where God rolled down my window.
I am passing back through Fredricksburg and now the count down is on. But guess what? You cannot see the cross on your way back. It’s not the same path. You cannot turn around and get the same experience. I should have stopped the first time. When I admitted this to myself, something powerful happened. My phone rang, it was a number that i did not recognize. My first thought was, great, work is calling. I answer and it was friend that I had met while attending Castle hills first Baptist church. Forrest, was calling me. I had never spoken to him on the phone. I had only had interaction with him at church. Where I put on my church clothes, church face and turned off who I actually am in real life. Now Forrest always struck me as someone like myself except he had the strength to not distort his feelings and thoughts just because he was at church. My girls love him, he is fun and always great with the kids. He is kind of a big kid himself. I admire that. I consider myself a big kid but I turn it off so I do not step on toes or make anyone feel uncomfortable. Or maybe I just lack the courage to be me. Forrest doesn’t though, and everyone gravitates towards him. I truly feel Forrest has a godly heart with a real spirit and God wants him to share it.
So back to the call. I will cut to the meat of the conversation and skip the friendly back and forth. Forrest has an idea for a new Sunday school class/bible study. Usually when I hear Sunday school/bible study, I feel two things. One, bible verses and long stories. Two, attendance not acceptance. By this I mean people show up because you are supposed to. They answer all questions with verses instead their own experiences. I immediately become deaf and dumb when this concept comes up. (dumber than normal) But Forrest had my ear – No agenda, no bible study, no curriculum. He wants to invite me because he thinks I am like him and would fit in to what he has envisioned. Now he could have just been selling me on the idea. He is a salesman, a very good one, but I am going to tell myself that he truly feels this way.
Now there is a place in church for studying the Bible but I think (my opinion only) that Forrest had an idea that there is a bigger place to live the bible. Here is what I take as the difference. We study the bible. We learn the verses. We answer any questions with questions and forget that God gives us a path and a life that is different from everybody else.
Forrest’s vision – Live the bible life. People being real, open and honest. I can finally take off my church face and put on the only identity that God gives me. Feel comfortable in my shoes, and not be ashamed of my sins. Now my church (not the building) can answer my question with their experiences not a bible verse that I do not understand. Do I love the bible? absolutely. Do I believe that it is important to study God’s word? Without a doubt. However, I find it more important to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus did not hang out with the righteous, he sought the sinners and non believers. He taught them to follow him. When someone wanted guidance Jesus did not tell them “John 3:16, there you go, now you are all better”. He said, follow me, here is my story, live it with me. Here is where my experience comes full circle. If you look into the path that Jesus walked, it was not straight. It had twist, turns, hills, and valleys. But when Jesus came to the cross, he stopped. After he stopped, our lives began. He gave his human life to save ours. He took more of a burden than anyone can ever imagine. I can never sacrifice what Jesus did. But I can stop the next time I see a cross on my path. Appreciate it, love it, and fall to my knees and thank God for all he has for me.
In His grip I stand,