An abandoned heart that desires true intimacy requires brokenness. The brokenness of surrendering all pride and self preservation and receives real forgiveness for our self centered beliefs. The brokenness that allows Him in to the degree that there is total submission to His divine will, outside of our preconceived notions of what He requires. He requires us!! Pure and simple. He just wants you!! No strings attached. Freedom!!
I endured the loss of family, church and friends. “Wow, Lord, did it take allowing my life to be turned upside down for you to get my attention?” That was it–my ‘Aha’ moment! I was so steeped in legalism, judgment and control of my own life and those around me that I would not ever had been prepared for the next chapter of my journey. Not without being stripped of all of my props and escape mechanisms. I would not have moved forward without walking through this kind of fire. I had been that extreme in my legalism. God had to remove everything from my life that I would have used as an anesthetic to escape my pain. How prideful was I?
“Hadn’t I given all of my life to be busy about the Lord’s business?” “Was He not grateful in the least for my years of sacrificial service to Him? “ Oh, how pitiful I was!! How blinded by my own selfishness!
Going through the empty nest syndrome in full force, I would sit in my apartment week after week wondering if my life would ever have meaning again. My whole family was gone. My church was gone, along with most of my friends and ministry partners. I would grieve on weekends because I would have no one to share my life with or go for a drive with me, eat with me, play with me. Springtime on the Central Coast of California is beautiful and there are some gorgeous drives. In years past our family used to go every spring to drive through the wildflowers when we could escape church activities. Now I had no one to be with and plenty of time. I felt so lonely and useless. I was in depression big time.
One day, I was gazing out the window and feeling sorry for myself because it was a beautiful day and I was alone. I dared to talk to Jesus. I asked Him if I would ever get to enjoy the outdoors again. I very clearly heard his still small voice say, “You can go with Me”. Confused, I said, “Where”? He said, “Why can’t you take me on a drive with you”? I was actually thinking of someone with skin on, but the thought was like a light slowly coming on in the darkness.
It was a novel idea, a ride in the country with Jesus. I grabbed my purse and sunglasses and off I went. To outsiders it looked like I was alone but His presence went with me from the moment we entered the car. Actually, His presence was with me all the time but that was the first time I really took notice because I was only focused on myself. That day was the beginning of a journey to the rest of my life. We went to a nearby quaint town and I bought chocolate, a good book and soft melodic music. I parked under a tree and read, talked to Jesus and ate chocolate. Once I sat on a park bench and was amazed that with just Him and I, there was freedom to make the choices as to what to do next for fun. It was real revelation to realize that I was so accustomed to being with people whenever I did something that I didn’t have a clue as to what I really wanted to do. I had to put some thought into it and make decisions about myself for the first time. With that came a greater revelation of my worth. With Jesus by my side I felt the acceptance and love. With that came the idea that I must be worth something. Yes, really worth doing whatever I wanted to do and I could be fun to hang with. Just ask Jesus!
From that day forward I began a relationship with Jesus that I had never known. After all those years of being in the building and in the “ministry”, touching lives for Him, leading worship, teaching and praying; in other words, doing good works, I hadn’t known Him in the intimate relationship that I was now developing while in my isolation. I was just a vessel that He could use to reach others. I needed Him to minister to me, too. I had kept myself above it thinking I had arrived. No pride there.
For the next five years I was sequestered away with my Lord. I didn’t feel the need to find a church and I didn’t listen to what people were saying to me—which was that I needed to be in a church. I knew I was learning something truly valuable and just wanted to bask in it a while. Somewhere towards the end of this time I met the man that I would eventually marry, though if I would have known that at the time I would have run for the hills. He moved into the apartment underneath me. I was determined that there was no way I would ever go through that kind of pain in a relationship again, assuming all relationships lead to pain. My pride kept saying that no one will hurt me again, ever!
Coming soon: Chapter Sixteen–FREEDOM EMERGES