I stayed up till 4 am last night, which, granted, probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, but it was so worth it.
Taylor and I spent over an hour on the phone last night talking, and it was honestly one of the most eye-opening conversations I've had in a long time. During it, he really challenged me to dig into Scripture to deal with everything that's both in my past and going on right now. This has always been quite the struggle for me, as you can imagine. For quite some time, I'd wanted to start studying the Bible, but it just seems so huge that every time I wanted to start, I didn't know where to begin and ended up just giving up. But this conversation really convicted me to start. "Just start...it doesn't matter where you start, just ask God and He'll point to the right place." That's what Taylor told me. All that really mattered was that I start.
So I did. We had spoken about Job and his story during our conversation. I knew the basics of the story, but I wanted to see it start to finish, so I figured that would be as good of a place as any. Reading it....there just aren't words. (Okay, maybe there are words. You know me.) I saw so much of myself and my story in that book, it was like an episode of "THIS IS YOUR LIFE".
Of course, I'm not trying to compare my pain to what Job dealt with. Job lost a lot more than I ever have. But the emotions behind it, they're what stuck out to me. The feeling betrayed by God, the feeling abandoned, the wishing your life had never been created. I get it. You know. I went through all of those emotions. And I had the hoards of people, sometimes well-meaning people but sometimes not, trying to tell me that if I just prayed harder or if I just trusted God more then everything would work out. The people that meant well, I don't think they realized that they always left me walking away feeling nothing more than this is all my fault.
Even more than all of that though, what really hit me like a ton of bricks was the ending, after God has begun to remind Job of all the power that He holds, power Job will never be able to comprehend. He's essentially asking Job why he couldn't trust a God who takes care of every possible detail, who manages to do what humans never could. And what does Job do? Instead of making excuses for himself, or shifting the blame onto someone else, or trying to justify his sinful actions, Job responded "I am unworthy - how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer - twice, but I will say no more." (40:4-5) He didn't try to sweep it all under the rug. He swallowed his pride and said "You know what, Lord? You're right. I messed up. I'm sorry." As the author notes in my Bible say "The only way to know the freedom of forgiveness is to first be willing to confess your sin."
I screwed up. I think part of human nature is that we all hate to admit that we're wrong. I know that I hate to admit it. But I screwed up big time in my relationship with God. It wasn't His job to prove to me He was trustworthy. It was my job to prove to Him that I believed in Him. And I failed. Like Job, I cursed Him when I felt abandoned. And while it might feel good when I'm with people I know to let them say "Well, we can't blame you for reacting the way you did! You're only human, and you handled it better than I would have!" that's nothing more than letting my stupid pride get in the way. I could've done better, and I failed.
The most beautiful part of it all, though, wasn't Job admitting to his mistakes. It was when God erased those sins from His memory as if they had never even taken place. And not only that, in Job's new life, he was blessed with twice what he had had the first time. God rewarded his confession of sins with more than he had owned to begin with. As I reached the end of this book, I was face with a feeling that was simultaneously indescribably freeing and heavily convicting.
This is the kind of love I've felt from Matt for a long time, even when I didn't know God. He showed me the grace to forgive me for all the times that I treated him poorly, but I didn't want to accept it from him, either. I kept apologizing for things he told me I didn't need to apologize for anymore. And God loves me infinitely more than Matt or anyone else ever could...how it must hurt God's heart to watch me push away the grace He has been trying to give me! I'm sitting here beating myself up for sins that He doesn't even pay attention to, and this has been going on for years! Was I scared of something, or was I just too caught up in feeling like I didn't deserve it? I'll never be able to deserve His grace - that's why it's grace.
I have to change. There's no other choice at this point. I have to start accepting the grace He's been trying so hard to give me. I owe Him that much. I can't change the past, because what's done is done. What I can do, however, is make the choice to accept the life-changing, overwhelming, unmatched-in-its-beauty, God-given grace that has been waiting for me. That grace, a gift from only God Himself, is what will change my future.