I Will Be Found By You

Welcome! I am very excited that you have stopped by Great Is Your Faithfulness. Thank you so much! I know there are many loud voices calling for your attention these days. The online world has gotten very noisy and can be overwhelming. I pray this space will be one that whispers God’s unfailing love and never-ending mercy.

Do you believe God is at work around you today? How about inside you? For some, these may be very strange and disconcerting concepts. For others, sources of great comfort.

Personally, I have experienced God at work in and around me to varying degrees my whole life. Now, let me be clear. The reason I say “varying degrees” is not that God’s work has been inconsistent. No, but my awareness and willingness to join Him have varied in the extreme!

I was raised in the Church and knew and loved wonderful Christians. But for many years, my own desire to be monarch of myself battled daily with a faith that flickered and wavered. My longing to be accepted by my peers created terrible conflicts within me as my heart was always being wooed by my Heavenly Father who wanted all my love. My teen years were emotionally tumultuous as every summer I would recommit myself to walking with God only to be filled with shame at my failings within a few days of school resuming. Even as I attended a Christian university, daily internal battles were fought to decide who would sit on the throne of my heart.

The war finally reached its climax about two months into my second year of college. The double life I had led for so long: my stubborn refusal to allow God to have control of my life while professing to be a Christian and occasionally resolving to try harder, finally took its toll. I found myself spiritually isolated. The silence of Heaven was absolute. I prayed and could almost feel the prayers bouncing off the ceiling to hit me in the face. Though I could never imagine that God didn’t exist, I was sure that He had turned His back on me. Instead of falling to my knees in repentance, I decided I didn’t care. If He wanted to ignore me, I could do the same.

I was on the yearbook staff that year as Student Life editor. This section covered everything that wasn’t sports or academic. In October, one of the year’s biggest events, the Spiritual Life Retreat was approaching. This was always a very popular weekend – a chance to get up out of the Los Angeles heat and smog and enjoy a mountaintop camp in the forest. Really it was the perfect place for an Alaskan girl to feel at home.

But I had no intention of going. I was very angry at God and I was not going to pretend to be His friend any longer. It shouldn’t have been difficult to find another staff member to cover it. Yet suddenly everyone including the photographer were busy that weekend. It was my section and my responsibility. That was the only reason I grudgingly went, and I made sure God knew it! The photographer gave me a quick tutorial for his camera and I got on the bus, grumbling all the way. Not one of the many pictures I took that weekend were usable. It turns out that the yearbook was not the reason I was there.

The first night the speaker talked about a time that four men brought a bedridden friend to Jesus. They were so desperate to get to Him that they climbed onto the roof, dug through it and lowered their friend into the crowded room right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw the faith of these friends he not only healed the crippled man, He forgave his sins. The speaker wanted us to think of people we knew that we would “carry” to Jesus through prayer and witness. Then he told us to split into small groups to share and pray with each other.

My attitude was so foul by this time I am sure that my stubborn chin reached my assigned group several seconds before the rest of me. The three other people took turns and told who they felt God had laid on their heart. Then they all looked at me. I was through pretending.

“I couldn’t think of anyone I wanted to bring to Jesus and actually I am not even speaking to Him right now because I’ve prayed and prayed and He doesn’t listen and I don’t think He cares whether I follow Him or not!”

It was very quiet for a minute or two. Then one of the girls (who I barely knew) said:

“I think God wants to speak to you. I think you need to go talk to Him one more time. But first, we’re going to pray for you.”

They each prayed for me. I didn’t know the other two people at all. Then I took my Bible and went into the woods. I found a large boulder, sat down and prayed:

“God, I don’t know if You’re even listening. But I’m on my way out the door of this relationship and if You don’t speak to me now I won’t be back.”

Then I did the thing you are not supposed to do. Some call it Bible roulette. I had been warned as a child that you could end up thinking God wanted you to go out and hang yourself. It isn’t really a good idea, but I was desperate. I closed my eyes, opened my Bible, pointed my finger at the page, opened my eyes and read:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.

I had heard this verse before. In fact, growing up in AWANAs, I’d probably memorized it. But I had no idea what came next:

Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord. 

I could hardly breathe. The God who created and sustains the entire universe was reaching down to let me know He was there. He had never left, He had never stopped loving me. My stubborn desire to be in charge of my life had built a wall between us that I couldn’t see or hear over, but to Him it didn’t even exist.

I imagine a hamster deciding that she doesn’t like her caregiver anymore so she piles her wood shavings up so high she is in danger of suffocating while from above the barrier is insignificant.

God was promising to be found by me. Me, who had fussed and fumed at Him. Me, whose heart had been as contrary as the waves of Lake Galilee. I looked closer to see what I had missed. “When you seek Me with all your heart.” When I examined my heart honestly, I realized I had not been seeking Him, not really. I had been building a case so that I could do what I wanted. I would go off into the world that seemed so much more exciting than the protected, conservative one I had grown up in and I would be able to say that I had given God a chance, but He hadn’t shown up. That path was no longer an option. Now I could never say that God did not love me. I could never say that He didn’t have good plans for me – even me!  I could never say that He didn’t show up.

That day God took my stubborn heart that He had created and showed me how to be stubborn in my belief of Him, my trust in Him. The weeks and years that followed have sometimes shaken my life to its foundation. But that foundation has held firm. That foundation is God’s faithfulness. What I learned that day is still true everyday:

God is good. He loves me. He has good plans in store for me. I can trust Him. And so can you.

My goal for this blog is to share stories that display the faithfulness of God. I have experienced many things in my life that have cemented my faith. I will share them with you. But, I have also been hugely encouraged over the years by stories from the Bible and throughout history that show God at work redeeming people, drawing them back to Himself. Just as He did me. I’ll share those stories too. If you have a story that needs to be shared and would like to trust it to me, please contact me.

As the old song goes:

I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story, for some have never heard the message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.

I love to tell the story, twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

I Love to Tell the Story (excerpt)    Text By: Katherine Hankey

 

What Now?

Did God ever use a scripture to speak to you? In what ways have you experienced God drawing you to Himself? What keeps you from trusting God completely? Is there someone from history or today whose story you would like me to tell?