This is "my story" in condensed form.
My father was killed in a car accident when I was five years old. I actually don't remember him other than bits and pieces. What I do remember is more like moments in time. According to those who knew him, I was daddy's little girl- his princess. I wish I remembered his embrace or the love and security I am sure that I felt when I climbed into his lap. In a few months it will be 40 years since he's gone to be with the Lord.
Losing my father at such an early age left a very large whole in my life. My mother would find it difficult to handle the tragedy, but she would do the best she could to raise me and my younger sister and brother. Our life wasn't ideal and there were times that I felt like I had to be the mom and care for my siblings. I was required to grow up fast.
The day my father died, I think parts of my mother also died. It seemed to me that she became angry with God and lost trust and faith in Him. Over the course of the next ten years my mother would have two husbands, drag us to two different states and live in eight different homes. I guess in so many ways our life was more dysfunctional than functional.
I remember asking the question “why?” a lot. Why did God allow my mother to be so unhappy? Why did God take my father? Why did He allow all these things to happen? Why did I hurt so much? Who is this God who is suppose to be a God of love? Where is He? What is He doing while I’m crying in the darkness, hurt, alone and afraid?
My questions went unanswered, there seemed to be only silence. On occasion I’d find myself in church listening to someone talk about a Father in Heaven who loved me. I heard that He sent his Son to die on a cross and pay for my sins. I wanted to believe them but I just thought my sins were somehow too great for God to forgive. I remember a time when I was about twelve, we had a babysitter, she told me that God was my Father and he loved me. I laughed, "a Father in heaven who loved me what did I want with that?"
When I was sixteen once again we moved us to a different home in a different state. It was there while attending high school that I met a girl that I was instantly drawn to. She seemed to have something about her that was different. As I sought her friendship she shared Christ with me. She told me all the things I had heard before, but this time I wanted to believe. So I accepted Christ as my Savior.
I would love to tell you that my life was dramatically different from that day forward but I can’t. There were changes, I began attending church, finding new friends and reading my Bible. But I was still searching for something. I still wanted answers and I still wanted a Father who would love and protect me.
I am thankful that God constantly pursued me in spite of myself. Like many of us it seems I always chose to learn things the hard way. It was hard for me to surrender completely to God when I was so used to taking care of myself. I had learned very early in life that people couldn't be trusted. I had learned that no one was going to protect me, except me. I would try to figure out things my own way, do what I thought was right. But then my life would end up in shambles and I’d come crawling back to God begging for forgiveness and love.
By the time I was twenty I had a beautiful six-month-old son. God would use that time to draw me back to him, once again. A short time later God would bring the most wonderful man into my life and we would be married. Through my husband God would teach me about unconditional love and a redeeming love I never knew could exist. As the years followed I would learn to know God, to trust Him and most of all to love Him with my whole heart.
Over the last twenty-four years of marriage and raising two boys, now twenty-one and twenty-four, God has brought me through much. He has taught me how to forgive those who have hurt me in the past. He has shown me how to stand firm on the solid rock of Christ when your son rebels. He continues to teach me how to love, to trust and have a deeper faith in Him.
Today I can tell you that I wouldn't change anything about what I've had to walk through, even the years of abuse at the hands of a step-father. Why? Because God has shown me that it is because of my past that I have become who I am. God has shown me He will not waste anything that has happened to us, but will use all of it to bring Him honor and glory.
God did answer that one question "Where were you when I was crying alone, hurt and afraid in the dark?" His answer is found in Zephaniah 3:17.
"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
God has given me a precious vision of Him as Father cradling me in his arms, rocking back and forth, comforting me, singing softly, and quieting my tears with His love. I fully understand now that man has a free will and sometimes, in the freedom of that will, choices are made and there are victims as a result. But God does not stand idly by, He weeps, He comforts and then sets about a plan to use the pain for His glory.
As I reflect back on my life I am struck by my total inadequacies. How can I possibly think that there is anything about me that God can use? And yet God has redeemed me. It is in Him and Him alone that I might be counted worthy of doing anything to bring honor and glory to His name. He has given me a place of love and security in a Father's love.
Father in heaven-I love you!