Beginning of February, 2007. It was two days before my 13th birthday that I decided I wanted to be baptized, to officially give my life to God. I told my parents that I wanted to be baptized before I turned 13, so the very next day, we went to our church, invited some close friends and family, and my pastor baptized me.
I don’t know what I expected. I guess, if I wanted to be totally honest, I expected to be completely changed. Turned inside out, upside down. I thought that, when I came out of that water, I would feel the Spirit of God rush into my soul, and I’d literally feel the warmth of it in my heart.
That’s what I thought. That’s not what happened.
I will always remember my 13th year of existence as sort of dark and scary. Even though I had marked my commitment to God with baptism, I had never felt further away from Him. I hated nighttime, because that was when I was most afraid.
“Dear God,” I would pray, “please, come closer to me. Let me feel Your presence. Save me.”
I felt like God was ignoring me, and I became bitter and angry at Him. I blamed him for our distant relationship. I felt guilty all the time. I couldn’t even listen to Christian music without a burning pain of guilt in my heart.
New Year’s Eve, 2007. Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, whether they keep them or not. And I made a resolution too. One that I kept, have kept for the past six years and counting. It was God’s answer to my prayer.
A small voice whispered to me: “Read your Bible every day this year.”
So, January 1st, I began a life-changing commitment. I was using a plan I found in the back of a book that had you read the Bible in a year. So, I read a little out of Genesis, a little out of Psalm, and little out of Matthew. It took me a good half hour to do the assigned verses, and I admit, after the first couple weeks, I was ready to give up. I thought it was too hard.
And then, about the third week into, I picked up my Bible to do my reading. I thought, I can stop now. I don’t have to do this anymore. But then, a surprising counter thought came. No, I have to do this. I WANT to do this.
I haven’t stopped since.
Several things came as a result of that revolution: I became a better person, a better Christian, and I became ever-so-much closer to God.
That 13th year I was pleading for God to draw nearer to me, He was saying, “My beautiful child, I love you. I’m near you. Draw nearer to me.”
I had always heard that the Bible is God’s love letter to us. I always thought, “Yeah, right. Not that book. Have you read it?”
I hadn’t. Not for what it was. The Bible is not some romantic, mushy, squishy love letter. No. It is a TRUE LOVE letter. True love is not always romantic. It is not always pretty. It is not always comfortable.
True love is unconditional.
The Bible is a love letter, the ultimate love story. God created a man and a woman to love, and to care for, and to cherish. He created for them a world of unsurpassed beauty, just for them to enjoy. He doted on his beloved children and walked with them in the garden everyday. They watched sunsets together.
And then, Satan told them that God was withholding from them. That He was keeping from them something they deserved.
God had given them everything, and yet, they believed Satan’s lie, and fell, and were torn away from God’s presence.
And what did God do? He promised that He would get them back. He promised them that He would make a way that they could be with Him again.
That we could be with Him again.
4,000 years later, God sent His one and only Son to DIE in our place. To tear down the barrier that separated us from Him. He loved us that much.
That’s the love story the Bible tells. The one I didn’t understand. The one I realized when God whispered to me on New Year’s Eve six years ago: “My beloved little one, read my love story everyday. Know how much I love you. Draw closer to me.”
That 13th year, I wanted God to do all the work. But He’s already done the work, the work He didn’t have to do, but did because He loved me. That year was up to me.
And while I may not comprehend His love, I know that He loves me.
Truly. Completely. Unconditionally.
Written by PI Girl Jayne, one of the winners of our real-life love stories contest.
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