woke up thinking….

This morning I woke up thinking about someone who I haven’t thought about in a very long time.  She’s not in my life anymore, but she played a very significant part in helping me find Jesus again.  I don’t know where I’d be today if it weren’t for her.  And I don’t think I ever said thank you…

I met Tikva about three years after I became a Christ follower.  The honeymoon part of my relationship with Jesus was over, and the struggles had begun in earnest.  I had stopped attending church for the most part, and my devotional life was non-existent.  I didn’t talk to God, and he didn’t talk to me.  Or at least I wasn’t listening when He did.

In summer 2002, I had this part time job as a projectionist for Regal Cinemas, and one day I had a casual conversation with one of the box office girls.  The first thing I noticed about her is that she was really tall (5′ 10″), and she was also really pretty.  Blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes.  And one of the nicest people I’d ever met.  But she was young (18 at the time), and a freshman college student.  Over the course of the conversation, she happened to mention her faith–said she was a Christian.

Me, too, I replied, and didn’t think much more of it.  A few weeks after that, I was at a Padres game when they still played at Qualcomm Stadium.  After the game, some of the players that were believers on both teams gave brief testimonies.  I hadn’t known this was going to happen, but my friend and I had stayed afterward because we were trying to sober up.  I remember looking down over the railing, and seeing Tikva in the section below.  I sunk back in my seat, not wanting her to see me all wasted.  So listened to a few of the testimonies, and my friend squirmed in his seat. 

 I don’t remember feeling particularly convicted by any one of the testimonies, but seeing Tikva there and feeling embarassed made me feel more than a bit self-conscious about some of the things in my life, though I did not yet feel like I needed to change anything.  I was fine, I thought.

A few days after that, I saw Tikva at work again, and mentioned that I’d seen her at the game.  She remarked how she loved hearing the stories that had been shared, how it was nice to hear that people for whom it would be so easy to give in to the world, instead gave in to Jesus.  And then she took a long look at me and said, “you should come to church with me sometime.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“You look like you need it,” she replied.  I tried not to be offended, but had to concede she was right.  How does a person look when they need church, or need God, I wondered?  I never did get around to asking.  But we exchanged numbers, and a couple weeks after that I called her (in her dorm, no less), and we went.

She attended the Rock church, back when it met in Golden Hall at SDSU, and it amazed me how quickly God began to work in my life after that.  The first thing that came back was curiousity about His word, and the deep need to have Jesus working in my life.  It came in increments, and it took a little while, but it came, and it felt awesome.  But it also became obvious the Rock was not for me, and after a short while, I began to attend a Sunday morning group at Shadow Mountain with another couple of friends, while also attending Sunday evenings at the church of my friend from college.

And Tikva and I began to spend a great deal of time together.  We were briefly involved, but nothing much ever came of it.  We did not become sexually involved at all, we just really liked each other’s company, and it was great to have someone to go to church with.  But that ended, like things sometimes do, and I eventually committed to Calvary Baptist full time, getting baptized in January of 2003. 

I kept working at the theater, and Tikva and I remained pretty good friends.  I was cruising for a while, and felt good most of the time. I’d stopped filling the gaps in my life with crap, for the most part, and I was talking to the Lord pretty regularly.  It was great.

And then I began to spend time with a young woman at the theater who was going through some difficulties in her marriage.  Her name was Kristin, and she would be another person who had a profound effect on my life, but that’s a story for another time.

For now, I’m just grateful that God sent Tikva into my life when He did.  I know Garth Brooks said it first, but I guess the Good Lord knows what he’s doin’ after all…

so thanks, Tikva.  I hope you’re well!

Agreements and lies

I’m reading this John Eldredge book right now, and it’s really interesting. It’s more or less the story of his own devotional life over a year, through all kinds of circumstances. The passage I read yesterday was talking about his “story of love.” Not his love story, as in with his wife, but rather his experience with God’s love, and the agreements he’s made about it, because of experiences throughout his own life. Or put a different way, the lies he’d come to believe about God and his love.

He talks about how one of the agreements was “love never stays.” It’s easy to imagine how this would affect your life. If, because of a personal experience, you’d come to believe that God’s love would not and does not endure, like whatever had happened in your life. Like what happened in Eldredge’s. To me, that would make it very difficult to both love, and accept love from others. At least, that’s the way it worked for me. I’m still not very good at accepting love from people. Not family, and not friends most of the time. It makes me a little uncomfortable.

My few experiences with romantic love had left me either raw and hurting, or cold. When I gave my heart to someone, they would hurt me. Therefore God would do the same. And when I added to that my experience with my parents, it left me believing that not only had they suffered my existence without really caring much about it, but that God had done the same. I believed this garbage for most of my life, even after becoming a believer. I can see that now.

And because of that belief, because I knew in my heart that love was not something that endured, that it either faded like an old pair of jeans or disappeared completely (if it was ever there at all), I lived my life accordingly. I took comfort in the short term. In things, rather than God, family, or friends. In food, in alcohol, in empty relationships. I tried and failed to fill an immense void in my heart and my life.

I did this for such a very long time. I believed it was how my life would always be.

Thankfully, I was able to open up my heart enough to God that I had the experience of letting him fill it. It wasn’t easy, and it took a long time to get there. But it finally happened. And reading that passage from Eldredge the other day made me realize that this filling needs to take place daily. I need to make that, or rather allow that to happen. Because if I don’t allow my heart, my self, to be filled with the Love and comfort of God, something else will fill it. And there is nothing the enemy would like more than for me to come to more agreements about God.

That’s the other thing. I know I have more agreements about God. I know there are lies I believe that I have not uncovered yet. I think it takes an emotional trigger to uncover them. And once uncovered, I can hold them up to God’s truth. I suppose I need to pray for triggering then, don’t I? I need light shined on the hidden places in my heart. And the cool thing about God is that he will not remove something without replacing it with something else. When I relinquish my death grip on those old lies and agreements, Jesus replaces them with truth.

Another point Eldredge makes is that we can also come to positive agreements about God.

That He will always be there.

That he loves not just us, but me.

That His love endures.

Give thanks to Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever…

That snatch of song just occurred to me. How interesting the ways God chooses to reveal truth. Through song. Poetry. A word from a friend, even.

Anyway, it’s 6:30 a.m., and I just remembered that I forgot to feed Kiki and Little Man. I remembered that I forgot. is that even possible?