Image via Wikipedia Image via Wikipedia
I understand that lots of people don’t talk to God; they don’t believe He exists. That was never the case with me. I’ve always talked to God. Hearing from God was another matter entirely. But talking to God…
Early on, of course, it was through the rote prayers my Catholic parents had taught me.
Then, in my late teens and purely out of necessity, I’d exchanged those redundant sentences for something more suitable to the moment, like: “Oh, my God! Help me! Oh, please help me, please, please, please!”And in those periodic, innocent crises God never let me down. (Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Psalm 94:9)
Every single time I found myself in a scary situation God would always come through, and I’d be standing there, freshly rescued from my little pickle, saying, “Wow!” —a fiendish grin plastered on my face—“that was really close!” And a current of holy gratitude would keep me in its pull the entire day. Then I was off again.
Off on another adventure, another rendezvous. God would’ve called it “a gradual hardening of heart” that would eventually lead me out into a riptide and pull me completely under, with no hope of ever breaking through the surface for that unreachable quality of life.
But sometimes, God just allows us to play right there, right in the path of the undertow.
Image via Wikipedia
It was only twenty minutes into May 28, 1976. Five minutes earlier Mom had died. She would miss my 21st birthday in two and half months. How her death had become “all about me” I don’t know. But it did. And the devil had his heyday with it too.
Her expected—but never really expected—absence would be my undoing, a defining moment (D.M.), that “point at which the essential nature or character of a person…is revealed or identified.”
I’d already had an ongoing flirtation with L.A.
Image via Wikipedia
Who didn’t who was living down there? So I decided one day that I’d dive into the deep end of Hollywood and try to stay afloat among the many who’d have loved to have taken me down with them. But the lure was enough to keep me hanging around.
One day, about two years—and becoming an entirely different person—later, the scent of my licentious living must’ve reached the heavens. The God who I’d thought had stopped watching long ago had indeed been paying very close attention, and right under my nose He went and changed the game plan. Some would see such a turn of events as a real inconvenience, a problem that demanded to be remedied. I certainly did.
I’d suspected something: the nausea, throwing up, a missed cycle; my dad would’ve killed me if he’d ever found out. (Not really, but what daughter wouldn’t think that way?) I put my face into my hands, and out gushed: “Oh, God! Help me! Oh, please help me, please!” As if that could change anything as irreversible as being pregnant.
To my relief, however, and just in the nick of time! —two friends did show up, and with a solution too. Thank God for friends!
Image via Wikipedia
The first friend took me down to Medi-Cal and got me all “set up” for a $5 abortion. The second friend held my hand through the entire abortion process. I remember thanking God for those friends, that they’d known exactly what to do. I certainly didn’t.
Oh, wait! I knew that what I was doing was a sin. So how could I ever have thought that God actually had anything to do with the decision to terminate life? (And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Romans 1:21.)
The ordeal of having been “caught and trapped” so scared me, I swore off such acts that might lead again to such a horror. But true to the nature of memory, my fears diminished quite quickly. Soon, I was back in the swing of things and barely missed a beat.
Try not to judge me so harshly though, it’s what too many of us were doing in the seventies.
- Image via Wikipedia
It’s what a lot of us did to hopefully find some purpose in all this, to make sense of our existence.
Honestly, who asked me if I wanted to be here? No one! No one ever once consulted me about whether or not I wanted to be born. I didn’t know why I’d been put here, why anyone was here. So I was just trying my best to hold my own in this crazy game of living. This is what I ended up doing, because I knew there had to be a reason for being here, and maybe, just maybe this was the way to find out.
But the longer I stayed in that fast-lane living, my conscience merely became the wind in my ears.
It was a whole year later, when the urge to clean up my act was starting to gnaw at me. So the first thing I did was to try to stop smoking. But being a 3-pack-a-dayer it wouldn’t be easy. I tried to stop cussing too. But that left such an awkward vacancy, my friends kept asking me, “What’s wrong with you? You sick or something?”
I even determined to stay away from the nightclubs. That was the only thing that stuck. But it burned some relationships too. Because now we’re talking judgment calls. At least, that’s what a couple friends accused me of doing. But it wasn’t two, maybe three weeks, and I was feeling the pangs of withdrawal. Mostly, I was just lonely. Understand, I’d been living in a rhythm, and here I’d broken that momentum and suddenly, I needed to feel something again. I picked up the phone and dialed an old guy-friend who would temporarily convince me that it would all be okay somehow. We ended up smoking some weed and having a few drinks.
Neither of which I wanted to do.
Early the next morning a friend of his showed up, and he and I ended up going out the very next night. A real date, I thought. Someone, I thought, I could maybe start something new with, with that newness I so wanted to begin living in. No drinking. No cussing. No sex. No weed.
But on the way to dinner, this nice guy shoved a blimp of a joint my way and didn’t bother to tell me that he’d laced it with something really bad. I didn’t want a hit. I really didn’t. But I wasn’t one to stand up for myself back then, as you probably already guessed. Once the laced joint had done its dirty work, and while he was doing his…I knew. I knew in that instant.
I’d been drugged and still I knew.
In fact, I could’ve sworn I’d heard a voice inside my head, whispering, “You’re pregnant.” Weeks later, it would become official.
Ever hear the term watershed moment? It’s when everything around you converges on you and something changes; things are never the same again.
God is in those watershed moments. He is continually orchestrating life’s events to turn our gaze heavenward. Isn’t that amazingly cool? But you and I can think a watershed moment is more like our worst nightmare. We give up, would rather die than wait around for God’s preserving hand through it all. We might not give it a second thought, that God could take our mess and make something beautiful of it. There’s just no way, right?
So there I was, about eight weeks after this nice guy. I’d lost my job, spent two days in the county jail, and came home just long enough to find out that I was indeed pregnant. In my mind, things could not be worse. I won’t go into it, but I’m really playing it all down here. It’d gotten so bad I was convinced that ending my life was the only option left. And that’s what it took for me to cry out to God.
That’s what it took to open me up to God’s forgiveness and life-changing work. It was right where I needed to be, before I could actually see and admit my sinfulness and genuinely repent. But the miracle here was that I couldn’t even do that on my own; God had to do it for me:
“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD” (Jeremiah 24:7).
And listen to this: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedienct. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts….But because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:1–5).
There was my miracle! To be awakened to the Person of God. Really shaken, I’m telling you, and woken up! I needed a place with a view to God’s perspective, to begin understanding the whys of this life down here. That place would end up being a brand new heart—because my old one had always been so consumed with me and the things that are only seen with human eyes—the very key to unlock the Scriptures.
I never realized to what extent I needed God. And when I’d asked Him to make Himself real to me, I had no idea how He’d go about making it happen. I’m not convinced that I could even begin to explain what happened to me. I’ve tried, but it only seems to take away from the transformation that took place. All I can tell you is, my life has never been the same since.