The start of something is a beautiful thing. Like a new day. Not every day has a glorious sunrise, but so many do. And the sunsets are just as magnificent to behold. In fact, there are many days that have both a glorious beginning and ending. And in thinking back over my life (with God), I can see there have been many glorious starts, too. Each one brimming with possibility, but more often than not, ending not as pretty as some of the sunsets I’ve beheld. That’s because a lot of my beautiful “starts” do not hold their original intent. Because what started out for God slowly morphed into something else. A lot of those glorious starts didn’t end prettily, because they ended… for me.
I became a child of God in February of 1997. That was a good start. But I fell so far away from Him, no one would have known I was His. In 2004, I moved to Pinehurst. While there, I dove into our new church and all it had to offer. I grew there (spiritually speaking). It was a great start. But, over time, I came to be bitter and complaining. It didn’t end well… because of me. In the late summer/early fall of 2010, I sought to know God. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” And that I did… I started well. But too soon after, I slid away from Him in my busyness. I went downhill pretty fast. In the summer of 2011, it was with renewed vigor that I sought God. And once again, I encountered God’s glory and light. I climbed up high that time, only to take a big tumble in January/February of 2012. And then came September of 2012. I was pretty low. But this past September became the start of something new… something beautiful… or so I thought.
Yes, I am realizing that over time there have been many, many, many starts and stops with God. I would begin by seeking Him, only to be pulled away by busyness, hardship… or something worse. And I believe that “something worse” is the heart of this self-examination. In fact, this self-exam has everything to do what lies at the center of my heart. Because what’s becoming glaringly obvious is a pattern. A pattern of a beautiful start, for God, followed by an ugly ending… for me.
God sent me home in the fall of 2010. This was within weeks of my whole-hearted search for God. And so naturally, I wanted to praise Him for that. I felt the nudging to write a book during the summer of 2011, soon after settling into my home in Virginia. When I caught wind of a Christian women’s writing contest, that gave me the push I needed. And I began that book with my heart in the right place. I sincerely wanted to glorify God. I wanted to write about how real He is, and how He worked in my life. And so, I churned out over 45,000 words within three months. I gushed about answered prayer, erroneously believing God to have sent me home simply because I wanted to go there. The honest truth? I thought He rewarded me for my good behavior while in North Carolina. Not long after completing the manuscript, I began to want and to crave. But my desire was not so much about God anymore. I began to long to be something more than what I was. I wanted to be a somebody, and so having a published book would give me status. And so, what started off with good intentions (the book was to be a standing stone for God – a memorial to Him), turned into something for me.
And now there’s the blog. My heart was in the right place… true to Him. It was a beautiful start. But you know… numbers are a big thing in the world today. I found myself going to the stats section just a little too often, wondering how many visitors there were to the site. And so the pattern emerges. Beautiful starts, for God, turn to me. And the truth is… that “something worse” that lies in my heart is my selfish nature. I honestly want to do and be for God, but then I get wrapped up in how what I’m doing could be a benefit to me. And as much as I want it to be wholeheartedly for God, there is an ugly part of me that inserts itself into something beautiful. The ugliness makes its presence known in the form of pride and self-seeking. God help me! It’s a pattern, and I’m seeing it so clear today.
I began reviewing my old journals on Friday, but I’m stuck on the first few pages. Examine my heart jumped off the pages at me, but I neglected to notice a reference to Hebrews 10:22 until yesterday. My version of the Bible shows, “Let us draw near with a true heart…” I also like the NLT version, which reads, “Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts…” A heart that’s true…. a heart that’s sincere. Quite frankly, I cannot say that my heart has been 100% sincere. Because God told me about three years ago to examine mine. And I didn’t. And so I’m told a second time… examine my heart. My daily calendar (which has Scripture for each day) shows, “stay true to the Lord.” In this self-exam, I just have to ask myself have I done so. Have I stayed true to God? Well, no. Not always. I have many, many starts with Him… each time drawing near with a true heart, only to find myself pulled away by my own shortcomings. And so, I reflect on that time two and a half years ago. I sought Him with my whole heart, and so what’s happening with me today stems from that day. And in reality, what happened with me two and a half years ago stems from a day just over sixteen years ago, when I first trusted that Jesus died for me and my sins. That’s the day I became a child of God. And ultimately, that is my beautiful start. It’s the only start. Because in truth, we really have only one beginning and one ending with God… the ending being the day we’re done here on earth.
Today, I can know with assurance that He’s not done with me yet. We can all know that. And what should be exciting to us all is that today (no matter how many years we’ve walked with God) is really just the beginning with Him! With Him in our lives, we’re all off to a beautiful start.