As a young man, before becoming a Christian, I knew I had life figured out. What my future held and where I was headed. Not having time for anything else but “my plans”. Knowing all I needed to know and did not need help from anyone. I was invincible. The world was my playground and the only way for me was up. My goal: “to have the whole world know my name”.
However, things do not always work out the way we envisioned.
On a summer day in June of 2002, everything came crashing down around me. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. An ugly disorder that destroys every facet of a normal life. I was devastated. I had everything planned. Now what? I began a downward spiral. I could not cope.
Wish I knew then what I know now!
The old cliche. Everyone says it. Wishing they could “do it all over again”. Well, I am one of them. If I could go back and see :
- How things could have been different in my life.
- How my attitude could have been different.
- How I could not have felt alone.
- How I could have seen into the future.
- How everything changed for the good.
You see everything did change for me. I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Able to pull myself up by the bootstraps and start putting my life back together but I was not able to do it alone.
I “found” God again in my life, or more like God never gave up on me. He never left my side. I was blinded by my own self to see that He was there, with open hands the whole time.
You see, I am what they call a “type A” person. You know the type everyone describes as “too much”. Wikipedia explains:
The theory describes Type A individuals as outgoing, ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, sensitive, impatient, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics.” They push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence. – McLeod, Saul. “Type A Personality“
So as you can see, I tend to be a little bit of a control freak. I like things to organized and follow a scheduled timeline, but only as long as it is my timeline.
So there is where the problem begins.
3 things I wish I would have known before becoming a Christian that I feel would have made my life easier during this tough time.
1. WHY DID I WAIT?
Why did it take me so long to see that God was there the whole time? Waiting for me to get out of my own way and allow him to take control because I was way out of my pay grade. See I found out God works on HIS timeline, not mine. I was out of control, trying to be in control. What a weight off my shoulder when I surrender the helm to Him.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? – Matthew 6:25-26 KJV
2. God’s Love is Endless
Wow. If I would have known what God’s love was like prior to being a Christian? What a change that would have made. As I was on my downward spiral, I was hard to love. I became cold and bitter. I was a “good person” so why was this happening to me? Why was God allowing me to go through this terrible time? Why did God give me this disorder? What did I do to Him?
These are all the questions that ran through my mind. This is what I fed on. This is where I let myself get in the way of what God was doing on His timeline. God was showing me, tough love. See I was in love with myself and had control of “how my life was going to turn out”. God’s love for me was GREATER than my love for myself but he had to get my attention for me to see it. My attention he received.
When you reach the bottom and “your control” begins to unwind you start looking for answers. When you start that search your attention changes. If you start looking in the right areas, that allows God to step in and start giving you the right answers.
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8 KJV
3. Sin is “THE LIE”
I have a confession to make at this point. Taught all of this in Sunday School as a kid. Told about God’s love and how he will help you. Growing up, my parents made sure that I was loved and raised me “right”.
However, like most, I went wayward.
I wanted to see what the world had for me. Remember, I wanted “the whole world to know my name”. I was on a mission. Little did I know it was the wrong mission.
God wanted a different path for me but I could not get out of my own way to see it. I fell into the trap. I got caught up in things I never thought possible. “I was lied to”. My wants and desires were leading me down the road of destruction. I was blinded by my own foolishness and God intervened.
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. – 1 Peter 5:7-10 KJV
I wish I would have known these things before becoming a Christian.
I am sure most of you reading this have had some difficulty in your life. If you say you haven’t you are kidding yourself. Take advice from someone who has been there. Take it from someone who likes having control. Who likes it “his way or no way”. Someone who has been cold to everyone around them because they were too selfish to see there were answers right there. All it took was looking in the right places. God can help, but only if you let Him.
I am sure you are wondering about my Ulcerative Colitis. I was able to get it under control by God’s grace. Surgery, a beautiful supportive wife and a lot of prayers. God gave me back my life because I no longer exclude Him out of my decisions. It is easier letting Him steer the ship.
Think back to some of the difficult situations in your life.
- Did you take control or did you allow God’s will to shine through?
- Where do you struggle?
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