How God turned My Life Around
“Jesus loves me; this I know.” These lyrics sound through the halls of churches almost every Sunday morning. “Jesus Loves Me,” the familiar tune which reassures children that Jesus does love them no matter what color they are. Why? “The Bible tells me so.” I have sung this song myself. I grew up on it’s lyrics. Despite the reassurance that my Savior loved me, I compartmentalized such love into the “Christian life
” alone. “The Christian life,” for so long, was something that took place only when I was thinking about Christ and reading the bible and praying. I did not follow Christ all the time, so did Jesus still love me? I’m going to show you now how God used a man named Randy Turner to turn my life around—taking an inferior boy and showing him the grace of God.
I remember the day well. There was a disturbance of some sort in the house of which I had taken part. I am not sure whether I was the malefactor or was the beneficiary, probably a quarrel with my brothers, but I do remember what happened thereafter. After my rebuke, I walked through the back door and proceeded to the garage
. In those days, and even now, the garage was not meant for cars but for storage, so there were boxes
upon boxes of stored junk. Upon entering, I moved a few boxes away, found a familiar hole where my brothers and I used to go and hide, bellied myself on the dusty flour, and crawled about three and one half feet under stored chairs and one desk to my destination—a hidden spot in the far corner of garage. None would find me there! Immediately I began to cry. “No one loves me!” and “Everybody hates me!” were the phrases that I would say. Tears flowing, I would condemn the world for its hatred and console myself with the words I knew too well, “It’s okay. You can survive though no one understands you.” How hopeless words can console is a mystery—but truth switches places with lies when you’re deceived.
The truth was that I grew up in a Christian home and was extremely loved. My family showed no favoritism. My brothers and I were treated equally and we loved each other. We had our brushes with each other’s bad side often, but brothers do that. My parents, though imperfect, were anxious that we know truth. Hence, from the very first days of my life, I can remember being trained in the scriptures. My mom taught Precept Bible Studies, as did my dad, so I can remember early days of intense study of the scriptures—an amazing foundation for a young kid. I studied John, Judges, Jude, Romans, Joseph, Genesis, Daniel, and many others. This, too, was mixed with our nightly devotion in which the entire family would read the scriptures, talk about them, and then discuss whatever was at hand. My dad had been to Bible school. We went to churches that taught the scriptures clearly. Life couldn’t get any better. However, despite the amazing situation I was in, I was still inferior. Nonetheless, throughout those years God’s love was translated from loving me when I’m serving him to also loving me when I’m not. Nevertheless, with such truth learned and so much more to know, I still felt so inadequate for God’s love; whenever I would sin—all the time—I would come down on myself like a load of bricks. “God must be disappointed in you! You know the truth yet you lie! You are a failure! Who could love you after that?”
The Tide Turns
I had since moved from Fort Worth to Longview and was in a new situation. Many at our church were overwhelmed by the Didlake’s when we arrived at Oakland Heights Baptist Church. We were a formidable force which many had to be reckoned with. This is not to say we were unkind; we knew the scriptures and we could share them. People feared us. There were many situations we walked into. Aaron (my little brother) and I became instant celebrities within the youth group, and after the “cool people” (Senior’s in High school) left, we were the top-dogs. I joined the youth group praise band and was eventually given charge over it. I also led small group bible studies. I was a part of the planning process for the Wednesday night events. Much was going my way.
Nevertheless, with each higher power I gained in the church, the easier I saw the problems both with the church and myself. With each problem, I knew I must be a bolder witness for Christ. With each attempt to be such a witness, I would fail miserably while no one was looking. One Sunday evening I went to church after having failed miserably. I saw the smiling faces looking my way and smiled back with all the face I could muster. “You’re a fake!” People would say, “How are you?” to which I’d say, “Great!” “You’re a liar!” The service rolled into the alter call and I did not go forward. “You don’t care!” If only the world could know that I am human: one that loved them so much and wanted so terribly to love Christ more!
A few days later I went to visit with my music minister at church to talk. The conversation that progressed changed the course of my life. He said, “Nathan, during the alter call on Sunday evening, I prayed for you.” I was shocked! Someone other than my parents would pray for me? I asked why, and he began to explain to me how I for so long had been hostage to an inferior state of mind which affected every aspect of my life. He then explained my value as the scriptures state and argued that I, if I submitted to inferiority, would be hostage to a life subjected to the law of perfection and not that of grace. I could not believe what I was hearing! I knew exactly what he was talking about. For so long, I thought that my bondage was a normal, when truly inferiority had darkened every part of my life. I discovered was that I was nowhere close to true person that Jesus Christ had called me to be because I had kneeled before at a stumbling block that I had erected years before. I was called to glorify and worship Christ in my life, yet all I could see was my sick sinfulness and not His glory. After that day I began to see God’s grace in a new way. I was not simply a “loved person;” I was truly “His Beloved!” God showed me this then; I can see it now! Though the course of letting His truth take control over my life has been an ongoing struggle, by His grace I will shine His glory through the good and bad times. By His grace that gives me identity and worth, I will sing His song of love and my understanding of it will be real!