We just had our church's annual October meeting a few days ago. I would give you the play-by-play of the meeting because it was super duper wonderful, but there's something else I'd rather talk about. Something God's been showing me and that the meeting really solidified.
I got saved when I was ten and grew up a good girl. I never rebelled. I never questioned. Little miss good girl, that was me. The worst thing I ever did was to backtalk my moma. And I coasted on that. I relied on it. I never gave God anymore than my good girl status. I was a good church girl, what more was there?
Then three or so years ago, good girl went away and bad girl took her place. I decided to do my thing. I decided good girl didn't matter anymore and I'd just do what I wanted. But, last August, I woke up with bitter gravel in my mouth and God was nowhere around. And I was stunned to realize, good girl had been all I ever had... good girl had been more important to me than God Himself.
I didn't know what to do. I floundered all over the place trying to find that good girl and God again. And God was so nice to me, He made Himself reachable and showed me that I needed Him more than I needed the good girl. Not that being a good girl is bad, but there's more to it. There's more relationship than just that. So I reached out and touched Him. Finally, after 26 years of Christian upbringing and 16 years of being saved, I set out to know God. Not because I'm so super spiritual, but because now I knew just how despicable and worthless I was on my own. Because now I wasn't a 'good girl' anymore. Because now I had nowhere else to turn.
This last year has been a big fat journey for me to get to know God. A journey to find God's onion layers. I've shared some of that journey with you guys along the way, and now I want to tell you all about the most wonderful layer I've yet to find.
You know how the Bible talks about Moses seeing God and when he comes down from the mountain, his face is all shiny and the people are terrified and he covers himself with a veil? I love that passage of scripture. It seems so wonderful to me that Moses asked God to see His glory and God showed just a small part of Himself and just that small part made Moses glow shiny. I've read that over and over and wondered, What was it like? How did it feel to be right there in God's very presence... so close you could almost touch Him? Then I wish I could have that. I wish I could be Moses. I want that, that right there, God's presence. Just to be there. That's what I've been missing my whole life. That's what I've been looking for all year.
Then God showed me some things about thankfulness that really brought Him close.
Then forgiveness, and He came even closer. (Although, I'm still on shaky ground when it comes to forgiveness.)
Then He started showing me some things about worship. How that Mary worshipped Christ. I've always felt kinda bad for Martha. Poor thing. Here she was slaving away and Mary never offered to help out so that Martha could sit at Christ's feet too. But Mary chose that good thing, she chose to worship. And her worshipping brought her so close to Christ that she knew things no on else did. She knew, when she broke that alabaster box, that Christ would die. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. His own disciples didn't even get that. When Tim preached on that in church one Sunday morning, I just sat there, completely floored. To be that close to God. No wonder she left Martha hanging.
And I started asking God, How? How do I have what Mary had? How do I get my face to be shiny like Moses?
Here I've been all year: seeking, stretching, reaching, learning, asking. And God's been showering His goodness on me to the point that I've felt like I would burst, to the point that I have to close my eyes against the brightness of His glory.
And finally, last week, God showed me something I've been missing. When Bro. Rocco Shanks got up and preached, God said from beside me, Here it is. What you've been missing. What you've been looking so hard for.
He talked about Esther. How she had a great need, but instead of rushing in before the king, she went in carefully. She went in soft. How she said, If it seem good unto the king, and not, I want from the king. Esther talked nice to the king. And God said to me, How do you talk to Me? And I was like, Pretty nicely I think. I mean, maybe sometimes I'm annoying, but I really try to be careful with You. Why do You ask? And He got straight to the point, Sunny... do you love Me?
And I felt pricked. Because, of course I love Him, but how often do I tell Him? And how often do I tell Him why I love Him? I just sat there and cried because here He had been so good to me all this last year, and I had been focusing so much on doing right by Him, that I'd hardly given any time to the loving part. I figured doing right by Him was the same as loving Him. But there's a big difference between service and worship, and the best way to worship is to love. Because when you love someone with all your heart, you'll do what you should for that person. But the loving comes first.
God wants me to love Him more than anything else. That's the thing He asks for most. I mean, isn't that what we want most from whomever we love? I wouldn't mind having someone to do my laundry for me, but I'd way rather be loved and have the laundry pile up like crazy.
So, last Monday, I made a pact with God. I told Him I wouldn't say a word to Him all that day except to say I loved Him. And to say why I love Him. And it was so nice that I did it on Tuesday too. And then Wednesday. And now I've been doing it for a week. And now I'll tell you what doing this has done for me and my relationship with God.
It's brought me to God's presence. To that place where Moses' face got shiny. Where Mary sat at His feet. Where the cloud settled and was so thick that the people couldn't get into the tabernacle. You know, that place I've been longing for and just couldn't quite seem to grasp.
Not that mine and God's relationship hasn't been wonderful before this. Because it's been amazing. I've felt, in this last year, that I've opened my mouth wide and God's just been filling it with His wonder and goodness. And I've stood amazed at Him. Like, I can't believe He wants so much to do with me.
But this, this, is something more than everything else.
I can't just be content with His love for me, He wants my love in return. Not just my service. Not just my time. Not just my effort. He wants it all. He delights in it.
And now, in this last week, I have this place I go, and He's there. I can't describe this place, it's undefined. But He's there, and He reaches for me, and I run to Him, and everything I had to say to Him falls away- so unimportant, and all I can say is, I love You. And let me tell you, when He smiles back at me... I just want to sink down and never leave. I understand why Mary couldn't leave His side to go fold laundry, I understand why we won't be able to stand in His presence someday, I understand why Moses said, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. Now I know that God has smile wrinkles around His eyes, I know He puts His hand on my head to say hello, I know He waits for me to come to that place everyday, and I know that when I see Him, nothing else really matters.
The last week or so hasn't been easy, life happens. But, God. When I enter into His presence, and I see His hand reaching for mine, and I see Him smile... it's like the hard things dissolve. Twice this week I've run to God to tell him my heartache, and twice I've forgotten everything as soon as I saw Him.
I can't believe what a difference it's made just to say, Lord, I love You. I love You because of the way You talk to me. I love You because of the way You're always around. I love You because it always feels like the sky is painted sunset just for me.
And now for all the good girls out there:
Don't just be a good girl.
Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Because being a good girl is good, but it's not enough. Reading your Bible, and praying, and going to church and visitation, working the bus route, obedience, modesty, and all that is great... keep it up! But there's more.
Loving your Beloved is what'll do it for you. You need God's presence, so love Him.
... I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go.
I sat down under his shadow with great delight.
This is my beloved, and this is my friend.
This is the loveliest God layer I've found and I had to tell you about it because... it's too lovely to keep inside. I want you to have the same thing if you don't already. I want you to see God's hand reach for you too. And I want you to forget the hard things when you're with Him.
I don't want to go anywhere that He's not. And I want to love Him with my whole heart.
Because it's good.