Day 37: Beautiful

Many years ago, probably 7 or 8 now, I stood at a Student Camp, on the front row, watching people worship God, and I had this overwhelming sense that something deep and incredible was missing in my life. But how could that be so? I was a Christ Follower. I had the golden ticket to heaven. What on earth could be missing? But deep inside me, I knew something was dreadfully wrong.

I had made a religion out of loving God. I was the best damn Christian that anyone could be. I memorized Scripture; went to Church, gave my money, led lost people to Jesus, righteously judged others, prayed from the list, went to Bible Study twice a week. I mean I had it GOING ON. But I was empty inside. Lonely. Longing for something I felt I would never have.

So standing at that camp, I said to God, "God,if what I know is all there is of you, then I'm going to have to take a pass, because I can't say my life is significantly different than all of the people I know in my life who DON'T know you. So if you are real, God, please show me who you really are. In some supernatural way, show me you."

And I felt as though God said to me, "Carol, I am to you, what YOU have made me out to be. Now let me show you who I AM." And at that moment I was overcome by a depth of despair that I have never known. And once filled with that despair, I felt a warmth come over me, and a deep sense of love . . . there really is no other word for it, a love that seemed to literally push out that despair.

Now a few other crazy things happened that night too. I say crazy because to my baptist upbringing, we didn't really talk about those things, at least not in a good way. :) I mean crazy things like I prayed out loud to God in a language I don't know. I had a vision of a word, just a word, a white word on a black screen, like a movie marquee. And that word gradually spelled itself out until it was a complete word. (I said crazy.) I don't even remember the word, which you would think I would considering how momentous this moment was in my life and to my subsequent journey with Christ.

I have since come to realize that although I knew Christ as my Savior for all those many years, I just never took the time to get to know Him in a deep and meaningful way. I modeled what I thought a Christian should look like, based on what I saw the people around me doing. And sadly, I showed it to the rest of the world, and it wasn't Christ at all. It was a distorted ugly picture of what we, the Church, have turned Christ into.

All that to say, I know that in those years of religion, I turned more people away from Christ than I turned toward Him. My hope is that in the years since, I have shown the beautiful Christ, the loving and sacrificing Christ that I have come to know intimately. I know I still don't get it right sometimes, but I hope that more often than not, what people see in me is the beautiful Jesus.

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