Excerpts from Living Beautiful in an Ugly World Introduction
For many of my adult years I lived as though God made little difference in my life. My Christian existence was nothing more than a one-sided relationship on God’s part, and my expectations centered on tradition, earthly and temporal things, such as material gain, instead of faith.
My heart thirsted for fresh knowledge and I wanted to live authentically. Always grappling with unworthiness, I wanted to know who I was, why I lived, and what God had planned for my life.
Will there ever be a time when I please God enough for him to make plans for me?
After spending years trying to answer that question, the waters of time had washed away the beaches of my self-imposed island. Painting myself into a corner, I avoided conversation with people in church, because I had been lying to them. On the other hand, I shied away from social events with my friends from high school, worrying they would think I was a “Jesus freak,” and thinking my social life should be with Christians. My island was so small that I had nowhere to turn. Standing in the center, I looked out and saw not one safe place where I could keep myself afloat. Knowing that God saw my charades, I felt parched from lack of intimacy with him.
Finally, in my early fifties, I picked up the Life Application Bible my husband gave me, that sat unopened for months. Reading and studying the Bible became a daily ritual. These early morning quiet times took their toll, however, because I learned what an authentic Christian looked like through God’s eyes. Assuming I was an authentic Christian, my studies told a different story.
The conclusion that I needed to kill false spirituality, tradition, and apathy to make room for a personal relationship with God was apparent. And after learning about the lives of biblical people such as, Abraham, Moses, David, and Paul, the realization that my humanity was no different from theirs brought me comfort and clarity—that I was a fallen human being, just as they were.
The need to confront my sin just as they did was uppermost in my mind.
Rejecting family sin patterns like materialism, perfectionism, filthy language, and daily alcohol consumption terrified me, as I thought about losing close friends and family members, who scrunched their eyebrows in dismay and politely changed the subject when they heard me talk about God.
There I stood—on the brink of reality, and not liking it very much.
Nevertheless, after spending time reading the Bible, the hardships of my life became blessings. Knowing that God had watched out for me, I concluded that while he waited patiently for me, he sheltered me. He lavished me with grace. He loved me. He forgave me. And he revealed himself to me.
Has God reveled himself to you?