I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.Philippians 1:6
Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son,Proverbs 3:11–13
and do not loathe his discipline;
for the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.
During the year I took off following my first year of university (1991–1992), one of my friends went to Mount Allison University. This was the same friend who had become a Christian in high school and with whom I had had plenty of theological conversations. At Mount Allison, he began taking Religious Studies courses (ones that focused on the Bible and Christian theology) and became involved with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). As it happens, that he did so led to a significant turning point in my own faith journey.
You see, most weekends he came home because he hated living in the dorm. And when he did come home for the weekend, he would talk about the courses he was taking. He would share his experiences with IVCF. For me, as someone who was struggling with religious questions and who longed to have a more personal faith, I found it all very attractive sounding. Classes where you learned about the Bible? A student group that got together to pray, worship, hang out, and have Bible studies? Wow.
So, needless to say, I went back to Mount Allison the next fall.
Let me also note that I went back for the most impractical of reasons.
I didn’t go back because I had a clear vocational direction.
I didn’t go back because I had chosen my career and only needed the education to go with it.
Nope. I went back because I wanted the space and time to figure myself out. I wanted what my friend was experiencing. It was not something I could get while living at home.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this approach to higher education to my own kids. Or anyone else.
So there I was. Taking classes on the Bible. Spending time with people my age learning what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.
God by his Spirit was moving.
He was drawing me to himself.
Now, here’s the thing. I can’t say that I have a clear, put on the calendar moment of conversion. Mine wasn’t a dramatic conversion. It was the slow gradual opening of the eyes of my heart. My coming to Christ was more of a Emmaus road (Luke 24) rather than a Damascus road (Acts 9) experience.
It happened this way. All of my life I had been an insecure person. Profoundly insecure. Lacking in confidence. Self-conscious. Often I didn’t like myself. I was constantly comparing myself–unfavourably–to other people. And it was through all of this that God touched my life.
I remember going for a walk. I went for walks a lot in those days to think and reflect. And I remember crying out to God for help. I don’t even know if I completely understood what kind of help I needed. But all I knew in the moment was that I wanted God to change my life–to change me.
And he did. Boy, did he ever. Since that moment God has been at work in me answering that prayer of mine.
He entered my life. He entered my heart. He entered my mind. He began a process of renewing and healing and making me new.
What was amazing is that I started to become more myself than I had ever been.
Until then, all of those negative thought patterns, all of the insecurity, all of the ways I hid from pain and questions, were all obstacles to me being who God had designed me to be. Those things weren’t me. They kept me from being me.
It’s as though I was hidden in a block of sculpter’s stone and in that moment God began chipping away at the block to unveil my true identity.
He chips away still.
It’s glorious and wonderful.
Sometimes the chipping away hurts. But it’s always worth it. Always.
Finally I was beginning to know the Father I had been seeking all of my life. A Father who would never leave me nor forsake me. A Father who would unconditionally love me. Who would embrace me. And a Father who would lead me, guide me, and train me.
Have you had such a turning point? What was that moment for you? Is God our Father chipping away at the granite that hides who you truly are?
Or are you reticent to let him in? Afraid of what it might mean? Of how painful or difficult it might be?
Trust me when I say, like I said last time, what God wants to give us–and what he wants to make us–is infinitely better than what we think we have or who we think we are.
So cry out to him. You won’t ever regret you did.