Come On In, My Place Is A Mess
Inviting God Into The Unthinkable:
I can remember singing "Just As I Am" for the first time in my tiny church of 15 people. I was tiny, myself. However, I listened and quickly learned the melodies so I could yammer out the song louder than my siblings as we sang the invitation over and over and over again. No one came forward to pray. We still sang as if they would. I liked the song. There was something simple, wonderful and inviting about it. No pun intended.
After asking Jesus into my life a few years later, I found myself refusing to utter the melody in even as much a s a hum. Jesus was not the only one I was introduced to that Summer. This time, sin and shame was added to my baggage toted into the old church doors that morning. It left me feeling heavy and hidden, as if to say, "THIS CANNOT BE TRUE! JUST AS I AM IS JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH". I was only 9 years old. I was no longer innocent. I was shattered, molested, angry and full of iniquity. Iniquity? How could I be? I was so young. I was a 9 year old boy that walked the floors of reactive molestation due to another sexual sin earlier that month. It was being unfairly spread down through our family before we could even ask why. I have to give the ol' liar some credit. The devil mapped out quite a strategy for my fall. After the confrontation with this part of my story,I found an adult magazine in our front ditch where someone had hidden it. I hid that magazine under my bed mattress for many years after that day. Ironically, it was covered in dirt and filth. For many years, I tried to skillfully balance my addiction with porn and serving in my church. It was exhausting but seemingly possible for a while. I hated what I was doing. I was constantly guilty and afraid of being found out. I felt I deserved the worst things in life. I was married and divorced 3 times. I wanted everything to end. My brokenness had brought me to the bottom. It was there I heard Him. I heard Jesus remind me that I was loved. I rejected the thought. How? I had hurt so many people and lost everything, again. I had tried to separate myself from His love. Thank God, I failed to do that.
In the process of trying to stop my speeding train that was out of control, I never felt that God was asking me to stop. Putting down porn was not the requirement. Instead, He was asking me to invite Him into the mess. He was loving me "Just As I Am". I began a very difficult process of trusting who He was and how He loved. He knocked on my door. I said, "Come On In My Place Is A Mess". He moved the Kung Pow Chicken and the filthy magazines to the floor to make room to sit on my dirty couch. He began to change me and form baby skin around my heart. He wanted me to worship Him in the messiest and ugliest places. I did! My sins started looking displeasing and objectionable until I decided one day, I would resist them and hang out with my Savior. He did the unthinkable after I trusted Him and also did the unthinkable. I invited Him into my disaster and He worked a miracle. God never stopped loving me. He had a plan all this time to redeem my life. My worship does not begin or end with a song service. In every room of my life, I choose to worship something. In every little and big thing, I want to love and trust Christ. When I eat, sleep, work, play, watch tv, get on the internet, read a magazine, interact with friends and all the other thousands of things that draw my attention daily, I decide. I will worship God in how I respond and what I choose.
Oh and as for the devil, nothing has changed. He will always be a liar. Thank God I see that clearly now. "Just As I Am" has never been more real and true to me. God was not mad at me. God is not mad at you either.
It's Your Choice But You Have To
The Story Behind "Make Me":
Growing up under the care of Independent Baptist grandparents in the Texas country was sweet! It was also bitter. I never missed a meal. I always had a comfy bed all to myself. My brother, sister and I were all safe and sound. We had close to 40 acres of country living. Barns, a pond, cows, horses, fireflies, SNAKES and ...I forgot everything else after snakes. I had a dog named Tippy and decent walking shoes. We covered every square inch of that property. It was a good life.
When we were called to the table to eat, we were expected to be there, cleaned up and hungry! When my Grandpa started his repetitive prayer, “Alver gracious Heavenly Father..”, we were expected to bow our heads, close our eyes and do anything but laugh or talk. We had rules. There were consequences to breaking those rules. A little yelling here and there, maybe even an occasional belt to the gluteus maximus. Or the wooden paddle that hung on the wall like a trophy. If that wasn’t bad enough, we had all signed it like that was something worth bragging about! A bit weird to me.There were many names I didn’t even recognize. It must have been a very old paddle, passed down many generations. I’m surprised that pine of pain never got lost or accidentally thrown in a fire. The thought crossed my mind a few times.
As my siblings and I grew older, fewer and fewer things made sense. My sister was never allowed to wear pants. She could only wear dresses and koulots. We were never allowed to go to a school dance or event, have a Christmas tree, go Easter egg hunting or anything fun like that. We would listen to my Grandfather explain how alcohol was a sin, period! Rock n Roll was a weapon of the devil and kissing caused babies! Ok, I made that last one up. We never missed church. We were expected to be there and serve in our strengths. We were pretty much told what those strengths were. I can’t speak for my brother and sister but, rebellion started setting in solid with Terry McCoy!
When I started learning about Jesus, I once again felt like it was a rule. It felt like yet another hard expectation in our family. I was never interested in talking to anyone about that. Then I met a kid named Wally at church camp. It was our first time to ever go to a church camp. Our church was tiny and I had no friends. It kinda stunk at first. Then Wally and I found each other a few days into camp. He was nice. I was not. I have no idea why I was hard to get along with. Thank God, Wally pushed past that. Wally liked to talk a LOT! He loved to share how he became a Christian the year before. I had no desire to listen to the screaming camp preacher but I liked hearing Wally’s story. He truly helped me realize that it was my choice. I didn’t have to love God or live for God. But I wanted to. The last night at camp, I sat in the back of the tabernacle. My heart was beating out of my chest as I thought about Wally’s story. I WANTED THAT! I was choosing that. As soon as the cheesy music started playing, I shot out of my seat like a cannon and ran down to my cabin and told Jesus that I was all His. I was at the end of my bunk bed and after I prayed, there were fireworks! It was July 4th. I do believe Jesus may have shot off some awesome fireworks on my account in Heaven that night!
I completely had a choice and I chose to love Him. I chose to give my life to Him! He doesn’t make us love Him. He just won’t do that. It’s so attractive how He is all powerful yet leaves the most important choices up to us. That is love. No rules. No have to’s. Just love.
The First Step Is Always The Hardest Step:
It is June 15, 2018. It’s about 11:30 at night. I’m sitting in a chair, looking out of a huge window, staring at downtown Boston, MA. I’ve never been to Boston. I love the history, the food, the waterfronts, the night lights. Oddly, I’m not here for any of it. Yes, we will eat and take in some sites but make no mistake, the reason I’m here is the very best part.
The average distance from Columbia, TN to Middleborough, MA is 1,200 miles give or take. That also averages out to about 2.9 million steps. I have come here to reunite with my brother. We have been apart for 18 years. The last time I saw my brother was in East TX, June of 2000. He and I had to make a very difficult decision with our Grandma to let our Grandfather off of life support after suffering numerous heart attacks and a massive stroke leaving him in a vegetative state. It was a few days before Father’s Day. Our grandparents raised us. It was a tough day and an even tougher decision. After the funeral, I never once thought my brother and I were saying goodbye to each other for so long. We were not terribly close. I was actually surprised he came. Just like me, my brother had made many, many bad choices that pushed him away. He joined the Navy in the late 80’s. I’m pretty sure he joined to get away from everything. Choices were made that greatly affected both of us and he left. He left! I was so angry with him and decided to not care if he ever came back. Life was not at all like I was convinced it was. I had great and horrible memories. We both did. But I stayed.
Just like me, my brother has ran. He has ran into one major mistake after another. We both just dug the deepest hole we could possibly dig, trying to escape our reality. A few years ago, I had decided to forgive my brother and reach out to him. Humility found us both in a different place and it was sweet to reconnect with him. But we were too far away to see each other. Our circumstances have changed and my wife, Lisa and I scheduled a trip to come to Massachusetts to see my brother and his wife, Leah! We are going tomorrow and then going back on Father’s Day. I am stoked! I’m nervous but stoked!
I was thinking tonight. I could have walked here. 2.9 million steps. The hardest step will always be the first in forgiving and reaching out to my brother. That decision has set me on this amazing journey to see him again. It will be amazing! My brother and I are best friends (on the phone). To embrace him and hear his literal voice and meet each other’s families will be unforgettable. I probably won’t sleep tonight!
If you can relate to this, I know many will. Please forgive and live. God has 2.9 million plus steps of an amazing journey and life for you. Take the hardest step and never ever be the same! I did and I’d do it again and again and again.