This morning in church my pastor Bill Hybels talked about how as Christians we can influence our spiritual beliefs towards people we know without pushing them away. He talked about people that are far from God that we know either have pushed themselves away from God because of something difficult they are facing or have never been a believer. Pastor Hybels shared many personal experiences he himself has experienced in his walk with God on people who have come into his life distant from God or not believing in God at all. He described a friend who for fifteen years now does not believe in God. In the past two years though his friend has made progress in his journey to finding God including attending some Willow Creek services. As Hybels would describe it with his display on stage of a door that he has opened. The truth is we cannot push that door open in other lives if they are not ready, otherwise you will push them away. You can however help them open that door even if it is just a crack open. It has been a fifteen year journey for Pastor Hybels and he has opened that door a crack for his friend a friend he does not judge but instead listens to and answers his questions. I already know there will come the day that Pastor Hybels will stand before us on a Sunday morning and that door that appeared cracked open today will be fully open and the man behind his story will be standing before us to share his message of becoming a believer in God. I believe this because I have Faith and it will go to show Pastor Hybels never gave up on this man yet never pushed him either. Giving him the space to find God in his own timing.
I have a friend who I have known since I was thirteen who I have always known as an atheist. We have a great friendship however we have different believes. I am a Christ follower she is an atheist. Do I judge her of course not. Do I pray for her of Course I do. In our friendship I know talking about God and Church is an off limits topic. However that does not mean I do not have Faith she will never find God. She is one of those people I pray daily for and she is one of those people if I told her that I pray for her she would roll her eyes. I have enough Faith in God that he will come into her life when she is ready and do incredible things, however I am not going to push that door open for her. I will try to crack it open but it will be her decision to open it and allow God into her life. There is another friend I met in high school in our youth group through our church. She was in my small group that met once a week. I watched her talk about God week after week for nearly two years and I was in aww of her relationship with God and used to pray to God for a relationship with him that she had. It was during a time in my life where I was struggling with a painful past that was haunting me and I had big questions myself doubting God was even listening to me. In a sense I felt he had abandoned me and was angry. However I did not give up on this idea of forming the same relationship I saw my friend have with God for myself. During those two years of my junior and senior year of high school it was my relationship with God that strengthened me and gave me the courage to find my voice and not be ashamed of my past. I realized God has been walking along side me my entire life. Even in those moments I felt most alone and lost he has shown me that he has been there every single step of the way. This friend who I met through our youth group and had opened my eyes to a stronger relationship with God was put in my life for a reason. She once shared with me how she was jealous of how I was able to turn such a horrible event in my life into a testimony through a book and speaking out. The truth is during that same period of my life I used to be jealous of her relationship with God and my prayer at night would be “God I want to have a relationship with you the same way you have it with “………..” In time my relationship with the God began to grow and be fully engaged in the wonders he was doing in my life. My high school friend moved away for two years and when she returned I met up with her for coffee a year ago. I was stunned when she shared with me she no longer believed in God at all. Here this friend who had really opened my eyes to a strong relationship with God and now she was telling me she no longer believes. I was at a loss for words but felt God was telling me to share with her the impact she made in my life because of her relationship with God and how it strengthened mine. I could see this emptiness in her eyes. She has gone through many struggles with her family, herself, and goals she had set up for herself that seemed to fall through for what she had planned. I could see these painful events in her life had taken its toll and impacted her to turn away from God. A place I was once at in my life questioning if he was really even there and how a God could allow for one person to experience so much trauma and pain as a child. In the end it was these painful traumatic events in my life that have drawn me so close to God knowing and believing he had a purpose for me all along. A purpose he was going to show me when I was ready to listened to his message and instead of running from him running to him. I had run my whole life from men fearing them. For it was a grown man who raped me just weeks before my 7th birthday, then a teenage cousin who silenced my voice from 11-13 and used his power and control to abuse me. God however was one man I could run to and trust and know he was not going to hurt me but instead save me from sinking into an even deeper hole.
That same door Pastor Hybels used on stage is a door we all have in our lives and while we cannot push open doors until we are ready I have learned waiting on the other side can be life changing. The same way Pastor Hybels has been there for a nonbeliever who has been able to not push the door open in this man’s life but crack it open just enough for a glimmer of hope that this man can find God. I have experienced that in my own life. For sixteen years there has been a door to my past I have always been aware of that has been slightly cracked open but I feared opening it up for what would be on the other side. Behind that door was a chapter of my past I carried alone in silence for sixteen years of a brutal rape I feared to address because I knew it would be ugly. A past that never haunted me until I reached 20. I avoided that door and asked God to walk back to it with me when I was strong enough.
A year ago September 2007 I finally was ready and pushed that door to my past open knowing there was no turning back after I did it. In the past year I went through emotions of anger, pain, and despair. However I held onto my Faith and God was my anchor keeping me from drifting into a very ugly storm as a strong current wanted to sink me in pain. I realized I was not going to drowned in pain the way I had for so many years after what my cousin put me through and instead did what I knew God was calling me to do and that was not allow evil to rob me of my happiness and joy but instead let go of that anger and rage and forgive the sins of this rapist for I was not going to live another second of my life drowning in pain but instead soaring with a purpose to share with the world. A purpose God has for each and every single person in life. We were not put on this Earth just because, for each of us has a purpose for being here. I found my purpose through the tragic pain I suffered as a child that opened my eyes to an epidemic. An epidemic that will stop at nothing until I conquer it. I have taken on a tough challenge but I believe I can influence the world to hear my message. A message that comes from a voice that tried as a child to scream out and be heard but instead was silenced with powerful forces of evil. Evil I have conquered and sickness I have forgiven. I have discovered complete peace in my life and when people look at me and ask how can I be so strong? How can I be so brave? How can I forgive two men that took something from me I can never get back? And how do I plan accomplish such a huge task? The answer is simple “GOD!”
For through God all things happen according to his purpose and he has shown me my purpose in this life. I hope reading this has helped open a door in your life even if it is just a crack.