I used to be an arrogant know-it-all, and I looked down my nose at others and thought that I was better than everyone else because I knew a lot of theology and apologetics. It was very humbling for people to tell me I was arrogant and unloving. Yet these people also gave me books that helped people get to know about Gods love, and what it meant to live by faith instead of our own self-efforts.
At first I tried to understand these ideas and my mind seemed to only think in circles over and over again, and I couldn’t understand it. One of the books I got from a friend was an audio-book, and I kept listening to it over and over and I couldn’t understand it. I guess I was hard headed or confused… but I had to listen to the audio book 10 times before anything changed in my life. I started learning about this in December of 2003 and it was 6 months later that things finally began to change in my life.
One thing that one author said that really hit me hard was this… He said that in 1 John 4 you can see the phrase God is love, and in 1 Corithians 13 we see the aspects of love… He then went on to say that, as an application you could think of it this way… Since God is love, you could replace the word love with the word God (in 1 Corinthians 13)… And if you add a few personal pronouns (like the word “you”), it could read something like this:
God is patient to you, God is kind to you. He doesn’t act envious, boastful or proud to you. He is not rude to you, He doesn’t act self-seeking, He is not easily angered at you, He keeps no record of your wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails, or His love never fails.
This surprised me, hit me hard, and dramatically changed my view of God. I went back to my Bible every day in May of 2004 and read 1 Corinthians 13 that way every day of the month. I was learning what it was like to be loved and I was learning a little bit about what it’s like to relax in God the Fathers hands. Over the next few days I tried to show this kind of love to people, but I had so much bitterness in my heart from being mistreated by a lot of people in the past, that all my efforts to love others simply fell flat and failed.
Another big thing I learned was that I should learn to relax and live by faith instead of my own self-efforts. I really had a hard time understanding that and it made my mind think in circles a lot.
A short time later in June I took a trip to the Mountains of NC, and I felt like God wasn’t changing anything in my life, even though it seemed like He should be helping me out a lot more then what I perceived.
I began to argue and yell at God for not helping to change my life for the better… It seemed like God was nudging my heart, and it was as if He was telling me that things would change for the better and that it would happen soon. I argued with God about that too, and figured soon to Him could be decades or centuries, but it seemed like He nudged my heart again as if He was reassuring me that it would be in the next few days.
I waited a few days and nothing happened, so, as I was alone and driving to a contemporary church meeting in the mountains. I began getting angry with God again. I began yelling at God for not changing my life for the better, in a few days, like it seemed like He was trying to impress upon me.
I told God that I tried to do all the moral things and church service things that I thought the Bible seemed to say to do (). I tried to show grace and love to people, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get this love into my heart and I couldn’t get the bitterness out of my heart, that, I had due to being mistreated in the past. I was ready to give up on God and Christianity. I was going to stay on the periphery and not be involved anymore. I was mad at God thinking he was not doing His part to help me. So I said to God, “If you want all of this stuff done, then You need to do it yourself or else give me some kind of super power to do it!"
At that moment it seemed like God spoke to my heart again. It was as if He said, “You say you can’t do it, and you’re right, you can’t do it. I never meant for you to do it by yourself in your own strength. You also said, “If I want it done that I need to do it myself or give you some kind of super power.” Well, that’s right too. So that’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to live my life through you by my power. if that’s what you want.”
I told God, that, if that was Him speaking to my heart, that yes, that is what I wanted and needed.
When I got back from my trip and went to a Bible study group from the contemporary IC I attended, a few people told me that they noticed that I acted very different and it was like I wasn’t even the same person any more. People said that all my bitterness was gone, I was more loving and kind, and I wasn’t arrogant… They said I was actually humble, honest and real with people, instead of trying to act like I was better than everyone else.
As Wayne stated in Chapter 8 - “For some people it is coming to the end of themselves in a cathartic moment of surrender.” I would say that this is what happened to me.
I would even have to admit, that, when I had that big argument with God, I was crying, and I was very emotional. I was very emotional because I felt very frustrated with my life, and fed up with the status quo of my life, which made me feel like I was a total failure, as if nothing in my life ever seemed to work out right. If anyone else feels like this… you are not alone… and yes sometimes it takes a long time to get to a place where you can sense that there has been any change in your life. When you are feeling frustrated and sad, I strongly recommend asking God the Father to help you…
And that… is the rest of the story.- - As the radio announcer used to say.