When thinking about writing an autobiography, my mind immediately races with questions. What is most important? What should I write about? What should I leave out? Should I write on my childhood, or my changing passions? My accomplishments, or my learned-from-failures? Then I think back to a chapel speaker, Phil Jackson, who explained to us that if our lives were a book, our time on earth would only be the preface, and the rest of the endless paged book would be eternity. So all I have is a one-page preface to be the summation of my entire earthly existence. What would I want that to say? If I died today, what would be important for those pages? It’s taken me a while, but I now realize that the only thing important about me is Christ. With that realization comes a freeing, joy-filled, awe-struck wonder about His plans and His ways. When I think back on my short 23 years I see his fingerprints all over my story. I could not see them in the moment, but my, how they are clear now.
As a birthday gift, a dear friend gave me a copy of Streams in the Desert, a daily devotional by Mrs. C. E. Cowman. I love it dearly, and the worn pages show it. She dared me to see the other side of my story through this passage:
“God hedges in His own that He may preserve them, but oftentimes they only see the wrong side of the hedge, and so misunderstand His dealings. It was so with Job (Job 3:23). Ah, but Satan knew the value of that hedge! Through the leaves of every trial there are chinks of light to shine through. Thorns do not prick you unless you lean against them, and not one touches without His knowledge. The words that hurt you, the letter which gave you pain, the cruel wound of your dearest friend, shortness of money–are all known to Him, who sympathizes as none else can and watches to see, if, through all, you will dare to trust Him wholly.”
With those words stirring in my heart, I wondered how my story would sound, if it was told from my Dear Heavenly Fathers’ eternal, omnipresent, and omniscient perspective. Here’s what I came up with:
“Betty? You want me to tell you the story about my daughter, Betty? It would be a joy. Like all my children, I have been excited for Betty to know and love me since I made time dawn. And oh how I love her so. I allowed her to be born into a rough home. As I watched generations of sin begetting sin, always knowing that one day she would be in their evil arms, I was full of anger. And as she was neglected and abused for the first few years of her life, I had to in my anger, remind myself of the ways in which she will glorify me through this one day. I protected her in more ways than she will ever know. I kept her safe on so many nights and whispered in her ears that she was special, and beautiful, and treasured, and loved, when no one else would say it. I gave her a younger brother to love and play with and take care of. She learns so much from him about empathy, and compassion, and patience. I pulled her and her brother from that environment when she was four and started her healing process right away. I erased memories from her mind, so she would not and could not replay anything that hurt her. From that moment on, I infused her with joy and positivity. I knew she was going to need it. It was directly from me and didn’t make any sense, and it wasn’t until years later when she understood why.
While Betty was in the healing arms of her grandmother I was preparing Bob and Karen Pompell to be her parents. They had faithfully prayed to me for 15 years to give them more children. Week after week, month after month, as they tried and failed, my heart broke to tell them no time and time again. But I knew that if I gave them another child, they would not listen to the Holy Spirit when the time came to take in Betty and David. I had prepared their church family to help them during this painful process, and was so proud of the way they loved the Pompells. It was a beautiful picture of my body at work. I allowed them to go through this pain for the children. It didn’t make sense at the time, but it was the only way.
I remember when Betty was 8 years old, lying on the top bunk of her bunk bed asking Karen about my Son. Betty wasn’t scared into believing because of the reality of hell. She wasn’t pressured by her mom. She wasn’t asking because everyone else seemed to be doing it. She really wanted one thing. True love. And all she knew was that she was told I would love her forever, no matter what she does. And she wanted that badly. You can image the party in heaven the moment she accepted my perfect love on that warm July night.
Karen and Bob were great parents to Betty and David. They faithfully took them to my house to learn about me; they encouraged them to look and think like I do; they lived out the Fruits of the Spirit to my children. They infused her with a passion for me at an early age. She is so dear to me. (He chuckles) Like I said before, I had given Betty a very specific personality to do the work I have planned for her, but she had no idea what that was in high school. She knew she loved music, and she loved people, and she loved me. Now, that is how I programed her, but not in that order. She began to seek approval in other places, and she did not love me very well at all. I had made her for relationships, but she began to idolize people, and long to please them over pleasing me. She became very selfish. And I gave her the gift of music to spread joy and tell my story through tune, but she used that gift for her own advantage-trying to get men’s approval. When Betty started looking into colleges, there were many people speaking into her life and telling her what to run after. Not many of those suggestions were running after my glory. She visited school after school from Kentucky to West Virginia and everywhere in between. Everyplace she visited, I purposely gave her no peace. I withheld peace because I have something much bigger than a college degree planned for her. During her years in higher education I was committed to molding Betty both skillfully, intellectually, and spiritually, into the woman I know she is going to be.
So I gently led her to Lancaster Bible College where I used so many difference men, women, and circumstances to chip away her sin and make her more like my Son. She often time resisted. She is a stubborn one. But fortunately, I am more persevering than she is stubborn. She didn’t like looking like me at first. In her pride-soaked soul, she wanted to look like Betty. She wanted to be different and unique and center stage. And then I took her through a season of looking at her scars. Looking at her past, her childhood and asking her “what”. What is she going to do with these scars? I reminded her of my Son, Christ; after I raised him from the dead he went back to the group and did what? He showed them his scars. That was the only way Thomas, and frankly if we are honest, most of the men there, would believe that I am truly God. People want to see that proof. And my dear, delicate daughter, Betty, is that proof. She began feeling comfortable telling her story, which was really my story. And as she shared my story she began to love me more and look like me more, not to mention touching other people’s lives. And then she realized what joy and satisfaction comes not in losing her identity to me, but finding her identity in me.”
I fail him so often, yet he is so loving. He is so kind, so good to me. And I am forever grateful that He chose to let me love Him. I want to serve Him with the life He has given me. I want people to understand, adore, and desire God more because of our interactions. Is that through public speaking? Through a leadership positions in a secular job? Through humbly serving? Through writing? Mentoring? I don’t know exactly what that looks like. But this I do know, if I stay rooted in his Word, he will give me wisdom and discernment to figure out the plan he already has set in motion for me to fulfill. (Jeremiah 29:11)