I was 17.
I was 17 and almost irrevocably broken.
Everything about who I thought I was had vanished that year, and everything that had taken up residence in my heart’s place was dying quickly and painfully.
I felt purposeless, directionless, Godless and without a family. The things I felt in that moment were true, but they would not have the last word.
I came to the place. It was a former cafe-turned tiny church. I was invited by my friend and reluctantly walked through the doors that Friday night.
It was here that it happened. A woman walked up to me and listed off my incredible list of brokenness – as if she had read my heart like a textbook. I kept listening. The words she said next would change my life forever.
“God loves you and wants you. He loved you then. He loves you still. Even now, He wants you ALWAYS.”
See, I knew what God wanted, I thought. I thought He wanted my purity, my worship, my obedience, my faith. Those things are all healthy, beautiful things, and they were the things I had refused Him. What shifted for me that day was this understanding: God wanted ME, not something FROM ME.
God wanted to GIVE, not TAKE. God wanted to HEAL, not BREAK. God wanted to SHAPE, not PUNISH. God wanted ME – almost irrevocably broken ME. In that moment, I realized He was the only one who could bind up my brokenness – that ALMOST was not enough to keep the Creator-God of the universe – who I knew of as a child, who I rejected as a teenager, who I did not think I could know because of who I had become – from loving me relentlessly.
It’s been almost 12 years. 12 years of allowing the relentless love of God to alter me completely.
I drove by the place yesterday. They tore down the cafe-turned tiny church. It’s now just a fence and dirt and construction equipment. What a strange feeling to see a place housing such an experience for me gone in an instant.
Do you want to know what I felt when I saw it – why I pulled over on the side of the road to take a picture of the nothingness?
I felt overjoyed. I am overjoyed that the love of my Jesus is not limited to one place at one time in one season of my life. God is vast, and his love for me and for you has more depth and reach than our minds can imagine on our most creative day.
And this: Seeing the nothingness – seeing that something can be there one day and gone the next . . . it’s a reminder to me of the pain and brokenness and weight I carried into that place almost 12 years ago, and how IN AN INSTANT, my pain was turned to joy.
IN AN INSTANT, what had a foundation and hallways and doors and endless walls in my heart was torn down by the love of a Good God who wanted LIFE and LOVE and FREEDOM for me.
I’m so glad I said yes.
P.S. I can’t get this song out of my head or my heart . . . YOUR LOVE BRINGS ME TO MY KNEES (by Hillsong)