Breaking

I will tell them, “Come back, and I will cure you
of your unfaithfulness.”
They will answer,
“We will come back, because you
are the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 3:22, CEV)

Project 168 is a film festival where directors randomly choose a Scripture verse and have 168 hours (a week) to make a movie inspired by the verse.

The film Breaking, inspired by Jeremiah 3:22, brought me to think about God in a way I never had. 

It’s hard to believe God would do this for us.

And yet, from the moment I watched the movie, I knew it was true, because it is exactly how my journey of faith has been.

I was raised in church.  I memorized Scripture verses.  And I thought I loved God.  I remember my first prayer for salvation at probably about four years of age.

It wasn’t my last.

As a seven year old, I would lie awake at night thinking about Hell.  I was afraid of isolation and fire.

One night, I asked Him to come into my life.

I thought I knew what love for God was after that, and I think I really did.  I loved God and I felt His Presence in my life.  I radiated God and I wanted to follow Him.  I didn’t put it that way; I didn’t even know what following was, but I was ready.

But then I found out becoming a Christian wasn’t supposed to be about a radical life change.  You were supposed to do things the same way.  Christians weren’t radical.  They were just like everybody else.  Only, they were going to Heaven.

And somewhere between eight and ten, I totally lost what it was to love God.

I had times of trying to find that love again.  At thirteen, I thought I discovered God’s love again at a church camp.  But the next year, I used that new love I thought I’d found and tried to take it on a summer mission trip with me.  The trip was like Armageddon to my faith.  Any hope I had for God’s love was almost leveled.  And even if He loved me, I hated Him, and I knew He knew it.  I had seen what I thought was Christianity at its worst: two-faced, back-biting, deceitful, coercive bullies.  I didn’t want to be in that group anymore.

I came back from that trip feeling like I had given God a chance to show He loved me, and He had showed He didn’t, and now we understood each other and it was time to move on with life.  And at the same time, I was crazy afraid of Him.  I didn’t want to go to Hell.  So I played prayer games where I would hide my animosity, pray for salvation, ask for forgiveness, and move on.  The problem was, I couldn’t move on.  So I started cycling through prayers like a record on a loop.  It was a nightmare, and I didn’t know how to get out of it.

I still (sometimes) went to church, and I learned a smattering of theology, enough that I thought I was really smart.  And God became a frustrating logic puzzle for me that I couldn’t figure out.  Have you ever seen those brain teasers that are two wire objects mixed all together? I always set those down on the table and stop trying to figure them out.

I didn’t like anything that made me feel dumb.  And, in the same way, I tried to set God down, and out of my life.  I couldn’t sort out any more whether He loved me or hated me, or how good was really different from evil.    Everything was all twisted up for me.

My dad got sick, and that was like the last strike against God to me.  I was sure He was proving to me once again that He hated me.

I had been bothered for years by the idea of predestination.  I believed God chose who He wanted and who He didn’t, and so I knew it was all over for me.  The truth was, if God chose who He wanted, I was never making it on that list.  There was no way I could compete.  I was the worst of the worst: a Christian turned traitor.

On the other hand, there was no way, even if God chose the worst people, that He would pick me, because my life was boring and dumb.  I played video games all the time.  If God was wanting to show how good He was by picking the least desirable, I’d still get passed up for somebody who had been an exciting sinner, like a serial killer or something.  That was really how I thought–except, I didn’t think that way, because I didn’t allow myself to think that way.  If I was going to Hell, I was going to Hell.  Why would I want to think about that ahead of time?

I always held out for the hope that there was some kind of “lawyery” way I could get into Heaven, like maybe God would take me in because I’d prayed the right prayer, even though He didn’t love me.

I lived in this stupid soup of meaningless drowning.  It was so dark in my head that I didn’t even try to find a light switch.  I thought at least I knew myself, but if there had been a mirror in front of me, I would have started talking to it.  I didn’t know who I was.

That is, until one day, I had a crash.

I didn’t hit the steering wheel of my car.  But I did have the sense of waking up to a whole new world.

Where in the world was I?  And how had I gotten there?

For the first time in 18 years, I saw the love of God.  Only, what I was seeing wasn’t the love of a God who picked me because I was an adorable 8-year-old with an awfully sharp memory for Scripture and who hadn’t done anything too awfully bad.

I was seeing the love of a God for an adulterer.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

I had been so unfaithful to God, so horrible to Him, so monstrously unlovable for years and years and years after committing to follow Him forever.  There was no way, no way, NO WAY God could want me back.  It was all over for me.  It had to be.  I was scared, so scared Hebrews 6:4-6 had been written about me.  I knew I should not be allowed to come back.

They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. (Jeremiah 31:9a, NIV)

I couldn’t believe God was opening the door I had shut.  I wondered if I was deceiving myself.  I still ask myself that when I think of who I am and what I’ve done.  But it comes down to John 3:36 for me:

And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (NLT)

Anyone.

I came to see that I could only have been chosen if God invites everyone.  Everyone.  Even the worst of the worst.  Even the traitors.  Even me.

If you are breaking, and you think there is no way God would give you another chance, I hope you will think about me, and know He does.

Will you fall down on your knees before Him, so that He can run to your rescue?

I will tell them, “Come back, and I will cure you
of your unfaithfulness.”
They will answer,
“We will come back, because you
are the LORD our God. (Jeremiah 3:22, CEV)

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Published in: on November 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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