by Lysa TerKeurst, president of Proverbs 31 Ministries
Seventeen years ago, if you would have told me I would become a woman passionately in love with Jesus who lives her life to serve Him, I would have never believed you. I was a broken young woman from a broken family with a broken view of God. I'd been abused, abandoned, and horrified by my own choice to have an abortion.
Ironically, at this time when I was so very far from God, I still went to Bible Study and still went through the Christian motions. At Bible study I met a woman who became a close friend who loved the Lord with every fiber of her being. I not so affectionately referred to her as my "Bible Friend." She got on my nerves with her constant Scripture quoting. No matter what issue someone had, she was ready with a verse to help. Have a headache? She had a verse for that. Break up with your boyfriend? She had a verse for that too.
But something about her made me want to remain friends with her. She modeled what it meant to live the Word and not just quote it. There was a stark difference between religion as I understood it and what she called her relationship with God.
Though she had no idea of the junk I was dealing with, she was tenderly responsive to God's promptings. One especially hard day, I received a card from her. It would have been my due date for the baby I'd aborted. I knew as soon as I saw the handwriting the note would contain a Bible verse. Sure enough, it quoted Jeremiah 29:11, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
I wanted to toss the card aside, but something kept me focused on that verse. I read it over and over. This verse stood in such stark contrast to my flawed perception of being identified by my circumstances. This verse painted a possibility that the God of the universe loved me not for what I did right but rather simply because I was His. A child for whom He had great things planned. I didn't have to be the child of a broken parent; I could be a child of God.
In that moment I didn't know how to properly accept Jesus. I didn't have all the answers, and I knew for certain I had not been "good enough." But something deep in my soul was stirring with assurance this verse was truth.
There was just one word I knew must be uttered in response: "Yes." Wrapped in that yes, was the acknowledgment that God did exist, He somehow loved me, and I wanted Him in my life in a way I'd never had before. I didn't want a religion full of rules. I wanted God himself.
It would take many years to completely define and understand everything that "yes" meant. But this initial 'yes' was a step toward God. A step out of the darkness that blinded me. A step toward the light of truth. A step toward my true identity that wouldn't shift or fall apart under life's strains.
Interestingly enough, the rest of that verse shook my soul to attention: "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:12-13). Those words, "I will listen to you" and "you will find me," made God seem so personal, so touchable, so interested in a relationship with me. Me? The child of a father who didn't want me or love me is loved and wanted by the mightiest of Kings, the God of the Universe, my Heavenly Father!
This verse was brimming with promises my heart needed and wanted. According to this truth, it all starts with me seeking him with everything in me. Seeking, real seeking, would set my heart on a journey that I soon discovered would require more than just the routine Christian good girl checklist.
Okay, well maybe that last one is just my issue. But you catch my drift. So, I set my heart on a path to discovering more with Godóso much more.
This is what led me to write my latest book, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl. I want to be so certain of God's presence in my life, that I never feel like I have to face anything in my own strength or rely on my own perspectives. But, just going through the motions of these checklist activities will not in and of themselves fill our souls. They are good things, necessary things, but they must be done with the heart cry for God to lead us into a deeper and more life-impacting connection with Him.
Just like Colossians 3:1-2 encourages us to do, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Setting our hearts and our minds on God and letting His truths change us, rearrange us, and redirect us will help us not just know the message of Christóbut live it out!
Yes, seventeen years ago I was so very broken. But finally discovering how to stop limiting my experience of God to just the typical Christian checklist and on to seeking God Himself changed everything for me. And I became more than just a good Bible study girl.
Lysa TerKeurst is a wife, mother of five, conference speaker and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries where she can be heard daily on over 1200 radio stations. She has authored 13 books with her latest release being, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desires with God Not Food. Daily, over 300,000 subscribers enjoy her ministry's e-mail devotion that leads women straight to the heart of God. www.LysaTerKeurst.com
Taken from Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst. Copyright © 2010. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.