A Look Backward and Peek Forward

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Freedom, God Speaks | 18 comments

sunset best

 

Perhaps it was the two excruciating hours I spent in the chair – or maybe the lack of sleep worrying about the two hours – but I had a spiritual experience in a dental office today.

As she began chipping my front crowns away for replacement, my mind went back to the day they were first put on. I was 19yrs old. A few weeks before the accident, my life took a 180 degree turn from being an opinionated, agnostic teenager to a loved crazed Jesus follower – literally overnight.

The sudden shift from party-girl to church-attender was a bit of a shock to people who knew me. Everything about my life changed. All I wanted was to know more about my new found Savior. I wanted to learn how to live like the people I once mocked and now deeply admired.

My early obsession was to hear the voice of God like others said they experienced.

The day of my accident I heard it – unrecognizable at the time, but clearly his voice.

Without going into great detail, the Holy Spirit warned me not to go sailing that day. It was a deep sense that grew more intense the closer I got to the small sailboat at the shore’s edge. The thought amplified to the point I was certain, if I went along – someone would get hurt.

I ignored the unfamiliar voice, and placed my foot into the boat at the same moment a rogue wave hit it, throwing me forward and knocking out my front teeth.

My salty body surfaced from the sea with a blood covered face and hands raised high to the sky. Unashamedly I praised God – MY Savior, the one who speaks.

On my way to the doctor’s office he spoke again. The Lord softly told me, “My sheep know my voice”. It wasn’t until weeks later I learned this was a familiar verse from the Bible.

I don’t ever want to forget that day.

Lent began this week.

I came home from my dental appointment to a blog in my inbox from Jennifer Dukes Lee. I read about her decision to give up looking in the mirror until Easter in order to refocus her attention from herself to Christ. My heart was pierced. Just moments earlier, I was plotting how to avoid all human contact until the permanent crowns came in. I had been glued to my mirror all the way home, fixated on my ugly temporaries.

Jennifer’s words became a mirror to my brittle soul.

I want to return to the same innocent pursuit I had when my teeth were knocked out. Nothing else mattered to me, but his voice. I didn’t care what I looked like or who saw my toothless smile.

As crazy as it sounds, I was sad to say good-bye to my old crowns today. In some strange way I felt I was losing old friends. Although they have been a part of me for a long time, they’re NOT me, not even my real teeth. They’re space holders, in place of the real thing.

I believe today was a sneak preview of what’s to come. One day I’ll shed this temporary outer covering altogether, all my space holders.

We will take nothing with us when we go – none of the stuff we’ve accumulated or grown so familiar with – including our bodies. Today – now – is a good time to begin saying good-bye to the things we cling to. Things we THINK define us.

Lent helps to reposition our thinking, reevaluate what we cherish, and tear down the idols we’ve comfortably welcomed into our hearts. Imagine, old teeth coverings – one of my idols.

Thank you for covering your mirrors today, Jennifer. Thank you for turning a mirror toward me, so I could clearly see what blocks my view of seeing who I truly am – his beloved – his treasured sheep.

 

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29

 

 

Linking up today with #TellHisStory

18 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness, what a powerful story Pat. Thank you for being so vulnerable and honest here. I’m inspired and have a lot to think about in my own heart. God bless you…

    • Thanks for the feedback Lucy. I’m sorry the post went out twice. I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong – just one more tasty slice of ‘humble pie’ I guess. Bless you!

  2. “Things we THINK define us”, can be fairly far reaching, can’t they. Very thought provoking and introspective. Thx Pat.

    • Yes, very far reaching. Apparently Jennifer’s book Love Idol, focuses on our true identity and addresses the misguided cultural traps we’re prone to fall into. It comes out in April. Thanks for visiting Brenda!

  3. It is amazing to me that an encounter with God is anything less than radical and life changing, and it blesses me when I hear people say that they did a 180. Your honesty is refreshing, Pat. Thank you for sharing your story. Bless you!

    • For sure Dawn, nothing less than “radical and life changing”! Thank you for visiting and for commenting. Blessed, I am.

  4. I think for a lot of us, it does take a major trauma for God to get our attention. I too went through high school and beyond until my children were pre-teens before I really understood what it meant to have Jesus in my heart. It was life transforming and I so often wonder about all of the years I conveniently kept HIM at a distance. I am so grateful and thankful that my days and nights are more secure because I know I have the grace and blessings and security only Jesus can provide. This was another great message Pat!

    • I love hearing a little bit of your story here, Linda. Thanks so much for sharing. Where would we be without the marvelous grace He lavishes on us so freely. Blessings to you.

  5. If I’m totally honest I have to say I’m pretty phobic about damaging my teeth! Your story hits a tender spot for me. There are lots of things I value and protect… things I hope I would be as willing to say goodbye to. I owe the Lord everything and I love him desperately. I don’t really “do” lent, but I’ve been reading lots of posts about it and am considering participating. Thank you again for sharing your stories Pat. I really enjoy them!

    • I don’t think you’re alone about your tooth phobia, Allison. Fortunately, he gives us grace when we need it.
      Have you read Jennifer Dukes Lee’s blog or Ann Voskamp’s recent posts on Lent? They’ve both shed helpful light on the subject. It’s never a bad idea to press in close to our Savior, is it.

  6. I love this story! It makes me sing a song that I’ve been doing in worship lately…”Oceans”. I can hear your voice sharing your testimony of that fateful day. xoxo <

    • OCEANS by Hillsong? I love that song, “Your grace abounds in deepest waters….there I find you in the MYSTERY”! Such inspiration – I can hear you singing it, Donna. Thank you so much for being here, I appreciate your input very much.

  7. You are an Amazing writer, Pat! I love the subtle shifts in this piece. Amen and Right On, Sweet Sister……the message is so clear and beautifully crafted. Thank you!

    • Conni – thank you. I so appreciate your input. Trying to effectively convey matters of the heart is harder than it looks and sometimes the original intent gets lost in the process. Still learning. Blessings!

  8. Pat, I remember that incident! You came to church the next day with swollen lips! I was shocked you made the effort but church was where you wanted to be! You were so intent on telling all of us to obey God at any cost. You spoke about how the Lord told you not to go and you went anyway. Actually, you “preached” that day as you held all of us spell-bound as you spoke of your experience! All of us learned from that terrible experience. But you really had our admiration as we saw your reaction to what happened. There was no blaming God, bitterness or anger, just sweet brokenness, humility and hunger for more of Jesus! It’s a privilege to watch you go through life and handle these hard times. You have remained beautiful inside and out all these years! Bless you tonight!

    • You have a better memory than me, Jeannie. Thanks for bringing the day back to life for me. I’m fairly certain the choir sang a song about God’s sheep knowing his voice that day too. He’s so good. Bless you, my friend.

  9. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Hope you’re feeling better now.
    One of my favorite scriptures too BTW 🙂

    • I’m feeling fine Sara, thanks! Glad you enjoyed the story.

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