I stand on a beach engulfed in a nighttime darkness. The sand is cold and dampened by the breath of the ocean. The still air is filled with the sound of ocean waves. Fear has stiffened me and I don’t know where to go.
Then I see a light in the distance. So I start moving towards it. At first I am walking, this sand is hard to trudge through. After awhile, my pace quickens. I don’t know where else to go except towards that light. It’s small, but flicking back and forth. I keep my pace.
Suddenly, there appears in the distance over the ocean another light. This one brighter and bigger. It’s rays allow me to see an outline of a boat ahead of me but still somewhat of a distance off. The tiny light slowly flickers away until it is sucked into the darkness. Suddenly I feel so alone, and far away from any speck of hope.
That’s how my story starts.
I’m home for my Winter Break. The plans have been set for me to attend the annual Winter Youth Convention. I was thrilled and nervous, but yet felt a twinge of guilt in the back of my mind. I thought didn’t deserve to go. Yet there I was, given an opportunity to attend something that would supposedly help me.
Where had the fire gone that was full life and passion. It was fueled from a summer of overwhelming worship and praise to God, and then as I went off to college my fuel supplies began running out. It diminished from fire into red hot coals; from red hot coals to ash.
An overwhelming shadow of sadness followed me around on those sunny days, and on cloudy days I was soaked through with a shower of gloom. And even though I was surrounded by thousands of students, I still felt a tinge of loneliness. As my roommate sat a mere 20 feet away, I still felt all alone.
Then I’m at Winter Youth among my fellow youth members (okay…I am the oldest in the group, next to my youth leader Bethany). Not only am I with my eleven other comrades, I am completely surrounded by hundreds of other young Apostolics. I felt uncomfortable and unworthy. “I didn’t deserve to be here.” I am constantly repeating in my mind.
After the first service I feel slightly uplifted. Yet I still feel chains of shame holding me back. I am choking in my own self doubt and fear.
The Next Day
I wake up feeling slightly tired and ready to go home. It’s during the first service when I feel a slight prick in my heart. Tim Vik is talking about how one can’t fall in love with a church or a pastor or a sermon, but must fall in love with Jesus. What had I fallen in love with? I question myself. Had I fallen in love with the constant feelings of sorrow?
Then he talks about a rose and how it is not just the big beautiful rose, but it is also the stem and thorns. To get to the beauty one must tend to the thorns and prune and shape it to get it to bloom. That was me. I was a rose, but minus the blooming part. I was a big ol’ thorn patch that needed to be tended to.
At the alter call I begin praying to God, and apologizing for how far I have drifted away. I drifted so far because I had purposely set sail for an island far away from the rest of humanity. Then the rain came. It began to wash away my layers of shame, and guilt, and all the dirt I had built up. God had began to prune away at all my thorns, and he was clearing away all the dead pieces I had attached to me. The light was slowly being allowed to shine back onto me.
It will be awhile before I can blossom into a rose, but still I am a thorn bush. He’s still pruning away at me, and watering me with his Word. His Spirit is surrounding me like the rays of the sun.
I’m no longer on that beach surrounded by a nighttime darkness. I have found my way to a large rock that stands above the beach. The sound of waves is more like a calming peace and it doesn’t fill the air with a sting of loneliness. So as I sit on my rock, I gaze out at the ocean and marvel at the Wonders of my Creator. How he could create something as big and beautiful like the ocean, and yet loves (unconditionally) something as little as myself.
So I’ll stand here. With my arms high and my heart abandoned, in awe of the One who gave it all. I’ll stand here. My soul surrendered to you, oh Lord, because all I am is for you.