A few years ago I attended a week long camp meeting. To be honest, I hadn't been looking forward to going at all. I had been very sick with a high fever for days and could not see spending a week at camp, let alone even getting out of bed. My friend,
however, talked me into going as if he knew somehow what was to come.
Despite my ambivalence I didn't have the heart to tell him that I couldn't (and simply just didn't want) to go. He was so excited. So I gathered up every bit of strength I had left
and plastered a smile on my face (all the while inwardly grumbling and worrying about how I was going to get through next five days). The trip to camp ended up being a lot of fun. So I found myself getting into the spirit of things rather quickly. I even started
feeling better before we arrived. In fact, I was feeling great.
The first service ended up being one of the most memorable and profound experiences of my life. It started off much like any other of the countless services I'd attended over the years.
I was sitting next to my friend and his little boy and quietly praying during the song service. Then out of nowhere it was as if Satan himself reached into the back of my head and seized my brain in a vice grip. For over a decade I had suffered near constant
migraines. On a pain scale I was never under a five. Most days I was an eight or higher. But the magnitude of this pain was something even I had never experienced. At this point several things happened at once. For one, I had a moment of the purest clarity.
I knew that God was about to heal me. I cannot explain it. I just knew. I also knew that Satan was about to lose. I even said, "Satan, this is the last migraine you're ever going to get. Better make it a good one." And as if the pain wasn't excruciating enough...it
doubled. I'm not even sure how I was still conscience. I remember Rick's little boy trying to sit on my lap and not even being able to move my head a centimeter in either direction. I was in the midst of agony and blissful peace. The tears I was shedding were
from both a place of torment and tranquility.
As the service continued God had placed a young man from Syria on my heart. As I sat praying for him the Holy Spirit came down on me like a gentle rain. To me, the idea of the Holy Spirit had always been
very intimidating, something unattainable. I finally understood what it meant when others talked about God living "in us."
When there was an alter call I bolted out of my seat. I ran into my pastor. With tears running down my face, I told him that I
wanted to be healed of my migraines. When the guest speaker prayed over me he barely touched the back of my head, but like the brush of a feather the pain instantly disappeared. Then just as suddenly the excruciating pain gripped me...as it had done before.
Then like a gentle whisper it was gone again. In this I was shown the shear magnitude of the power of God, and just how much effort Satan had to put forth to work against Him. The devil used everything he had and the Lord gently brushed him aside. I was essentially
a living, breathing metaphor.
When the service ended I was still basking in the presence of God even back at my cabin. I hadn't yet fully processed all of the gifts I had just been given. I sat in total darkness outside on the steps and silently prayed.
Just then I was staring into the most intense, exquisite, and passionate eyes I'd ever seen. In front of me was grace, love, compassion, mercy. I was staring into the eyes of Jesus. I knew this was true. However, I was staring into green eyes...and not
just green. They were every color of the spectrum (some I'd never before seen). This confused me. I had always pictured Jesus with brown eyes for some reason. I guessed that maybe this was how I was just picturing Him to look. Even with all that had happened
that evening and knowing that I just witnessed something very profound I kept this experience to myself for quite some time.
Two years later I was reading the book 'Heaven is For Real.' It is a book about a little boy named Colton Burpo who died and
spent time with Jesus in heaven. His dad writes about the many photos over the years Colton was shown and not finding the right depiction of Jesus. That was until they showed him a picture of Jesus painted by Akiane Kramarik, a young girl from Lithuania. I
decided to look up the paintings. When I found the pictures I nearly dropped my tablet. There staring back at me were the eyes of Jesus that had been seared into me since that night back at my cabin at camp. It was all the confirmation I needed.
giving His son and Jesus paying the ultimate price are not lost on me. I've known John 3:16 for as long as I can remember. I read the New Testament multiple times about all of the miracles Jesus performed and the sacrifices He made.
I knew what He did,
but I didn't quite understand or believe that He sacrificed himself for me until I saw Jesus' face. Because it was in those eyes where I saw the very depth of His love for me. In those eyes I saw that He would have freely sacrificed Himself even if it had
just been for me...or you. No one has, or ever will look at me with the all encompassing love that those eyes held. The gift Jesus gave me on that dark night in the middle of nowhere is one that I don't and never will deserve. Yet, like His dying on a cross
on Calvary, He deemed me worthy...as he deems you worthy.
There is a song by Big Daddy Weave called "My Story." It sums up my feelings perfectly.
"If I told you my story
You would hear hope, that wouldn't let go
and if I told
you my story
you would hear Love that never gave up
and if I told you my story
you would hear Life, but it wasn't mine
If I should speak, then let it be of the grace
that is Greater than all my sin
of when justice was served,
and where mercy wins!
of the kindness of Jesus, that draws me in
oh to tell you my story, is to tell of Him
If I told you my story, you would hear victory
over the enemy
and if I told you my story, you would hear freedom
that was won for me
and if I told you my story, you would hear Life
Overcome the grave
If I should speak, then let it be
of the grace that is Greater, than all my sin
of when justice was served, and where mercy wins!
kindness of Jesus, that draws me in
oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him..."
I don't know why he chose to show himself to me that night. I am flawed. I have made countless mistakes. I am human. Yet God has shown me the vastness
of his love, grace, and immeasurable mercy every single day of my life. He wants us to bring our burdens to Him and let Him bear our loads. He will not force himself on us, but will patiently wait for us to ask.
I will never take for granted that Jesus
died to give me life...even knowing just how incredibly imperfect I would be. Even knowing just how many times I would fail him and seek forgiveness.
Now that, to me, is love.