I never grew up in a church. The only time I went was with friends, which was not very often. There were many times I said, "I have accepted Jesus in my heart" or "I found Jesus." But I never felt anything. I was always under the assumption that you just say "Yes, Jesus I invite you into my heart" and then you would have this amazing, overwhelming presence of Jesus wash over you. (Which I never felt.) I thought I was supposed to accept him, and then he was supposed to do all the rest. And since I never felt that, I thought that I wasn't worthy of him . . . that he didn't want me.
I came with some family members [to Believe God Can Do Anything in Des Moines] because I felt obligated. But listening to the different speakers, it started to make sense. Listening to Christine and how she explained that you can't just throw everything at Him and say, "Here you go, now fix my problems." How things you've done in your past that make you feel broken does not disqualify you from having a...
In 1897, Johnson Oatman Jr. wrote the words to a simple yet profound hymn. It was written for young people to help them learn what is really worth counting and also to remember who can be counted on. In particular, Johnson wanted people to learn that they should count their blessings when times were hard. His song begins with these words:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
My daughter Hope sits down to play a hymn on the piano. She keeps the rhythm of the song, she keeps harmony, by doing nothing less than counting – that is what she does. She counts. The music teacher of a friend once said this to his students about how to keep the right beat of a song: “When you are a musician and you stop counting, it’s like running around in the forest,...
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NIV 1984)
I put my head against my bedroom wall, closed my eyes, and whispered, “There’s no way.” 10 years ago, my world collided with what seemed like an impossible invitation from God: adopt two teen boys from war-torn Liberia.
No matter how many times I whispered, “there’s no way,” this nagging sense of possibility wouldn’t leave me. It wove its way through every fiber of my being until I stood up and shifted everything I thought my family would be with one weakly whispered, “Yes.”
I can honestly say, there were moments of sheer joy where I felt reassured that I’d heard God right.
But there were many other moments where life felt chaotic, messy, and really hard. There were tears. There were times I wondered if I’d heard God wrong.
There were more times even after we adopted where I said,...