I have never just sat down to write.
I usually wait till I have something to write about.
So this is different.
Today I'm sitting in the library, at the college I attended.
I look across from me and I see these disgusting old chair/sofa things.
I once laughed hysterically at this undergrad guy, completely passed out asleep, squishing in between two of them to make a bed at 4 am during finals week.
I look to the other side of me and see out the window all the way across town.
I never knew you could see that far.
I honestly don't remember a time that I was here during the day on a Saturday while I was in college.
Sundays? Yes. Because otherwise I would just pretend to study and nap instead. (sorry mom)
But today I needed intentionality. I needed dedication. I needed focus.
I needed to get out of my house, out of my office, and out of my head.
So by friend intervention and her need to focus as well: here is where I ended up.
Back in time. At a table I've sat at numerous times.
Last weekend, I got the chance to attend a youth conference in Gatlinburg called Resurrection as a youth leader.
Fun fact: I attended this conference several times when I was in youth group growing up.
Naturally because of this, I was so excited all week.
Probably more excited than the actual youth were.
Then we got there.
And it wasn't just Jesus that showed up at this conference.
Satan was perched and ready, awaiting my arrival.
By the time the first song started for worship, I had tears welling up--threatening to pour over.
I could cover it. I could pretend I was so in awe of God showing up. I could say that the message just really hit me in the heart.
Then I'd be lying.
Satan is a vicious and vile creature. And the more you seek to serve, the more on fire you get, the more you do to try to further the Kingdom… the harder that snake is going to try to attack you.
And the way he attacked me that night, hurt so deeply and opened so many wounds all at one time… I didn't even know where to begin fighting.
I didn't think I had the strength.
"You aren't the girl that came here so long ago. You ran. You gave up what you could have been. See those people you remember from camp so many years ago? You could have done awesome stuff for the Kingdom too.. but you didn't. You chose other things. You chose sin. You became tainted and broken. You gave it up. What makes you think you could EVER be the girl you were so long ago?"
This is what I heard.
This is the dagger that slashed through my fragile, healing heart.
One of the most powerful and beautiful songs that brings me running as fast as I can back to the cross is the song "Forever Reign" by Hillsong.
You are true. Even in my wandering.
I was innocent when I was 12.
That was not a lie.
In this innocence, God had a plan. And I was part of it. I learned about Him. I believed in Him.
But I ran.
That was not a lie either.
By the time I was 16, I could have cared less about what God wanted for my life, what His plans were for His Kingdom for me.
His plans for me prevailed though.
That night as I listened to the words of that song, at a place where I had sat and worshipped so long ago.. this was the truth that my heart deciphered in the midst of the fear, the shame, and the gut wrenching lie that vibrated through my entire being:
"Look at what I did. I brought you here. Back to where you sat so long ago in awe of Me. You ran. But you came back. You wouldn't know the things I needed you to know had you not run. You would not be the woman I need you to be, had you not run. Don't you see? Look around! You are the same girl. I have made all things new. I have made you new. You are right where I need you to be. You are right where I put you. You have not missed it."
God is able to do so much more than we can think.
That night, I saw that I was never out of His hands. Not one.single.second.
Take it a step further.
As I sit in this chair, in this library--a spot that sat a lost, broken, shameful, sin and guilt ridden girl just three short years ago--I am surrounded by a sweet tea, my bible, my journal, my writing notes and I am currently listening to the song that makes me take up my cross and not just run.. but SPRINT after Jesus…. I know grace. I know Jesus. I know truth. And I know the power of all three.
I am living proof that God will never leave you, never forsake you.
You are not too far for Him to reach.
You are not too far to be in His plan.
You are part of His plan--right.this.very.second.
You are a plan.
He can take away all that sin, all that shame, all those broken and tattered pieces of your heart and show you that He has always been there.
He is making all things new.
From ashes, from dust, from grit and grime and dirt and mire and clay… You are beautiful. You are new. You are loved.
You are His.