Blah, Blah, Black Sheep
I like to believe that I always do things for the purest of reasons. It’s a silly belief, I know. So I accepted Jesus. I’m not totally sure, but I may have subconsciously hoped that if I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, He’d leave me alone. He didn’t. I was, however, successful at creating a weapons-grade internal conflict. As it turned out, post salvation Jesus was even more intrusive and didn’t play well at all with the old me.
Even worse than Jesus’ unrelenting expectations of me, were His followers. Why is it that the Christians that felt most strongly about speaking into my newly redeemed life were the people that, if given a choice, I would least want to be like? It’s so hard to submit to the spiritual authority of men that wear dress shoes with cargo shorts and sound like Jar Jar Binks.
The Hand I Was Dealt
The Bible says that, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. My story always felt a little more like, “In the beginning, God created the heathen and the worth.” The struggle to reconcile the humongous value God placed on me by virtue of His sacrifice with my prolific penchant for sin felt white-flag worthy. The reality was I was born with some severely counterproductive inclinations. We all have them. But my sin nature seemed mature beyond its years. The pull to dabble in my particular combination of the dark arts was there as early as I can recall. I didn’t want to go to the prom with my sin, but I loved standing just outside the gym so I could at least hear the band play. Not so close that my spiritual friends could associate me with them, but close enough that my sin-sick friends thought I was “being real.”
Even with all the angst and conflict, there were things deep in me that began to make noise. More than just intellectual tinnitus, they were noises that drew me in and dared me to consider. But, who was I? (Yoda voice) Ignore them I did.
Father, Forgive Me
I had a remarkable father that I knew and who knew me. Although not my biological one. My biological father was a ghostly apparition that made only one physical manifestation, when I was a young boy. He came. We talked. He left. Then he dissolved into the countryside, never to be seen again. I think he was really good at walking away.
My actual father, albeit adopted, was a man of truth, hard work, and honor. It took him dying to permanently jolt me into a genuine appreciation for my own honor. I don’t fully know why his dying triggered that in me. It was as if he had passed a baton on to me, one that I didn’t feel adequate to carry while he was still alive.
Even with that understanding taking residence in me, I still didn’t like myself all that much. It was more that I wasn’t happy about the whole of me. Yes, I still fed myself and showered often, but that was only to take the visual edge off the internal disappointment I grappled with.
The transition from dislike to qualified acceptance of myself was glacial, and took years to move my “I-Got-Hosed” needle appreciably. That relentless carpenter fellow simply wouldn’t let up. But it happened.
A switch had been flipped. The tumblers fell into place. I was no longer just tolerant of myself. I had found the heart of God beating in my flawed, odd, but willing chest. I understood that this odd fellow, me, was redeemed and acceptable to God. That makes me happy. It makes me happy because God didn’t alter me in order to have me conform to what I thought were examples of success, normality, purpose and even failure. He confirmed His pleasure with me by redefining those words within the context of me. The definitions of these things weren’t written on the clouds or etched on a granite edifice hidden somewhere in the Amazonian rainforest. They were personal and exclusive definitions and He assured me how beautifully I fit within them. Whoa!
If A Christian Falls in The Forest . . .
This was a hard fought understanding for me and one I now cherish more than I could ever convey. I won’t try. But I had learned too much to pretend otherwise. I didn’t need diplomas or certificates to be qualified to speak my heart. So what if I flunked everything but recess. That noisy spirit of mine had things it wanted to say. Hey, black sheep are still sheep.
This is where my new life chapter actually begins. I don’t know why but I wanted to write. If for no other reason than to dampen the incessant noise. I needed to do something. I had let too many life circumstances and other people’s opinions stop me for far too long. So, I wrote a book. I didn’t have the slightest idea if I could write anything of value or not. From that point, things went pretty fast. I went to one writers’ conference, signed with an agent, refined the manuscript and was then offered a book contract by Kregel Publications. I signed the contract and cashed the check. Hush. It happens. My first book: “Coffee, The World, and Jesus, but Not Necessarily in That Order” will be released in June of 2017. I’m working on my second book right now. Pretty freaky, huh?