Real Voices for November 2012

Chris StumpThis article appears in both our offline and online newsletters.  To receive articles like this along with the full newsletter online via email or offline through the postal service please sign up here.

Remember the first time God called you,” a friend said to me late in my college career as I grappled with a multitude of things—what to do with my life, ongoing struggles, and even bouts of depression. That phrase stuck with me throughout the years. I recently went back to my college town to see old friends and experience fall weather that is non-existent in Florida. Going back, I always reminisce and reflect on all that transpired there. It was in college, after all, that the Lord called me to pursue Him, met many of my needs, and truly transformed my life.

So as I drove the familiar streets, walked on campus, and met with old friends, I thought a lot about my younger self. I went with one of my friend’s whose church now occupies the same chapel we had our weekly meetings in for the local Exodus ministry. I stepped inside and gazed up at the same stained glass window of Jesus, resurrected, walking towards a crying Mary Magdalene that I looked at nine years ago as an 18 year old entrenched in confusion, shame, and insecurity.

I grinned.

The last 9 years have been a whirlwind of emotion, freedom, bondage, confusion, and clarity. I see my 18-year-old self as a boy with blinders on and a shackle of deception keeping him bound to self-loathing and fear of relationship. The eyes that looked up at the stained glass window recently were much clearer, and could see much better than years ago. I still have struggles and battles to fight. I sometimes teeter on the verge of depression, and the waves of insecurity lap up at the shores of my mind. If I didn’t have the past, I could easily fall into hopelessness.

Remember the first time God called you.”

The past may remind us of broken promises, abuse, mistakes, or loss. The past also reveals God’s faithfulness and can remind us of healing, triumph, and joy. When we are entrenched in the mud of today, it’s hard to look back on God’s character being proven over and over in our lives. We forget His grace, or the time He met us in our deepest need. We forget the trials He brought us through. We tend to think that our current trials are the times when God abandons us. I know I do. But remember the journey God has taken you on up to this point. Remember the time He called you to be His—His beloved.

I took up journaling about a year into my journey of choosing Christ over my same-sex feelings. I’m so thankful I did. Any time I get in a rut or start to see the mound of stressors and struggles as greater than the authority of Christ, I go back and read journal entries—prayers I once wrote down sometimes ten, fifteen, and a hundred times. Many of those prayers have been answered, and when reading those prayers I can recall immediately when the Lord heard and answered my cries. The struggles heaped up shrink in the midst of His proven faithfulness.

I love going back to the place that served as a benchmark on my journey. It always reminds me of God’s presence and orchestration in my life. It reminds me of where I’ve come from, and the steps laid out by the Lord to bring me to where I am today. If you are struggling, and the mountains of worldly troubles seem to block the Lord’s light, I urge you to do what a dear friend told me to do: “Remember the first time God called you.”

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