Mable Hill

Denial and Doubt Color My Season of Transformation

It is a startling event,
an awakening of sorts,
when one stands in the midst of God
and suddenly gets a glimpse into the magnitude
of the words Holy,
and Omnipresent.

It happened to me in November 1990.
Even though I was not gasping for my last breath;
Nor down and out with no place to turn but God.
I wasn’t even at church,
where I managed to take up space on a pew, most Sunday mornings
and silently ask forgiveness for my behavior the week before.
Meeting Jesus up close and personal is a game changer.
It is a moment,
no matter how brief or glorious or frightening,
that reduces one to the nothingness he really is.
For me, it struck with more impact than anything I have ever experienced.

Like knowing any truth
which will cause you to stand firm against all criticism against it,
meeting Jesus is an event that puts to rest all doubt that he exists
or that he is God.
It’s just that simple.

I always thought I would stand in front of God someday.
After I died.
And because I asked Jesus into my heart at ten years old,
I thought someday, after a long life, I would get a glimpse of God;
On his throne while St. Peter directed me to my mansion on a street of gold
and thankfully not relegated to the fire and brimstone in hell.
I knew I was a sinner.
But thanks to an evangelical preacher,
who week in and week out assured me through his sermons
that I was a child of God
and therefore forgiven no matter what.
I rested comfortably
in the “get out of jail free card” I received
when I professed to be Christian.
As a result, I ignored the words of Jesus
when he taught, ‘Follow me’ and ‘Go and sin no more.’
Perhaps it was that philosophy about life
that caused the Lord to drop by my house for a visit.

It was a defining moment.
A time when what was, had been modified by circumstances outside my control
and left me with what is.
I didn’t consider the encounter with Jesus as a defining moment at the time;
but something happened in the brief visit
and I was changed.

There were several defining moments in my life.
Many of which were negative, filled with loss and suffering.
I had been able to adapt to those blows
and move forward with the plans for my life.
However, in this defining moment,
a positive experience,
it was as if Jesus had served me the Jim Jones laced Kool-Aid
or given me the Nurse Ratched lobotomy.
I was no longer a fair-weather Christian,
but one who wanted to know more about God,
—so unlike me—
and the primary reason I soon thereafter
began turning into a church lady.

You will be no more surprised than I am
if you are expecting me to write you a very nice daily devotional,
for I think I could do that after twenty-five years of Bible study and teaching.
No, I wrestled with the Lord
for more than a year about this
—and lost—
and I don’t get to share my brilliant mind with you at all.
No, I get to make confessions to you
about how little I know and understand about God.
I get to confess the ugly truth about a church lady
who thought she trusted the God in whom she believed but didn’t.
(I got that epiphany about the time he took me out of my church
and sat me on my butt, to read my Bible alone
without the help of my preacher’s opinions, thank you very much.)

I’m not thrilled about this journey,
primarily because I like to know why before I do anything;
But also, because I’d rather look perfect.
I’ve worked so hard to do that.
However, I am thrilled to tell you how amazingly patient
and loving and faithful the Lord has been,
through all my grumbling, kicking and screaming to break free from this place,
that I’m convinced is the valley of the shadow of death.

Psalm 23:4 (NIV)