I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18
When I was still quite young I began to be troubled by a nagging sense that I did not belong. I felt like a stranger even in the midst of my own family. I have a good family, and I knew they loved me, but I just began to feel that I was “one of them”. It was a sense that grew stronger and stronger over the years – bewildering and frightening me – and leaving me feeling isolated and alone. I just didn’t know who I was or where I belonged. I felt very much like an orphan.
This is not an uncommon experience I know. Many young people go through it. And the devil loves it. He likes to get in there and plant seeds of alienation and despair – and then he offers comfort in the form of drugs, violence and sex. Comforts that are of course no comfort at all, but only add shame and guilt to the already corroded self-identities. And they can then easily become addictions. Once it goes far enough your identity becomes caught up in the world that has swallowed you. You find yourself surrounded with people who are lost like you and you begin to believe you like them. You don’t have any respect for them and you don’t have any respect for yourself. You turn to your addiction for comfort – but now that it’s an addiction it’s no comfort at all – it’s slavery. And what used to make you high does nothing but maybe give you a moments respite from the horror story that is the life you feel yourself drowning in.
The devil wants you to get to the point where you feel so bad about yourself that you believe you are his child. And some people really do get that lost.
But that was never the plan. As we grow out of childhood we are supposed to turn from our earthly parents to our Heavenly Father for our sense of belonging and for our identity. That should be a normal part of growing up. But it’s not easy and there is so much wild confusion in this world that distracts us from it. I spiraled way down the wrong road. I know it was the prayers of others, especially my grandparents that made the difference for me. God kept sending people to help me on my way, and although I fought Him long and hard, now, when I look back, I shiver at the darkness that once bound me – and I am so grateful for the love and light that God pours out on me.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15
So now I know who I am and where I belong. I am a child of God and I belong with Jesus in Heaven for eternity. That’s why I like hanging around all of you at First Presbyterian. You are also children of God. And though we are, for outward appearances strangers, in my heart I feel the deep, eternal connection I have with you. Being with you affirms my identity and helps secure my faith. In your smiling faces I see the love and grace that my Father has for me. It’s wonderful!
But I know outside these walls a storm is raging. Many good people get swept up in the frightening chaos and become lost like I was. I think about them. I can’t forget that’s where I once was too. I know what it’s like. And I especially think about the people who shared the Truth with me along the way. I thank God for them. Even when I laughed at them, or smirked, or acted like I wasn’t listening – it was getting through to me, bit by bit.
But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:14
Will you pray with me that this week God would send me someone who I can share the Truth with – and that I would have the courage to do it?