“Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.”
-From the hymn ‘Abide with Me’
As a little girl, on Sunday mornings, I would head to Sunday School more excited for the donuts in the fellowship hall than the stories within the classroom. Every week we were supposed to memorize verses and recite them for our teacher, garnering stickers for a job well done. And all I can remember is the fast paced study on the way there and the sweaty palms waiting for my turn knowing the words would not come out right. It became a game of getting more stickers rather than the pure joy of building up a storehouse of armor.
And yet those brief memories, in the classroom with familiar faces, the yellow and blue ceramic Jesus picture from a teacher, the Christmas concert and orange and apple filled paper bags, stirred my heart for more. And more He brought. Through people.
I can still remember the summer I headed to camp with a dear friend. And my eyes were opened. What seemed familiar and ordinary to the kids who went year after year, was new to me. The songs, the telling of the story of Jesus, the simplicity of the Gospel and the camaraderie amongst friends. And more stirring happened in my heart. I remember praying a prayer and longing for more but life didn’t just fall into place as I thought it would.
There were more people, more friends, more boys, more mistakes than I could ever count. A lifetime of regrets and joy intermixed. Rebellious and perverse, searching for love and acceptance, even though the only thing I ever wanted was already abiding with me. So many mistakes were made, mistakes that have had consequences. It’s been a bumbling, fumbling road to now, and yet somehow looking back, I’m not sure I would want to change everything that’s happened. Some things, yes. But others no.
For it’s taken a lifetime so far to understand and begin to grasp His love for me. For life is happening all around, shaping and reshaping what we thought we knew and what we now know, and all I know fully to be true is that He has not left me.
He’s always been abiding with me…
I’ve only needed to find myself in Him.