Before I became a Christian my view of God was one of skepticism and unbelief. I thought of God as a Santa, someone who gave things to people when they asked. God was far away and not at all approachable. Jesus was a man in a storybook.
I was not raised in a Christian home, yet I do remember walking to a small church as a little girl to go to Sunday school. As I listened to the Bible stories, God and Jesus were unreachable to me, like characters in a book. I couldn’t touch them or feel them. They were songs sung to the music of an un-tuned piano.
I began to search for the meaning of life during my freshman year of high school.
We had moved again to a new rental home and another new school, and adjusting to life was normal for me. Every morning I talked with a girl at the bus stop — an honor’s student who lived with her parents in a stable home, much different from mine.
I wore the ratted up hair style like Diana Ross with fake eyelashes and white eye shadow. I listened to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and my life was not at all like her life, with a mom and dad and family dinners.
Every day as we waited for the bus this girl asked me questions, pursuing me and forcing me to think of God and church and life in general. Every day I argued with her. I could not see how a God could allow hard things to happen. My life experience had been much different than hers and my concept of ‘love’ was not something she could understand. We were friends speaking different languages. She challenged me often and left me with many questions.
The girl at the bus stop told me I could test God, that I could ask Him to show me who he was. I didn’t understand or believe her words at the time. How does one test a God who seems to know everything?
But one night out of the blue I decided to test her ‘God’.
My teenage sister was a drug addict and a runaway who had been living on the streets for a long time. I missed her greatly and wanted desperately to see her. We didn’t know if she was dead or alive. I remembered what my friend had told me at the bus stop – that God hears all prayers and listens — and while I didn’t believe it, I figured I couldn’t lose anything for trying.
I prayed a very simple but bold prayer from a heart that was searching. It was a long shot and full of despair.
“God,” I prayed, “I would believe, I think I can believe you, if you can find my sister and bring her home. If you are God, if you know everything, then you can bring her home tonight. When I wake up in the morning, I want to see her sleeping in her own bed. If you can do that God, then I will believe. If you can’t, then leave me alone.”
When I woke up the next morning and looked across the room, the room my sister and I shared, she was sleeping in her own bed. Somehow in the middle of the night the police had found her. She had been beaten and was very rough-looking, and the police had called my mother and brought her home.
She was sleeping in her bed, in our room. Just what I had asked for.
My sister didn’t stay long after that first night. I didn’t ask him to allow her to stay long. I just asked him for one night. She went back to the street, but I knew God had answered my prayer.
I believe now that God knew the only way I would trust Him, was for Him to show me an answer to a simple prayer — a prayer from the heart between an all-knowing God and a simple teen. A prayer that would become life changing for me. He knew that. Within a few months I began to trust Him, and the journey continues to this day.
I spent the remainder of my high school years in youth group activities, youth choir and surviving the home I lived in. The girl at the bus stop became my sister-in-law when we married brothers. The years since I first believed have not been easy, but God in his faithfulness has shown me over and over that as long as we ask from an honest heart, He will hear the cries of the broken.
I learned to trust when I didn’t understand the meaning. I learned about love without conditions. He was hope when I felt hopeless and peace when the peace was not found. He was love on a cross saying to me, “I care deeply for you.”
His ways are mysterious and wonderful and leave me always in awe of His abiding love. My first prayer changed my life’s direction forever.
The way God reached out to me is a wonderful and powerful reminder that He does indeed listen to the prayers of those who do not know Him. I was a spiritual misfit, without any idea of what it meant to believe or accept or understand a love that was not ‘conditional’.
Our God is a God who hears the simple prayers of those who don’t even know what to say or how to say it. The words do not need to be fancy or eloquent, but simply from a heart that is searching.
I didn’t believe until He showed me that no matter what I believed or knew to be true, His love was always there waiting. I will never doubt how deep, how wide, how precious His love is for us. He heard me and answered my prayer. He cared and He valued my heart.
My name is Sharon. I am a spiritual misfit. And I will always share how great the Father’s love for us is.
Sharon is a native Oregonian. She will have been married 41 years in November, and she and her husband have two adult children and six grandchildren, two kitties and a very old dog. You can visit Sharon at her blog Something to Think About and on Facebook.