"...But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." - Luke 15:20b
Towards the end of that summer that I spent at Devil's Elbow, my teacher dismissed me. Having no where to go, I managed to gain the sympathy of my earthly father, and he allowed me to move back to his place. I had a friend help sneak my lab equipment near my dad’s place. I separated it into three parts and stashed them in various places near my father’s house. Shortly after I moved in to my Dad's home, it became apparent that something was very wrong with my behavior. Not long after moving there, my step-mother happened upon a small stash of my supplies in the garage while investigating my behavior. I was immediately kicked out and told not to come back.
Being homeless for sometime, I finally got my mother to sneak me into my grandma’s basement where she was staying at the time. I had to sneak around because if the man my grandmother was living with found out I was there he would call the sheriff and have me arrested. I moved my lab and supplies into the field a few hundred meters behind the farmhouse and hid them in a blackberry bush. During the day I would put on my backpack and head to town to gather supplies, and at night while everyone slept I would quietly cook a batch of meth on the back porch. One night, for whatever reason, I picked up my mother's bible and began to read. I read Revelation at first and was captivated. If you can imagine a half-crazy and sleep-deprived meth addict reading revelation then I think you can draw a general conclusion of what was going through my head. It was profound and powerful, and I was troubled by a number of verses, especially one in particular: "I come quickly". There was an unbeknownst fear those words brought to my heart, and being as skittish as a squirrel on coffee beans, I began to be terrified by words that I read.... Yet I could not stop reading.
One special night in particular I opened up to the book of Ephesians and I read through its entirety. As I read, the power of the Holy Spirit descended upon me and through Paul's letter God spoke directly into my heart. When I had finished I was overcome with this uncontrollable joy, which was bizarre because if I were to take a look around at my surroundings and even worse, at my own self, you'd think I would burst into tears of grief or perhaps vomit on the floor. Instead His wonderful presence came upon me which caused me to rejoice in a way that was unknown to me. I lept up from the floor where I was reading, I had no one in the room to celebrate with but my mothers dog, a hairy black chow-chow named Sasha. I lifted her up and twirled about with her in my arms like some dramatic romance scene you'd see in an old film. Setting her down, I ran out of the room to find my mother. When I found her, I tried to tell her what Christ had done and how wonderful He is, but she looked at me strangely and perhaps a bit afraid. So I ran back to the room, and fell on my face praising the name of Jesus Christ and giving glory to God.
This was far more than a mere experience, it was His very presence. For that short time I was lifted out of myself. As I recall this, I am reminded of the words of David Brainerd as he explained an unforgettable encounter he had with God in which he had said: "I had no thought (as I remember) at first, about my own salvation, and scarce reflected there was such a creature as I. Thus God, I trust, brought me to a hearty disposition to exalt Him and set Him on the throne, and principally and ultimately to aim at His honor and glory, as King of the universe." (The Life and Diary of David Brainerd – Jonathan Edwards)
In a sense I was lifted out of myself, and into His arms. I was made to know that He is above all and that He is God! I cannot help but to think of the prodigal son who while he was "yet far off", the father came with great compassion, fell upon him, and kissed him, just as God fell upon me with power and made me to behold the riches of His grace and His unspeakable love. The joy was unspeakable, and the closest I can ever come to express it is to describe the joy and wonder I experienced as a young child as I played in my grandmothers gardens, which I have often referred to as my own little Eden. Yet this comparison is impotent and feeble in expressing what happened that night, and I fear it is even an afront to God's incomparable grace which was poured out on me that night. For even as a babe in my grandmother's garden my heart had known sin, but as I was made to behold His glory I saw perfect light. I believe I was given a foretaste of and the very seal of the promise "recieving the end of my faith -- the salvation of my soul." -1 Peter1:9
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