This evening I’ve giving a testimonial-talk. Ten years ago, I spoke just around the corner on the same theme. But I’m hoping that the content will have changed. And I’m praying that the person speaking would be unrecognisable to her old self.
Ten years ago I was studying at Bible college and in the grip of an eating disorder that would almost kill me. For a while I managed to hide my obsession. I threw myself into church activities, missions and teaching. I gave talks about the gospel and wrote glittering essays. On the outside I looked pretty good – a dynamo, burning out ‘for the Lord’. I even believed it myself. But at the heart of my ‘ministry’ beat a commitment to proving – and saving – myself.
When I though about God, it was as a headmaster – slightly disapproving and far away. Someone with rights over my soul – but not my body. Someone who wanted me to perform and keep His rules. Grace, I figured, was just for other people. My problems were much too complex – and in any case, I didn’t need help. I knew the words of the gospel, but not its power.
I tried every avenue possible to prove my own worth. Academia, relationships, beauty, morality. None of these satisfied – instead, they left me emptier than before. In desperation, I cried out to God: ‘If you want me, you can have what’s left. I’ve exhausted my own resources. If you’re there, if this grace is possible – even for me – please, show me now’.
There was no blinding flash of light. No smoke or glitter. Instead, I turned back to the Bible. I started reading again about the God I thought I knew. The Lord who comes, not to be served, but to serve – and to give his life, so that we don’t have to.
This is the God I follow. Not a slave-driver or a despot. Not a negligent father or a circus-master, cracking His whip. A lord who wants in on all of us – body, mind and soul. Whose arms are always open and who is waiting for our return.
A God of second chances.