Ever since I was little, I remember going to Sunday School and hearing about God. I learned a few of the stories, but not much of it stuck. Since I switched weekends with both my parents because they divorced and both remarried, I went to two different churches. All the other kids in my Sunday School classes seemed to know each other, and I always felt like an outsider. After experiencing this for a while, I decided to stop trying to fit in with them.
By high school, God was pretty much non-existent in my life. I filled up my Sundays with the excuse of work, but really with the intention to miss church. At that time, my stepdad was also fighting cancer. I watched him go through one treatment after another, each one giving me false hope that he would one day be better. The strong man I once knew had to have a makeshift bedroom in our living room because he was so weak. Then one day, I got a devastating call from my mom to let me know that my stepdad was going on hospice. The days of study treatments and trials were done. My stepdad was going to die. Walking in the door that day with a tear-streaked face, I was met with friends and family coming to see him. The shock of it all started to wear off and reality started setting in. Nurses came in and out and a week later we lost him. Nothing prepared me for the darkening pain of grief I felt. It stripped me of my joy and left me in a deep pit. I questioned this God I wasn’t sure that was real anymore. Why would he allow this to happen? Where was he in this? I didn’t understand.
About six months later, I was on a walk with a co-worker when she asked me a question that would shake up my world.
Megan, if you were to die today, do you think you’d go to heaven or hell?”
Caught off guard, I told her I wasn’t sure, but I hoped it was heaven. She then asked me, “Why?” Again I was left scrambling for an answer. “Because I’m a pretty good person. I haven’t done anything terrible.” She then asked me about the Ten Commandments and going through each one, I realized that I had broken every one of them. Jesus goes even further, saying that hating is murder in one’s heart. And my heart was guilty of that. She shared with me about how God’s standard is a lot different than mine. God sets the bar at perfect, clean, and holy. Because of my sin and the times I’d lied, the times I’d stolen something as small as a pencil, the times I’d been angry with someone, I was separated from a holy God. She shared with me a verse that says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). My sin deserved death.
But God didn’t leave us there. He gave us Jesus. He was pierced and hung on a cross for us, to pay for our sins. It was as simple as believing in my heart that He came and died for me, trusting in Him with my life, and I would be set free. After a few months of learning to understand what that meant, one night I decided to trust God.
That night, I came home with a comfort that I had never felt before. I wasn’t alone because God was with me. God started changing my heart, giving me a desire to go to church. I no longer dreaded it. Instead, it was a joy to go.
It wasn’t all an easier road ahead after that, but there was a confidence knowing that God was going to be by my side through it all. I may not understand all the pains in this world, but I know that through each one God is bringing me closer to Himself. I stand here changed because of Him.
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