I have been thinking about my original experience of becoming a Christian lately. Especially on the days when my heart is squeezing with painful yearning to see the people I love delivered from the destructive paths they seem determined to walk. Those times make me think there is a lone howling wolf caged inside of me. The longing, the yearning, the desperate cry for their lives to be spared comes out in this keening, mournful cry from the very depths of my soul. It seems, whether I give voice to it or not, it still squeezes forth from my spirit upward into the atmosphere around me. There is an actual, physical straining to force the desperate scream for deliverance outward and upward to the only One that can deliver.
I use the word keening because it best describes this high pitched, soul deep, long, piercing, pain-filled, pressure releasing wail that builds in my core as I feel the desperation for these that I love so. Many associate this with giving birth.
The day I became a Christian followed weeks of fearful crying and soul searching. You see, I had 3 dreams in 3 weeks and in each dream, I died. I was in a different setting every time, but each was a common scene from my daily, ungodly, out of control, broken, destructive, bound up, abusive life. After each dream the scenario played out in real life except miraculously my life was spared.
I knew about God. I knew about heaven and hell. I even knew about some things that were obvious sins—after all I knew the 10 commandments and lived in the south. I just did not have the power to resist sin or to live a “good” life. I would try to make the effort sometimes. I wanted to live better, but I could not seem to resist that pull, that inward nature. My grandparents prayed for me. They had possibly started praying the day I was born. I started praying for my grandchildren when I first heard they were going to be born. My grandparents prayed as long as they lived. That is how I want to live. My grandmother died before I became a Christian. Her prayers yet unanswered stayed in place before God, keeping my face, my name, and my need before Him. Finally, in desperate realization of how desperate I was and how much I needed to be saved, I said, “Oh God I do not want to live like this anymore. I want to change, I want to be saved. Please forgive me! Please save me! I am so sorry for all my sins.”
Now anyone that knows me knows I said a whole lot more than that because I . . . talk. But that was the basic statement of everything that was said that night. I went to that church, never having been there before, with the intention of throwing myself on God’s altar, pouring out my soul in confession before Him, and I intended to stay there until He answered. Today I think, “Oh those poor people. They had no idea what or who was walking through their doors that night.” My children had no idea how their lives were about to be changed. Truthfully I had no idea what my life would be like when I passed back through those doors a second time that night, but I went anyway. Later, I learned they had been in a “Holy Ghost filled revival” for 3 days.
My life in graphic illustration would look like a video game. I was on a path, a track that looked like I had all kinds of choices. However, I was limited to that screen and what was on it. There were all kinds of little things/opportunities floating around but I was drawn to the things that reinforced my lifestyle. Like a pac-man gobbling up those little dots before him, I passed all the other things, good things, to consume the things that fed my lifestyle. I could not seem to change. I met with disaster just like the pac-man, but as soon as I recovered, the game started all over again and I was following the path of consumable dots. I was going, miserably going, on the path my sinful lifestyle choices made for me.
BUT, that night—the night I literally threw myself on the mercy of God, on God’s altar—my life changed forever. That physical altar was in a little, unnoticeable, side-street church called the Dentsville Church of God in Columbia, South Carolina. The power of sin was broken; everything was new. I did not know this “newness” was promised to me in scripture as a new believer. At the time I knew no scripture; I only knew what I felt. Literally, even though it was night-time and very dark on that unlit road as my children and I walked home, everything was different. I felt lighter, I felt clean, I felt free, I felt love. I actually felt love, overwhelming love for everybody. I was alive seemingly for the first time. The next morning I looked out the window, the same dirty window as the day before, but the world was bright and shiny. The dogwoods were in bloom and I had never seen anything so beautiful. If there had been space, I could have done a full “Disney” dance with the world that was my new life.
We sing a song that talks about being changed and one line says, “I will never go back.” I sing that part with emphasis, add 6 exclamation points, stomp my foot, and laugh and cry at the same time with my hands stretched high in the air in victory. No one can ever make me go back . . . Jesus paid for me to be free and I choose daily to never return to that life. I am free; I am free indeed!!!!! My new life has not been without struggle or hardship. I have endured some things, I have made mistakes and had to walk them out, I have experienced sickness, injury, divorce, cancer, heart attack and other human stuff.
However, God has been constant and He has been faithful through it all. I have seen deliverances, healings, help in unexpected ways. He has never failed me. I am fully confident that He will not fail me in this. If He heard and answered my grandparents’ prayers to keep, save, change and deliver me, He can and will do it for those I love and pray for. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His ears are open to our prayers.
His hand is extended to us in response to our cries. He understands my “keening cry“ for those that He and I both love and desire to see delivered.
Therefore, I intercede.