August 19th one year ago marks the largest turning point in my life. It was on that day that, while on a Journey to the Heart, God pulled on my heart and convicted me to call my earthly father about a sin I had been hiding for years. In my journal that day, I wrote two sentences:
“August 19th, 2008: On this day, I begin a new path towards moral freedom.”
“O God who made these trees, let this moment be the title page of a new beginning.”
Little did I know how much God would fulfill those two statements of my heart. His method was simple: take my life, flip it upside down, and shake me out. Then flip me back over and fill my cup with His presence—His continual presence. Here are the three major areas He has affected the most in my life.
God’s Word is Living
Prior to Journey to the Heart, I never read my Bible. Never. I didn’t want to. I felt nothing when I did, and seriously doubted its inerrancy. I read many books on why the Bible was reliable, but the more I read, the more I doubted it. I liked Aquinas and Plato better, who gave logical reasons for what they stated, as opposed to the Apostle Paul’s way of stating spiritual matters as facts without any backing but Jesus’ work on the cross.
While as Journey to the heart, I discovered why the Bible is trusted by so many: it speaks to man’s heart. Read the Psalms and the words of Jesus, and one sees a depth that touches the weaknesses of man’s humanity like no psychologist ever could.
God’s Way of Life is Freedom
One year ago, I could have written St. Augustine word for word:
“But I was an unhappy young man, wretched as at the beginning of my adolescence when I prayed you for chastity and said: ‘Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.’ I was afraid you might hear my prayer quickly, and that you might too rapidly heal me of the disease of lust which I preferred to satisfy rather than suppress.”
(Confessions, VIII. vii)
Yet right now, comparing now to a year ago, I cannot remember the last time I lusted like I had before Journey. I cannot take any credit for this at all. It is an uphill struggle every day, and it takes but a moment to fall. But most of all God has remained faithful to me, in turning my heart towards Him and away from the lusts of the flesh. He has taught me His way of freedom, to live for Him and not for myself.
My father calls this concept the “spit-in-the-face theory” while the Apostle Paul calls it “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” The concept is the same: what I do is not conditioned upon what others do to me or what I want to do, but only upon what Christ has said is best to do. If someone shows me love, I show them love back because Christ commands it. If someone spits in my face, I show them love back because Christ commands it. My identity, and therefore my actions, aren’t circumstantial to this world, because my Master isn’t in this world, only in me.
God’s Presence is Salvation
As I mentioned earlier, before Journey to the Heart I didn’t read my Bible at all. Now, I feel I cannot get enough of it. Any time I miss a quiet time, God has a practical method for reminding me to seek Him and not earthly pleasures. The more time I spend in the word, especially in memorization and mediation, the more God reveals to me His truths.
Yet, faith is not religious belief in what we cannot understand, but the putting in action what we believe (see Hebrews 11). I cannot count the times in the past year God has tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You are a follower of Christ, Tim. You must live like one.” Only a few weeks after Journey, my computer crashed and I lost a lot of important files. Normally I would have put my fist through the nearest wall in frustration. But this time I felt a strange peace. I knew that God was still in control.
In front of my dying computer, I committed the outcome of whatever happened to God and determined to learn what God was trying to teach me through this occurrence. And He did teach me. I learned an amazing truth: when one looks for God in everything, one can always find Him and understand why His will is what it is.
So many times over the last year these kinds of lesson has been pounded into me by God. Sometimes the lessons are painful, sometimes they bring great joy. But through it all, God has been faithful in His presence in my life, as He teaches me about faith, hope, and love.
Journey to the Heart, for me, was the beginning of a discovery, the discovery of God. This day is special to me because it marked not the beginning of a Journey, but the end of one, my search for full fellowship with God. Many more things have happened that have not been given here, and many more will happen yet. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
August 2008 Guys’ Journey