What is it that stands between me and God?

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Luke 16:13 (NIV)

Today, I ask myself: “What is it that stands between me and God?” In other words, what am I serving instead of serving Him?

For the first half of my life, my god was addiction – food, alcohol, money, men, and whatever else I could get my hands on. These things made me live in fear of God and had me convinced that He hated me and everything about me because I was such a bad girl. I was devoted to continuing my addictions to the point that I lost friends, shunned family members and harmed myself physically. I went against my own moral code – and the teachings I had learned in Sunday School – in order to stay actively dependent on substances, people, and things that kept me from knowing peace. I believed the lie that addiction tells to all of its victims – that as long as I could get the next drink, drug, cookie, relationship, or dollar, I would be safe, comforted, protected, okay. Sadly, I believed that lie over and over again until I was steeped in enormous debt, inches away from being fired from my job, and discarded by almost everyone I cared about in life.

All that was left for me at this point was to ask for help. In doing so, I took the first step of recovery. I admitted that my way wasn’t working, and started to rely on the direction of others who had overcome addiction. Little did I know that this one tiny step would lead me to finding Jesus in my heart, the only true protector and comforter I have ever known. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. My trust in Jesus became (and still is) the most important aspect of my daily life. And when I’m feeling uncomfortable I know that all I need to ask myself is: “What is it that stands between me and God?” The first time I truly recognized this, it nearly knocked me off my feet.

I was writing a book about a serial killer. I knew books about serial killers got published and made a lot of money, so that’s what I chose to write about. I wanted to be famous, rich, sought-after by many. I told an older friend who had been one of my many guides in my recovery from addiction and his response to me was, “Why are you writing a book about a serial killer? Why don’t you write about something you know?” I walked away from him annoyed and resentful. I thought he should be more supportive of my life-long dream to be a published author. I thought he should pat me on the back and send me on my way with a “good for you” or “ain’t you somethin’?”

As I nursed that resentment for a few days, I realized that what he was saying to me actually was supportive. He wanted me to follow my dream, but to follow it by writing about something I love, something I could speak honestly about. He wanted me to carry the message of recovery through my writing. But just because I realized that doesn’t mean I liked it. I continued to write the book about the serial killer.

In the meantime, I was reading The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young, for the third time. (If you haven’t yet read that one, I highly recommend it.) As I was paging through it one morning, reviewing my highlighting and notes in the margin, it hit me over the head what God had been trying to get me to see ever since the conversation with my friend about the serial killer book. There was no need for me to put anything more bad out into the world. I have done enough damage in my days of active addiction to fill volumes of books. Me writing about something as evil as a serial killer just to make money was the thing that I was now using to come between me and my relationship with God. And that’s when I was knocked off my feet. Thankfully, I was already sitting down, so I wasn’t physically harmed; but my ego did take quite a blow. There’s something about being clean from all those addictions and recognizing that I’m still coming up with things – anything – to block God’s love from my heart. It’s a disturbing and beautiful state of consciousness.

It was that very day that I stopped writing the book about a serial killer and came to the idea of writing my first book, a daily meditation about the path of my recovery. It took just over a year for me to complete that book and then another year and a half to find a publisher that wanted it. With each entry I wrote and with each cover letter sent to the many publishers who rejected it, I grew closer and closer to God. Another wonderful thing happened during that time. My goal for the book was no longer to earn scads and scads of money. My goal was to reach out to others, to help someone – even if just one person – with the words I was putting on paper. And, the way God works is so fantastic that the book achieved that before it was even in print! One day during the editing process, I received an email from my publisher in which she told me how re-reading and editing my work had helped her through a difficult time in her life.

When I put my trust and faith into serving God and following His path for me, I am consistently amazed and overwhelmed by His works and the peace I feel in my heart. He is my Master and for that I am forever grateful, forever in love, and forever at peace.

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