Alive and Well
Is God alive?
That is a question I’ve spent the last 15 years exploring. Does God really exist? Can we interact with Him?
If He is alive? What are the implications of that for our lives?
In 2003 the Lord came to me through a 17-year-old boy during an evening youth outreach. We were in an old, long-abandoned car dealership. His words would forever change my life—not because of an instant revelation, but because of the challenge it posed. Justin’s words struck me to the core. In that season I was questioning my faith. Though I had completed a masters degree in theology, my experience of life and Christianity had led me to deeper and deeper despair. Nothing seemed to satisfy my heart. I was bitter, afraid and alone. And desperate for answers that would give me hope.
He approached me shyly and said, “The Lord says, ‘I will remove all doubt.’”
Now, this boy had never met me. He might have reasoned that I needed to know Jesus because of my appearance. I certainly was a dyke—one of only a few local lesbians in this small town. But, wouldn’t he have said something more trite? “Jesus wants you to know He loves you.” Or, “the Lord says, repent.” Instead, leaning into his newly discovered prophetic gifting, Justin delivered God’s words to me.
It was a direct answer to something I had been praying for months.
Earlier that summer I attended a Methodist tent revival meeting. Mainly, I was curious. I was attracted to all things of God, yet held onto deep pain and bitterness that kept me from experiencing His love. After attending several evening services, I recall approaching the evangelist angrily. “Can you prove to me there is a God?” I don’t recall his response. I rushed out in pain, unreceptive to prayer or reason. But, now, several months later in the fall of 2003 God reached into my life to touch a nerve. I didn’t really believe He was alive.
“…. All doubt.” I thought, “Is it possible God knows me?”
Now, most of my charismatic friends can hardly imagine that question as a graduate of seminary. But, certainly, the thought of interacting directly with God was beyond my imagination. “If God knows who I am, I certainly do not know who He is.”
This began a years long journey—one that continues today—to see God and experience His life.
After that night I purchased a new Bible and began highlighting every description of God. I was drawn to every place He describes Himself. I pondered these passages and began to form a deep, unexplainable, desire to experience God’s life. His presence.
I wouldn’t have known at the time, but the outcome of that journey has granted me healing and wholeness that few can claim. Though I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (and spent years on medications and in therapy) today all symptoms are in remission. I no longer need lithium, depakote, or any of the other drugs I had taken before. No Seroquel, Lexapro, Ambien, Ativan… the list goes on. I believe I have been healed. More controversial, though, is the change I experienced in my sexuality. Shockingly, certainly to me, God made radical shifts in how I experience myself and other people.
I began to discover a language and interaction with God that led to answers for my life. His disclosures to me about my thoughts and feelings had the power to alter how I experienced my own life. Though I endured years of psychiatric treatment and counseling, nothing compares to the relief and satisfaction that God’s words to me have given. I am healed in His presence.
My pursuit of a living and faithful understanding of God has altered my life in every way. In my appearance, my emotions, even my mind I experience life with great expectation. What He discloses and how He reveals my own life to me transcends everything else of value in my life. I literally owe Jesus my life. I can’t respond in any other way than to want more time with Him and to want others to know and experience His life.
In the furor over AB2943, conversion therapy, counseling choice and change in sexual orientation, I am forced to reflect on my own life experience. My testimony reminds me every day of God’s power, His presence, and His humility in revealing Himself to me. Why did He do that? Why am I in the position I am in today here in California? I think of John, who wrote:
“We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” 1 John 1:1-4 NLT
Surely I can have no other thought than to declare, “He is alive!” So others may share my joy.
I think, “what will God do among the LGBTQIA community when they see Him?” No one knows, but of course, I can only hope that the life and satisfaction I experience will be theirs as well. We cannot predict the outcome of God’s presence in one’s life, but I have great hope that thousands will experience it. I am committed to do my uttermost to make space for a revelation of Jesus that will open doors for gay people to enter Christian community and enjoy God’s presence. After all, there is a sure prophecy guiding us, Jesus’ own words that promise He will continue to reveal Himself:
“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.” John 17:25-26 NLT
Copyright 2018. Elizabeth Woning. All rights reserved.