Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Prayers of a Young Man -- Part 1

I spent my adolescence looking for God. Like other kids, I had strong, irresistible impulses and emotions that led to lots of exploration and experimentation, much of it foolish and harmful. But the burning desire to know about the true nature of our very existence, and to understand the purpose of life (if there was one) was the strong undertow and recurring theme that drove much of my passion during that time.

I had rejected the Christianity of my parents early on in the process, and proceeded to give serious and sincere audience to just about every other alternative out there. Imagine my surprise when, at the age of seventeen, after a fruitless and wearisome journey, I ended up right back where I started; deciding that Jesus was not only real and alive, but was central to the very essence of Reality and Life itself.

My early years as a Christian were marked by a deep passion for what I had found. What I lacked in wisdom and understanding, I largely managed to make up for with raw enthusiasm and sincerity. I would fast for several days at a time -- no small feat for a skinny kid with hamster-on-a-wheel metabolism. I couldn't get enough of reading my Bible. The words there were alive and deep and meaningful to someone who had hungered so deeply for Truth, and had finally found it.

During that time period, I was moved and influenced by preachers, writers, and artists who emphasized compassion, holiness, death to self, love for lost souls, and love for God's people -- for example, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, and Keith Green. I still remember some of the very passionate and earnest prayers that I prayed to God: That He would seize my life and use me for His glory; that He would break my heart and refine me with His holy fire to make me pure; that He would grant me supernatural understanding of His deepest and most hidden truths; that He would remove all the wicked and sinful tendencies that I was constantly struggling with and couldn't seem to overcome; and that He do all this even if it hurt, and even if my flesh resisted.

That's some pretty strong and heady stuff, any way you look at it. While some of my thoughts and motives during that time were amiss, and though I still had a lot to learn about life in general, the truth is that my heart really was in the right place. But I had no idea how deep or how wide the things I was asking for really were. And though I believe those were prayers that pleased God and that He was willing to answer, in hindsight I'm grateful that He chose to answer them in completely different ways and completely different timetables than I was expecting when I originally prayed them. (To be continued...)

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