At fourteen, a few days before I turned fifteen, I had a crash-bang encounter with the Real Thou…and He spoke directly to the Real I. Having been chosen at the last moment to replace someone on our Youth For Christ Bible quiz team, I had crammed for a week, trying to memorize scripture that we would cover in quizzes against other teams from our North Atlantic District. We were going to represent our group at a large convention in Ocean City, New Jersey. This was a big deal…and I was scared. By the time we got to Ocean City, I was not feeling well. I got worse as the week went on. Except for the evening services, the quizzes were about the only part of the conference that I could attend during the day. Other than that I was in my hotel room, sick. . My only real memory of that week was sitting with the other 2,000 young people listening to Torrey Johnson bring to conclusion his sermon. No words from that sermon remain in my memory. What I remember is that the crowd faded away and I saw Jesus hanging on the cross…and it was for me. The depth of His love touched my very soul. And it was His love for me, that little girl who had some knowledge of who He was and a very little knowledge of who she was. He intimately knew and loved that young woman who was ready to give up pursuing hope; the one who had lost her sense of the adventure of life.
He knew me and He loved me, the real me, with unfailing and undying love. Never again would I have to flounder on my own, never again would I need to search for an identity. He knew who I was and He would reveal that to me in a loving, unfolding way the rest of my life. That knowledge changed my life. I was forever devoted to Him.
I am continuing to learn how that authenticity works. In much of C. S. Lewis’ work, he emphasizes the importance of the “real me” in relationship with “the real Thou.” I am learning about my Creator/Savior as I read His word, as I talk to Him, as I listen for Him, as I watch his creation, especially his creatures. I am getting to know more and more the “real” Thou. And slowly I am becoming the “real” me.
Yes, I am ME. I am the one God created to live out this life in all of its surprises, conundrums, joys, sorrows. Inside this skin. Within the boundaries of my family of origin, with all of the handicaps and giftedness that may entail. In Kansas! On a farm! With my husband (that gift from a God who never changes). With the children and grandchildren God has given. I must take every day as a gift from Him. And then I must live it as the person God created me to be and continues to form me to be. That life will not look like anyone else’s life. It will be uniquely mine. And in that uniqueness, I will be bringing glory to God that only I can bring. I will be uncovering something about the mystery of God that only I can uncover. I am becoming authentic.
The gift of authenticity. The farm gave us as a family a platform where we could practice being authentic, and where we could offer an authentic experience to others.