I get on these obsessive/compulsive jags where I read a certain author or genre until I have exhausted the supply. Rick Riley, the writer and columnist for Sports Illustrated and Mike Royko, who wrote for the Chicago Tribune, were particular favorites. Then there was the summer I worked my way through every word Lewis Grizzard ever wrote, laughing 'till my sides split. I was actually angry when he smoked and drank himself to death and deprived the world of his incredible, insightful and hilarious talent. I have a penchant for columnists because they always exhibit such a delicious way with words.
At one point I was heavily into true crime. Ann Rule was my primary author of choice, though there were others. This particular jag was deeply distressful to my husband. He was sure I was trying to plan the perfect murder. His.
But the truth is, I have always been fascinated by human nature, the mind, psychology and what causes things to go wrong in the heart and psyche of some people. It is assumed the deviant, murderous, sociopathic or pathalogical minds are frightening abberations of "normal" and I have always viewed them with a terrified fascination. I have often wondered if they aren't really just the extreme consequences of living in a viloently fallen and sinful world, and if each of us, given the wrong circumstances or upbringing woudn't be capable and vulnerable of becoming what is the worst of mankind.
My interest within the interest centered on serial killers. I find them morbidly and repulsively fascinating. I love the three legs of a crime story. First, the psychological make-up and motives of the killer; secondly, the painstaking work of detectives whose passion for justice is almost always equal to their suspect's passion for murder; thirdly, the preparation of the trial lawers whose job it is to see these people brought to justice and prevent added atrocities.
In that place where the nonsense of your dreams gradually give way to the first conscious thoughts of the day I often have my most enlightening moments. I always wish I could stay there longer, but those little vacations last mere moments.
One morning not long ago I had a powerful awarness of the deep depravity and consequences of sin we can never completley divorce ourselves from. I understood on a deeper level than I ever have just how far we have fallen from God's original idea of who we should be and of how truly monsterous the crowning glory of His creation can become.
There are people who beat, rape and kill their own children. Children who murder their partent. A smorgasboard of exual deviants. On a slightly less extreme but just as spiritually lethal level there are people who lie, cheat, steal, have abortions, commit adultry, are addicted to drugs and alcohol, have anger issues or are bitter and unforgiving.
How tragically far we have fallen from the plans of the God who longs to walk with us in the garden in the cool of the day; who made the vastness of creation for our pleasure; whose vast imagination and creativity are beyond comprehension.
I started thinking about all the kooks out there and the hundreds of miles I hitchhiked as a teenager. It was the only way for me to get from one place to another and at one point, from McCloud, Oklahoma, to Monore, Louisanna, where I was picked up by a country preacher driving a brown Mavrick who shared the Gospel with me and changed my life forever.
I will never know how many times God protected me from harm. I could easily have been beaten, raped or murdered. It happens to people all the time and all the more so to runaway teenagers who the depraved prey on.
I began to worship God in that semi-conscious state and thank Him profusely for His care and proteciton when I was oblivious. It occured to me that not only did He spare my life as a teenager, He spares it every day. After all, how many people die in car accidents every day? Or lose their minds to Alzheimer's or their bodies to debilitating diseases?
I stand guilty before God of many grevious sins. I live in a fallen world. I have a sin nature. But mostly, I have consciously and deliberately made wrong choices and shot an arrow into the great heart of a righteous and holy God. Some of them have had physical, emotional or psychological consequences. All of them have had spiritual consequences.
But I serve a God whose love for me is greater than the vastness of space. The plans, promises and blessings He has planned for me outnumber the stars.
He longs to fill my mind with the same creativity He expressed at creation. And the same power that brought into being everything seen and unseen and that "holds all things together by the word of His power," sets me free.
I understood that in a way I never had before and I wept myself into wakefulness.
God's word is true. It cannot fail. "Whom the Son sets free is free indeed." God wants to-longs to- set me free from the sins that so easily beset me. He wants to take the life He has preserved and the gifts He has given me and use them to be a beakon of the light of glory in the darkness that envelopes the world.
I understood Paul's cry, "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain." I want my life to be lived for God's purposes and pleasure, one of which is to be my best friend. I want to anticipate heaven, not as a windowledge I hope to hang onto my by fingernails, but as my true home where I will one day be in the presence of the God who dwells there and where I will live with Him in glory unimaginable. Where everything He has trained me for here will have purpose there.
I understood in a more profound manner that when the light of Christ enters a person they are truly catapulted into another kingdom. A kingdom of life, love, hope, peace and perfect communion with the living God.
We see through a glass darkly, but one day we will see face-to-face.
My heart was overwhelmed with thanksgiving and gratitude to God for who He is, what He has done, what He longs to do and for His mercies, grace and forgiveness which are new every morning and extended to me as surely as Xerxes extended the scepter to Esther.
The same power that caused Jesus to burst forth from the grave and overcome death and Hades is at work in me and for me and through me and is setting me free! My only job is to respond to all He has already done for me. To tap into it and allow Him to completely rule and reign in every thought, action and detail of my life.
The best part is that I don't have to beg and plead and cry and "try." I just need to ask and God, who is able to do "above and beyond all I could ask or think" and He will show up and do what only He is capable of doing. Which is everything!