I have cried out so many times to God, asking Why. Why all the pain, why all the suffering. The only answer I have gotten is that God is love, and I can trust Him.
I went through a couple of years of heavy binge drinking after my dad died in January of 1988. Almost two years to the day after his death, I drank all the booze I had in the house, which wasn’t much, maybe a couple of beers. Then I walked out into a freezing snowfall, in coastal Maine where I lived at the time. I walked for 17 miles that night in the snowstorm, along an unpaved road that was so isolated, there weren’t any houses or power lines for most of those miles.
As I walked, I yelled at God about all the things that are WRONG in this life. I yelled about wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, wild fires, and tsunamis. I yelled about children with cancer and babies born with mental retardation and horrible physical deformities. I yelled about child abuse and rape, I yelled about cheating and abusing spouses. I yelled about all the traumas I had gone through and all the things in life that are painful and hard and horribly unfair.
I yelled until I had nothing left to yell. Then, feeling empty and dead inside, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I decided that I would walk until I could not walk any further, and then I was going to lie down and die in the snow.
And then… God was there. No, I did not see any visions or hear any voices, but He was there, as real to me as the falling snow, as real as the cold wind and the moonlight shining through the clouds. God was there, everywhere, and His presence was perfect LOVE.
I could sense that God knew me, inside and out. He knew every one of my faults, all of my weaknesses, and each of my many sins. He knew me better than I knew myself. And yet He loved me, He cherished me, with a huge, awesome, perfect, unconditional love. His love for me felt bigger than me, bigger than the sky, bigger than the world, bigger than the entire universe. He loved me absolutely and perfectly, just the way I am!
Then a truck came down that unplowed road, the only vehicle that had come through in all the hours I had been walking. The truck stopped right beside where I was trying to hide from the headlights in the trees. A man I barely knew called my name and told me to get in the truck. He told me that “a strong feeling” had put me in his mind and told him I was in trouble and that he needed to go out into the snowstorm and look for me. (Later he told me that God had put the idea in his head.) Then he drove me home and dropped me off, that old Canadian lobster fisherman whom I barely knew.
Today, more than 26 years later, I still have many more questions than answers, when it comes to God and religion. But I believe God is, I believe God is good, and I know God loves me.
I also believe I can trust Him, even when life hurts.
My experience with God’s amazing loving presence in the Maine snowstorm was the last time I took a drink of alcohol, the night of January 14 – January 15, 1990. Before that, I was binge drinking alcoholically for two years, and I had even spent 30 days in an alcohol rehab. I was going to AA meetings several times a week. But I could not stop drinking no matter how hard I tried, until I had this spiritual experience.
Yet I did not become a true Christian believer and Christ follower until thirteen years later! In the meantime, I was living life my way, doing what seemed right in my own eyes, and getting into all kinds of messes and heartaches — even sober.
But God never stopped loving me — because God is Love.
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