For You and You alone
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing
For the world You love
Your will be done, let Your will be done in me
In Your presence, in Your power
For this moment, for this hour
Like the rising sun that shines
From the darkness comes a light
I hear Your voice and this is my
Awakening ©Chris Tomlin
Yesterday was my fifty-eighth birthday. Fifty-eight. Wow. It seems like it was only couple of years ago that my wife Jackie threw a surprise Fiftieth Birthday Party for me. Yet it seems like it was a lifetime ago. Come to think of it, everything that came before my spiritual awakening a few years ago seems like a lifetime ago. Perhaps that’s because I was a different man, living a different life.
I hadn’t been born again eight years ago, when Jackie surprised me with that gathering of my family and close friends. I didn’t know God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit back then. Oh, I knew who they were, but I certainly didn’t know them, didn’t know them at all. I didn’t know how very different my life could be, how different it would be, with God at the center of my universe.
I spent the better part of the yesterday reflecting on many of the days, weeks, and months, that were the components of my first fifty-eight years. I revisited many of the “Kodak Moments” that have been burned indelibly into my mind’s eye. Most of them were good, but of course, many of them were painful to recall.
I found myself reflecting on the two lives that I’ve lived. My first life obviously began with my birth, on September 27, 1952. My second life began on August 9, 2006, which was the day that I committed my life to being a soldier of Christ.
It was during my reflections on my second life that I found myself completely overwhelmed by God’s presence, and by what He has done in me, and with me, since that day in August. Each time that I made an attempt to write this post, I was overcome with emotions, not because of the way my life used to be, but because of the life that I’m living today. I’m not too proud to tell you that I spent most of the day in tears, overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s goodness, and overwhelmed with my life.
My awakening began, not on the day that I was born again in August of 2006, but one year earlier, in August of 2005. God had given me the courage to make some major changes in our lives (See A Seed was Planted on the home page), and Jackie had graciously agreed to go along with my plans.
At the time, I didn’t realize that my courage was a gift from God. I figured that my commitment to change was the result having been miserable in our business for sixteen years, and that my actions were the direct result of years of desperation and a life with no hope for a better tomorrow. I didn’t know where my newly found bravery came from, but I was glad to have it.
During the course of the next few months I became increasingly aware of the fact that God was the source of my courage, and of my strength, and that He had been all along. It had been God, and not Sam Maniscalco, that had gotten me through alcohol, and cocaine, and smoking, and a broken marriage. I had never given Him the credit for what He’d carried me through. What’s worse was that I’d never really thanked Him for it.
My prayers took on a new purpose. No longer was I praying to God simply for Him to supply me with my needs. I found myself offering prayers of gratitude for all that He’d done. And I found myself inviting Him into not only my heart, but into my life. And that’s all it took. I gave Him (this) much space in my heart, and He moved in.
It’s kind of funny, the way that He worked in me. No sooner had I come to the realization that He was my provider that was I filled with both the desire and the courage to share the news with anyone who would listen!
Looking back on it now, I realize that by the time that I was born again several months later, I was already on fire for God. I couldn’t know enough about Him, or get enough of Him, or feel enough of His presence. Still can’t. I pray that I never will, or that I’ll ever want to.
Yesterday I received a call from Susie, a dear friend, an amazing Christian woman, and fellow blogger. Susie was calling to extend birthday greetings and to get “caught up” (it had been a while since we’d spoken).
Well, wouldn’t you just know it? I started bawling right in the middle of our conversation! I tried to explain to Susie that I was crying, not because something was wrong, but because everything was so right! I also informed her of my futile attempts to get beyond my tears and emotions so that I might write this post. Through my tears, I laughingly told Susie that while I had an idea of what I wanted to write about, I didn’t know how to express what I wanted to say. I mean, how do you write something meaningful about being overcome with emotion? I remember saying to Susie, “I don’t know if I’m writing this one for everyone else, or just for me.”
We ended our chat, and as I hung up the phone I thought about the selfishness and self-centeredness of the statement that I’d made to Susie. I actually regretted having said it.
You see, I never write for myself. I write for God. And I write with the hope and prayer that something I share with you will make even a small difference in your life.
I’m gonna close this post with my birthday prayer of gratitude.
Father, I thank You for giving me not only this day, but for blessing me with such an amazing life. I thank You for taking me, a man battered, broken, and without hope, and lifting me up to heights that I never dreamed possible. I thank You for giving me a devoted wife, for surrounding me with an incredible group of family and friends. I thank You for allowing me to serve You, and for giving me the opportunity to share what’s on my heart with others. I thank You for every one of my fifty-eight birthdays, none of which has been better than this one; not because of gifts, or possessions, or anything other than Your overwhelming presence in my life. I thank You for the gifts of Your Spirit, which You supply me with daily. I thank You for my salvation, which was made possible by the gift of Your Son. I thank You for being the amazing, life-giving God that You are. I thank you for loving me. I thank You for allowing me to be.
In Jesus' name I pray. Amen and Amen.