“The Lesson” Part I
EXIT. The voluminous box that haunts my every waking moment has leaked itself into my dreams, painting them with a yearning to escape this living torture. EXIT. My bunk is located in the very back corner of the block, right next to “the big red door.” By law, there is supposed to be a fire exit in each prison housing unit, but I fail to see the purpose because the door is always locked (trust me, I’ve tried…).
EXIT. “The Big Red Door” is the biggest door I’ve seen situated in a residential living space. Its massive 5’ x 12’ frame towers over me while I sleep. EXIT. You CAN’T MISS IT. The door sticks out like a sore red thumb against the bleak gray interior of the dorm. The name of the paint that was used to lather its coat after code should be called “blindingly red.” EXIT. Looking at it for too long hurts your eyes (trust me, I’ve tried…)
EXIT. I’ve never seen it opened before. I’ve been staring at it closed all these days and months, which makes everything worse. EXIT. The door itself isn’t the worst part of it, if it wasn’t for the bright EXIT sign right above it I wouldn’t mind a little bit of color in our lives. Together though, they make up the duet from hell!
EXIT. They orchestrate perfectly together playing the ruthless villain of my nightmares. EXIT. That stupid sign blares constantly day and night. When the lights go out for the evening that sign stays true. Its radiance is brighter than even the ceiling lights. I bet the prison runs out of water before they ever let that sign die out.
EXIT. Each night I lay in my bunk and battle its taunting glow, beckoning me to do what I’ve always done in the face of discomfort. Except this time, I’m forced to endure it. It is as if the signing knows. It laughs at me like a little devil, promising me something that will never be.
EXIT. I stare at that sign for hours before falling asleep. It’s impossible for me to escape its incandescent reach. EXIT. Even when sleep arrives the signed torment continues unhindered. EXIT. As I lay asleep, the sign shines brightly over my head. My heckling oppressor is disguised as my guardian angel. I WISH THAT STUPID EXIT SIGN would listen to itself and EXIT from my life!
I have developed an incredibly terrible habit: When the going gets tough, Lindon has enough, and I run. I’m a runner, in more ways than one. My dad get attest that I am the master avoider. If I have a problem with someone, I ignore them as if they were never born. If I don’t like my job, I get a new one. If I don’t like where I live, I find someone else willing to allow me a bed. If I’ve got internal struggles, I hunkered down and become an introvert. I’ve learned to let time heal all my wounds. But when time became my enemy, I’ve had to search elsewhere for relief.
As enticing as that EXIT sign is, it is a fierce reality. I can no longer run away from my issues. So how do you cope with being a broken soul, tortured by others, but mostly by self and stuck in an environment that’s most closely compared to as hell’s unquenchable fire and brimstone?
I hope to be able to share with you the answer in this post. The Lesson is one of the most extravagant lessons of my life, and the most rewarding tender mercy I’ve been blessed with yet in my mortal journey. I’m excited for this post because I will have help from someone that means more to me than life itself: the teacher of The Lesson.
The day is February 1, 2016, and I have the most gigantic life-shattering headache of all time. I was at work, cooking in the kitchen, as usual, when all of a sudden it felt like an elephant was sitting on my brain and would not get off. Pain halted all action. I couldn’t see straight, I couldn’t think properly. Never before had I bore a migraine with that great magnitude. Yes, I felt like I was going to die. I pressed on through work, hoping only for the refuge of sleep…again, me running from my problems.
Once 6 o’clock came around, I weakly made my way into the block, passed the Big Red Door and sprawled myself out on my bunk without either changing out of my food-stained clothes or taking my boots off. I was desperate for relief.
Not even five minutes later, one of the COs pops into the block and yells “Mail Call” at the top of his lungs. “Bunk 15!!” Ugh… It felt like my head was going to explode! I climbed out of bed (more like rolled off the edge) and slowly made my way up to the front, passing the Big Red Door again.
The officer handed me a stack of mail. “Stack” is no understatement. This has become an everyday occurrence, and I was used to the envious glares of my fellow inmates. As always, though, I had internally rejoiced in God’s love, knowing that my support is grand. However, the peaceful feeling was no match at thwarting my head monster. I moseyed over back to my bunk, passing the Big Red Door again, feeling its mocking taunts. I paused, kicked it, and instantly felt stupid. Now that my foot hurt, it just stood there, laughing.
I crawled back into bed, rubbing my foot and my head.
I sorted through my mail. I knew I wasn’t going to read any of it just then, but just in case one of the letters was from someone new, I wanted to know. New letter recipients are always so fun! Dad. Dad. Levi. Grandma. Aunt Allison. Dad. Jennifer. Ensign. Rolling Stones magazine. President Page.
President Page? Who’s that? On the envelope was emblazoned with the unmistakable logo of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. From previous written relations and experiences, I knew that this letter was important. It was the letter I have been waiting for for months. It was like waiting to receive my mission call, except even more important. This needed to be treated with the utmost reverence and respect.
I took this letter and set it right before me as I laid the rest of the stack of mail to the side. I bowed my throbbing head in fervor and humility. Raising a prayer up to my Father in Heaven. Was I ready to open such a letter?
It cannot be ignored. The single greatest challenge resulting from me coming to prison, after being separated from my family, is being separated from attending the true Church of Jesus Christ. It is all I’ve ever known. It is all I’ve ever wanted to know. It is my life. The Church of Jesus Christ makes up who I am. The way I think and approach life’s choices are byproducts of living an LDS life. If the church did not exist, Lindon Claridge would not exist. Get the picture?
To ever think that I won’t sit in a proper sacrament meeting for four years of my life takes the breath out of me and knocks me to the ground. Gratefully though, I have many amazing friends from the YSA Ward that have kept the church alive in my life as much as possible.
My greatest advocate is my wonderful, loving Bishop. Naturally, because of where I am, and more so, why I am here, the church has age old procedures of how to help a struggling Saint. I am in thankful awe to be part of a church that communes with God in knowing His will concerning His children that have taken His son’s name upon themselves.
I knew that “Church Court” was in order in my behalf, but also knew that my bishop loved me and would help me all along the way.
With support from my bishop I came to pray for and welcome this Church Disciplinary Council. He informed me that the Stake Presidency would be holding it in the near future but since I couldn’t personally attend, due to obvious reasons, that he would represent me.
He then counseled me to write a letter voicing my questions, concerns, and testimony. We joke about it now, but little did he know what he was allowing me to do. He counseled me to write, and write I did. With something this important, I was not going to let anything go unsaid. I handed in a small novel.
I may post it on PrisonTemple one day, for in it I learned quite a lot, but most of all, I learned about the true problems of my Temple Prison. This wasn’t about being confined or even being separated for a season from loved ones or church meetings. No, this whole situation is about right and wrong. It’s about my soul. It’s about accessing the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and making it back to the presence of my Heavenly Parents.
The church to me is more than just a way of living, it’s a gateway to the very most important things I could possibly obtain in the eternities. From writing the letter I gained a sense of what exactly is on the line here. Lindon Claridge is on the line. Everything I am is on the line. This is do or die. Actually, it’s more like: exist or cease-to-exist. This is BIG!!
As of now I have failed to see the glorious blessings of the next unfolding events, but I can’t wait to one day look back and thank my God for His perfect intervening hand in my life, because I know these next events means something, but I just don’t know what that is yet.
My bishop came to visit me towards the end of 2015 and explained to me that the Church Disciplinary Council would be held later than intended, because the current Stake President was getting released, and the new one, whoever he is, would get to it once he felt the timing was right. In essence, he was telling me that he has no idea when or with whom would carry out my case to the Lord.
Church procedure is Church procedure, and I just hold onto the faith that this church, and more importantly, our lives are ran by God Himself, and thus His will inevitably will always be done.
It is only a matter of our own worthiness and relationship to the Holy Ghost in which we come to know the Lord’s will. From then on my prayers turn from “Please don’t excommunicate me.” To “Please put in place a servant of Thine that is in tune with the spirit to interpret Thy will, in the manner Thou wilt have it to be received. Thy will be done, and not a mortal’s interpretation of Thy will be done.”
Upon receiving that letter from President Page I pieced together that this must be the new stake President (who I have never met), that they have already held the Church Disciplinary Council regarding my membership in the Church, and that this letter was the Lords will in black and white.
As I said before, this moment was BIG. The most important moment of my life…and I had a pounding headache. I knew I wasn’t ready to read this letter, but I ripped it open anyway. Would I ever be ready to read this letter?
To me, letters of this magnitude are very sacred. I do not share the exact wording, but I humbly reveal the Lords will. I, Lindon Claridge am an excommunicated member of the true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
My complete feelings about the previous sentence should be kept for another day, but suffice it to say I have nothing but love, respect, honor, peace, and hope for the manifestation of the Lord’s will concerning me. However, I would be a boldfaced liar if I said that this was also how I felt right after reading the Stakes President’s letter for the first time.
My head was about to explode and then just hearing that I was excommunicated from the one and only thing I’ve ever known, yeah… I wanted to die. The day was shaping up to be the worst day of my life. I had no idea I could top last Christmas, but I guess I proved myself wrong.
I didn’t even want to think of it. Well, actually, I take that back: My headache was giving me so much pain I couldn’t hold onto any thoughts whatsoever, no matter how hard I tried (a tender mercy?).
I at least gave my Dad the decency of sharing the news with him over the phone before giving sleep my first real try for the night. My conversation with Dad was full of no emotion on my end whatsoever. I could feel his broken heart, on the other side of the line, but I left him with an indifferent sense of opinion, which I knew hurt him more than hearing that his son was excommunicated.
But that was the state I was in, I didn’t care. I really just wanted to escape consciousness, I wanted to cease to exist. I was in no frame of mind to try and seek truth. I wasn’t even depressed. I just wanted to run from it all. I stared at that Big Red Door for another hour, begging, pleading for it to open, hoping it would open up to a world where I wouldn’t have to think anymore. I finally fell asleep and no sooner did I lose consciousness then I found myself walking through that laughing Big Red Door. “Welcome to the land of EXIT. Worry free! Problem free! Thinking free! Only for the small admission price of your soul.”
I woke up.
“The Lesson” Part II Feb. 2, 2016
That’s how I knew what category the colossal headache was because after 10 hours of sleep I could still feel its lingering aftershock present. The pain wasn’t as bad as the night before, but even its small presence was enough to make me skittish and shrink up into a little ball.
I woke up with watery eyes though. I was crying? It surprised me. It couldn’t be the pain of the headache could it? No. I was thinking clearly now. Reality was beginning to sink in. It was time to face my emotions from what had happened. I began to weep, thinking all is lost. I was trying to conceive how I, Lindon Claridge could ever be excommunicated from the Church.
If you would have told me when I was a boy that I’d end up in prison, I would’ve laughed at you. But if you told me I’d be excommunicated in the future, I might’ve punched you in the mouth for even speaking of such absurdities. Never, ever did I think I’d grow up and be put in prison. More so, though, never, ever could I ever conceive a reality in which I’d be excommunicated from the Church. Even now, I have to pause and think, “Wait, actually, yeah, you are excommunicated, huh…?”
I don’t know if the truth will ever sink in. In Part I, I said that if there is no Church, then there is no Lindon Claridge. Being excommunicated feels as though I am not entirely myself.
All of this was hitting me full force in that moment. Once I woke up I was sad. I was mad. I was confused, angry, doubtful, bitter. I was a mess!
Lying in my bunk wallowing away in my new reality was not a healthy site. I kept questioning in my mind, “How?” I was going down deep, dark paths and I reveled in it, as I imagine most people do upon hearing that they are excommunicated. I knew it wasn’t right, but I somehow felt justified. To accept excommunication to me was like accepting being wrong. All you’d find was objection on my part, I was a good person, surely, so…how?!
I do not quite understand how the spirit operates. My whole life I have been taught that the spirit cannot be present in a wicked heart. Admittedly, my heart sure was wicked in that moment, but the spirit pierced through and told me the most random thought, “Look at your star chart your Aunt gave you.” It was one of those times where the spirit speaks to you as audibly as a person right next to you was speaking. It caught me by so much surprise. I literally remember saying out loud, with a half-cocked head, “what the heck?” Super random. Almost too random. I was about to dismiss it for naught. But when the spirit speaks to you so clearly, you tend to subconsciously play back over and over in your head those very words. I couldn’t escape it.
I wiped my tears away, jumped off my bunk, unlocked my locker, and started sorting through all my papers. I forgot where I put that star chart. I knew I placed it in an odd place for the sole purpose of not forgetting where I’d put it. I see how that turned out.
It’s another reason though why I was so skeptical at the spirit’s instruction. One, I hadn’t really been seeking for an answer other than “How could my world fall apart?” Yet, the spirit seemed to be leading me to some mysterious answer nonetheless. But two, I hadn’t thought of, or even looked at that star chart for a couple of months. It’s always in our skepticism where we see the hand of God doing for us what we could never possibly do for ourselves. I knew this direction was divine. So I kept on searching, and about 10 minutes later held my star chart in my hands.
A little background on what a star chart is for those of you who are reading this and going, “Huh?” I’m sure you could Google it better than I could explain because I don’t fully understand it myself. My wonderful aunt is the one who has studied and so graciously given my star chart to me. From the basic knowledge that I have, reading of the stars has been around since forever. Moses and Abraham were master Star readers. So basically a star chart is of the stars and constellations in the exact location and time you were born. It’s a radial platform that begins at the bottom of the circle and continues counterclockwise until reaching the point in which you began. A star chart circle is divided into 12 quadrants. In each of the 12 quadrants the stars are in different locations and read different things. The position and the constellations can be defined by symbols and that’s where I get lost. I really don’t know too much about this stuff. I have no idea what the symbols mean. Hence why my dear aunt reads mine for me.
As with most things in life that come at you and test your knowledge, you tend to be a little skeptical and begin to question the actual validity of such things you know nothing about. This is how you gain testimonies of things. For me, I’ve always been a little skeptical of star chart readings, thinking they are almost borderline folk magic or something of the like. Yet, I’ve always kept an open mind, because I know as well as anyone that God is omniscient and can communicate with his children in grander ways than I could ever possibly conceive, and I also know that He has spoken to me through symbolism of numbers and many other ways. How close minded I’d be to think that He couldn’t communicate via the stars, in this manner. Especially when the Scriptures talk about it. But I will admit that I had not obtained my own firm testimony of the star chart readings, but was always willing to gain a clearer understanding and testimony of my individual star chart.
For my birthday last year my aunt sent me a star chart reading of that day and of me in Polkton, North Carolina. In the radial chart, there are a bunch of symbols and tiny notes next to each symbol that my aunt has written to describe what they mean.
So, now that I had my star chart in my hands again, many months after receiving it, I began to stare at the bottom and read counterclockwise the tiny notes she had written. In the back of my mind I knew the spirit was directing me to read this but what exactly I was looking for, I had no idea.
My birthday is in September, so reading the last months of the 2015 year was interesting. I read things like, “You will become more peaceful and self-confident now (October 2015).”
I then continued on to January 2016, the month that just ended for me. “Intense changes to yourself this week – a great maturing.” Nothing really changed for me in January? This was my skepticism kicking in.
Then a thought hit me, “Wait a second!” I then got out the letter my Stake President sent me informing me of the decision of excommunication. I looked at the date the meeting was held: January 24, 2016. I was in fact officially excommunicated on January 24, not on February 1 when I received the letter, Duh! If there was any intense change to myself it had to be that! My jaw dropped. I wasn’t fully convinced, however, so I kept on reading.
Have you seen those jet.com commercials where the tops of people’s heads explode and all the purple smoke plumes out? That is exactly what happened to me when I read what I saw next. Between February and March my aunt’s notes read, “A big lesson = Feb. 2” That was today!!! The feelings of peace, excitement and love overwhelmed me as the spirit confirmed to me that I had finally stumbled upon what Heavenly Father wanted me to see.
Is it any coincidence that I get a distinct random feeling to look at this phony star chart and then to see today’s date on it with the words indicating that I will learn something this exact day? Of course not! My testimony sure was growing rapidly regarding this star chart stuff.
Looking back I see how powerful God is. In the matter of 20 minutes He had transformed my internal feelings from “woe is me, I’ve been wronged.” To “A Lesson! I can’t wait to learn this lesson today!” We mortals are fickle creatures. I tell you, we are so weak.
I read the rest of my star chart and read a lot of cool things, but nothing that stood out. Probably because I haven’t reached those points yet. My excitement was bubbling over, though! God’s fingerprints were all over this and I knew I was being talked to. Nothing really magical was happening though, and so I decided that instead of just waiting for this big lesson to fall out of the sky onto my lap that I would go about my day as usual. The stack of mail from the night before that I hadn’t read yet caught my eye, so I climbed back onto my bunk and tore open the first letter.
It was from my older brother.
Whenever I get a stack of mail I don’t usually hold any biased importance because I love and appreciate anyone that writes me to the fullest. The only two exceptions are when either my sister or brother write to me. I always open theirs first, because one, I know I’m going to cry, and two, they speak wonders to my soul and I can’t even think to wait another second without reading their words.
In more than one million ways, this letter, my brother wrote me is the most beautiful letter I’ve ever read, and with his permission, I humbly share because herein lies The Lesson that Heavenly Father has so miraculously guided me to.
Sorry I haven’t written for a little while, it has been pretty busy and I was waiting for you to write. But there have been some cool things that happened recently.
First, I want to talk about one of the strongest spiritual experiences I have had in a while. It happened yesterday at church. I was at my ward, alone, because Charlynn was out in Peoria at her ward. It was ward conference and we were in Sunday school. The stake president’s wife was teaching the lesson. As some background, our stake president is Edward Basha, the owner of Bashas grocery stores.
So he and his wife are very well off, but they are good people. Pres. Basha spoke in Sacrament meeting, and this was probably the third time I have heard him speak. He says good things, but he is all over the place and tells stories that are pretty random and don’t relate to each other, and he uses a lot of Mormon tag lines that we’ve heard our whole lives, and I usually walk away wondering what he was talking about. Everyone seems to enjoy him though, he is charismatic, and successful and wealthy, so that helps.
The lesson his wife was teaching wasn’t super great, or deep. She was talking about how life is a race and we need to find joy in the journey instead of despair, yadda yadda. All the stuff she was saying was good, and I appreciated it obviously, but it was pretty superficial I thought. You just need to imagine where we were at. There were hundreds of YSAs in this room, most of them chatting with their neighbors or on their phones or doing whatever YSAs usually do and not really paying attention. OveraII, it was just another Sunday at the meat market, also known as Town Lake YSA ward, and I wasn’t super excited to be there because I was alone and not getting much out of the meetings. Trust me, I was trying, though. I tell you all this because I want to paint the picture of the contrast of what happened next.
Sister Basha showed a video at the end of her lesson. And I really wish you could just watch it, it was amazing. But since you can’t, I am going to describe it as best I can. The first image is of runners down in the starting blocks. The music is some nice piano something or other. It plays throughout the remainder of the video; you don’t hear a single word, not an announcer, not anything. The runners are on the curve, and down in the corner are the world record and Olympic record notations, both in the 43- 44 second ranges; so I know it’s the 400m and I am obviously instantly hooked. The footage looks older.
I looked it up later and the race is the men’s 400m semi-finals in the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona. The race starts, and it looks like any other. The guys are up and moving. But at around 150m the runner in lane 5 pulls up and grabs his right hamstring. His name is Derek Redmond and he is from Great Britain, but he’s black (not that that has to do with anything, it’s just a detail). His personal best time, up to that point, was 44.5 and he ran the fastest qualifying time in the preliminary rounds.
Back to the race, he looked like he was making ground on the runners in the outside lanes, and pulling away from those in the inside. He ended up snapping his hamstring, which is why he stopped running. The camera stays on him as he kneels down in his lane on one knee with his head down. He’s like this for probably 30 seconds. A couple race officials try to talk to him, but they don’t touch him, because then he’d be disqualified. He eventually gets up, and as you can imagine can’t run. But he starts moving, doing a one-legged hop, stutter step type thing. At the 200m mark you can see a man on the outside of the track push his way through security/race officials and run out onto the track to Derek. The man is Derek’s father. He runs up from behind Derek, so Derek can’t see him, but the father grabs Derek’s arm and puts it over his shoulder so he can support him. Derek looks over and sees that it’s his dad, puts his head on his shoulder and starts crying. The dad says a couple words and they keep limping along. At this point, at about the 300m mark, another official runs up to try and get them off the track. The father isn’t going to stand for that and shoves him away, the official doesn’t try again. At about 350m, another official comes up to try and get them off and the father does the same thing. All the while Derek is crying, probably not so much so because he is hurt, because he worked so hard and couldn’t finish the race. They eventually cross the finish line and are escorted off the track. I looked it up, and by the time they crossed the finish line, the 65,000 people crowd was up on their feet giving him a standing ovation.
Now, Lindon, I can’t say enough to describe how this video made me feel. As soon as the father ran out I got teary eyed. Had I not been in a room full hundreds of other YSAs I would have been bawling like a baby. Even writing about it right now is making me emotional. The imagery was too much. l instantly thought of you. This video was a perfect parallel of what Dad, Heavenly Father, and our Savior have done and continue to do for us in the race also known as life. (I’m of the opinion that life is more like an entire track season, sprinkled with multiple races, but that’s a discussion for another time.) Our Father in Heaven and Jesus, in particular, continue to bolster us up when we fall, when we snap a hamstring, when we mess up. They’re there to help us and make sure we finish the race.
I saw this video at about 11am. Dad didn’t tell me about your church disciplinary court being held that night. Mom told me at around 8pm that they had held it. As I am writing this, I have no idea of the outcome or when they will let us know. But when Mom told me about it, I knew that I had seen that video and experienced what I did when I did because l needed to have that spiritual experience for myself and so I could help teach you a lesson. I felt like Sister Basha showed that video just for me.
Did you just catch that?! I knew that I had seen that video and experienced what I did when I did because I needed to have the spiritual experience for myself and so I could help teach you a lesson. Holy cow… The workings of God are amazing! I sometimes can’t even believe what my eyes see! I braced myself for the. I knew I would be taught the lesson that has had so much buildup. The time was finally here.
“In terms of your church court, if you are excommunicated or disfellowed, who freaking cares. This whole experience is just you snapping a hamstring. But you know what, you have a Father in Heaven and Savior who have ran onto that track to bolster you up and help you finish this race. They haven’t and they won’t abandon you. Church membership is just an earthly title. What matters is that you are a son of God and that He is on the track supporting you through this time in your life. The rest is just fluff. At the right time, when you can run again and are ready to reenter those covenants, you will have a chance to do so. So don’t get down on yourself; there’s no reason to do that. That’s all I have to say about that.”
I mirror the last words of it dying prophet of God.
15 But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love. (2 Nephi 1:15)
That is The Lesson. No matter what, God the father and Jesus Christ, His Son, are always there! During the darkest of nights, the most painful of situations, or amongst the scariest of fears, our two greatest advocates are ever present. Their love and support is a continuous stream of light. It is unfailing! To be “hugged” in this manner is life eternal, and I cannot begin to explain the gratitude I have for the events that transpired for me to learn this and internalize the merciful saving truth that abides this knowledge.
It is scary for me to think that had this not happened, where I would be? Would I have a bitter taste in my mouth about the church that so many former members have subjected themselves to? I cannot tell you where, but I do know that the night I received the news of my excommunication and the morning after, I had a one way ticket to barrel down a very dark, dark path.
But because of the power and love of God, I was literally saved. Truth was the victor that day and my eternal perspective was reinforced, coming back stronger than it had before being torn down. I argue that only God’s love can provide such results in our lives. Nothing I did or could have done would instill the sense of comfort, belonging, peace, and love that I had obtained from this glorious experience I had just received. It was night and day. It was like my mind was in the tightening clutches of a demon being dragged down to extinction. But then, all of a sudden, a light burst on my heart and the beast cowered away with no trace of its awful presence to be felt.
I pray that I may be able to hold onto that love because let’s be honest, my path is not an easy one, and it is only going to get harder, but that’s just it, the knowledge of the love of God conquers all. It vanquishes all its enemies. To be encircled about by the arms of the Lord’s love is to never falter.
Even if “though I be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowled around me like wolves for the blood of the Lamb, or if thou shouldest be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee, if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspires against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemies; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of Hell shall gape open the mouth wide, after thee,” the Lord’s love will subdue it all, “that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” That’s all this is; me getting excommunicated is for experience and will be a better benefit to me when I again reenter the waters of baptism, then had I remained a member.
Faith plays a big part in holding onto the knowledge of God’s love, but I promise, once you are in His embrace His love will course through you and nothing will ever, EVER get you down. You will eventually began to say with a smiling conviction, “Come what may, and love it!”
I’ll continue to repeat what I always say, I don’t know why am so loved – I just know that I am. And if I’m loved to this degree, then how much more loved are all of you. It’s a sobering thought, but nonetheless true. God’s love is real and it is powerful. No matter where we are or what we are going through, His arm is over our shoulders and with His ever constant help, His love will carry us through to the finish line, and ever beyond!
I close with one of my favorite passages of Scripture:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 37-39)
You are loved, more than you will ever know.