Then came that year. That awful year. I was in my late 30s … and while I held on to faith like a lifesaver, I felt a hard shell forming over my heart. Penetrable at times, but growing tougher and less assessable by the day. Since that time - about fifteen years - I have worked diligently on trying to regain that girl who fell in love with Jesus.

For the first time.

For the First Time, Again

I recently heard a song that exemplified these last many years of mine. Jason Gray and Jason Ingram's For the First Time, Again speaks of a weary heart. Tired of his own voice. Tired of life's noise. The singer asks - no, begs - Jesus to help him feel as he had felt that first time of coming to his Lord. That first time of experiencing the joy … the peace … the gentleness and kindness (reference Galatians 5:22ff).  

When I heard - for I couldn't sing because of the knot that had formed in my throat - the lyrics speaking of spiritual need and of going "deep inside the grace that forgets," I thought I'd completely lose it. But my undoing was the words about bitterness …

"How can believers become so bitter?" I wonder.

"How can believers become so unbelieving?" I ask.

In the 9th chapter of Mark, we read a familiar story. Familiar because we may have read it before, or familiar because we may have lived it before.

A man brought his son to Jesus and said, "If you can … heal my son."

"'If you can?'" Jesus answers, stunned. After all, if the father had not believed Jesus could then what was the point of bringing the child to him? Hope against hope?

The man replied, "I do believe; help now my unbelief!"

I Understand; Do You?

I believe the Word of the Lord. I believe the words his Holy Spirit speaks to me. But there are times when I doubt … even a little … and the seed is planted and then it grows. I become what I don't want to become (like Paul speaks of in Romans 7).

Hearing the song forced me to come to grips with the past. Past hurts. Past questions. Past anger. Like the writer of the song, I was now at a crossroad which demanded going backward in order to go forward.

I am a journaler. I write my feelings on the lined pages of a book - always have and I presume I always will. Having heard the song, I felt drawn to write some words of my own - between God and me - to allow me to become renewed by his Spirit. By his love. And to drop into that deep place where grace forgets.

So now, I no longer cry through the song, but sing it. And if it means I have to return to the first time again and again until I am too weary of returning in such a soiled state, so be it. Eventually, God's grace will make me to be fully new.

It will take the rest of my life; I know. Because life will always be difficult. But Jesus will always be there. Waiting.

Just as he was the first time.

(For more information about Jason Gray, go to: JasonGrayMusic.com)

Eva Marie Everson is the author of Reflections of God's Holy Land, Things Left Unspoken, and A Taste of Fame. She is happy to report that she is 97% pain-free and able to walk three miles nearly every day. Again. 

Original publication date: November 14, 2009