EDITOR’S NOTE:  The following is an excerpt from 31 Days of Drawing Near to God by Ruth Myers (Waterbrook Multnomah).

My Story

First Love

When I was ten, God (and my mother) used a famous verse about His love to give me my first conscious experience of it.

Four years earlier I had gone forward in an evangelistic meeting. The pastor had talked with me about the gospel and I prayed. Soon I was baptized and became a church member. But later on, all I could remember was my baptism. I knew about the cross of Christ and about His resurrection, but I remembered no personal contact with God. And I didn’t know where I would go if I died. This worried me. So whenever our pastor began preaching on hell, I’d slip out of the service, pretending I needed to go to the rest room.

One night my mother, sensing that something was troubling me, asked me about it. I didn’t really want to tell her about the struggle in my heart, for she thought I was a real Christian. But I admitted my fear concerning my eternal destiny.

In reply Mother did something so simple. She quoted a verse I’d known for as long as I could remember. But as she spoke, the truth dawned in my heart and I believed: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That night I believed in Christ as my Savior, and my fear and guilt rolled away. That night, for the first time I remember, I felt God’s love. All this happened in an instant as Mother quoted John 3:16 (KJV). When she finished, I bowed my head and thanked the Lord that He had given me eternal life.

“I’LL DO ANYTHING”

When I entered my teenage years, I didn’t know any Christian young people who, as far as I could tell, were really living the Christian life. I had one friend a few years older who loved the Lord, but she seemed rather old-maidish and I didn’t want to be like her. So I decided I wouldn’t follow the Lord closely.

Behind this decision were wrong ideas about God. I didn’t believe He wanted what was best for me. I was afraid that if I gave Him the controls, He would make me do things I didn’t want to do and I’d miss the best in life. In this time of rebellion I tried everything I dared, though sometimes the Holy Spirit blocked me. And I became more and more miserable.

Finally at age sixteen I agreed to attend a Christian conference. There I saw young people on fire for the Lord, and I received a lot of solid Bible teaching. One night I went outside under the trees and prayed, “Lord, I’ll do anything You want me to—even be a missionary,” which was the very worst thing I could think of.

During the next few years God began to deepen my appreciation for His love through “The Love of God,” a song made famous by George Beverly Shea. This song describes God’s love as “greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell.” If the skies were a scroll and the oceans filled with ink, the song says, and if every stalk on earth were a writing quill, we still could never write in full this love God has for us. The skies could not contain it. The oceans of ink would run dry.

Singing those words I truly felt the love of God. I knew that He understands, that He cares, that He is compassionate. I needed this knowledge then, and I still need it every day. But I had not yet learned to let my roots go down deep into His love so that it was a constant influence in my life. I felt His love primarily when I was singing about it with others, but not when I was alone or when things went wrong.

As the Lord worked within me, my desires for the future gradually made a U-turn. I found I wanted to become a missionary after all, and I began preparing for this. A favorite verse became Psalm 84:11: “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (NKJV). As I followed God, I was discovering He knew better than I did how to satisfy me. Life was getting better, though not necessarily easier.