True Conviction..

Allow me to give you some background on what will later be the point of this story. The summer before my…junior year? Yes, I believe that summer.. Dave started to build the room onto his house that is made entirely of windows. After he’d torn up the porch that occupied the area, he started to clear the ground in order to lay the foundation. The foundation would be made of concrete cinderblocks. Before laying all of the blocks, he had everyone who was at youth group that night take a block and go off on their own to write on the block whatever they wanted. Favorite scriptures, how their walk with God was, etc etc. I can’t tell you exactly what I wrote, but I wrote Matthew 6:34 for sure. I spaced on writing 2 Timothy 1:7, my now & forever favorite scripture passage.. I know I included that I felt extremely distant from God & couldn’t figure out why this overwhelming feeling of being numb wouldn’t go away. I wrote song lyrics. Not sure which ones.

I finished up, and left mine somewhere in the yard. I just wasn’t happy that night. At all. Well, the instructions were to take our blocks to Dave afterwards & he was going to talk to us one-on-one while he physically laid all of these blocks as the foundation. I crept off on my own and sat back and watched and wondered if he’d even realize I hadn’t taken mine to him. Later on, I noticed him walk over to where mine was, look at it, sigh, and pick it up. He took it back and I watched him lay it. I left youth group. I left crying, actually.

For about two years (and this is an entirely different story), I was not on good terms with God in a lot of different ways. I was numb to the point of not caring, but wondering why in the world, if God truly loved me, why didn’t I know he was there? I distinctly remember telling Dave at one point, “How am I supposed to believe in a God who created the universe if I don’t even know where he is? How am I supposed to believe he loves me if he won’t even comfort me when I need him the most?” Anyway.. back to the story. I left crying, feeling all of this for what seemed like the millionth time. The next Sunday at youth group, I went to find where he’d laid mine, because I hadn’t really paid attention.

I started at the left side and looked & looked & looked, but mine wasn’t there. It was the last block. The one in the corner on the right side, against the house. The first one for that side, but the last in my eyes. I distinctly remember feeling pretty low. It just seemed like a low place to be, you know? The corner where no one would ever see it. Dave just happened to walk up behind me right then..

“I didn’t get to talk to you last week. You left.”
“Yeah..” and I just kinda gave him that, “Whatever.” look.
“Do you know why you’re in the corner?” I remember wanting to say something sarcastic. =) This was during my AT-TI-TUDE phase (not that that phase every really ended, but…)
“No.”
“I had to lay yours first in order to line up all the others.. Yours had to be straight for the rest of the blocks to be straight. That’s your life. You’re a leader; you influence people. People will line up with you. They will listen to you. If yours isn’t straight, if you aren’t on track, the other blocks, the other people, will be off track. What you do will affect others.” and he continued on to encourage me to be the leader that God had made me. This made me feel a ton better..

Fast forward three summers..

Well, the other night at the high school youth group, someone asked the question of what a plumb line is. It’s mentioned in the book of Amos. The exact passage is Amos 7:7-8. This is how it reads:

“This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that was built true to a plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?”
“A plumb line,” I replied.
Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel: I will spare them no longer.”

After we found the passage, Dave explained that a plumb line is typically a piece of string laid and pulled taught in a perfectly straight line before laying a foundation of a building. It’s necessary so the foundation or wall is built exact, without error. He turned and looked at me, “Remember how when I laid the foundation with the blocks I put yours in the corner and told you, ‘People will line up with you?’ That’s what the plumb line does. It sets the line for the entire foundation. God was saying, ‘Okay, here it is: you’ve been screwing around long enough. You HAVE to follow this guideline and not your own ways.'”

I sat there and put every effort forth to not cry like a baby. What’s the big deal, you ask? I sat there and thought about how in the past three years I failed to follow the plumb line. I failed to act as the cornerstone, set by the plumb line (God), and have allowed shaky foundations to be built for far too long. My heart broke. Whodda thought that sitting in the HS youth group (not as a student) during a very relaxed lesson that was based on Q&A, I’d be hit by a mac truck with a memory..

I went home that night and did some serious repenting through a whole lot of tears before falling asleep. I realized that I truly am scared of the gifts God has given to me. I’ve used them for such destruction in the name of my own personal gain instead of the glory of God. It really hit me that night. Before that, I’d really started crackin’ down on what I did with my free time & the way I conducted myself among a plethora of other things, but after that, it became a serious reality for me that if MY act isn’t together, there’s no way in the world I can ever effectively disciple and lead others to a life with Christ if I myself am not engrossed in the Scripture. I cannot be effective if the word of God doesn’t affect what I’m doing in my life. If it isn’t altering my decisions, I’m not doing something right. If it doesn’t sway the words that come from my mouth, I’m failing. If some of my free time isn’t occupied by the Creator, then the created isn’t holding up on a very important relationship. If it isn’t changing the way I spend my paycheck, I’m falling. If it doesn’t alter my life completely, I am NOT living the way I was called to live.

And why do I do all of this? Love. That’s been the biggest lesson this summer: Love. I no longer desire to not sin because I want to be a better person. I desire to not sin because I’m learning to be in a true relationship with my heavenly father. I don’t want to hurt him; he’s offered nothing but love to me, so why would I turn against that with sin? It isn’t about what I do or don’t do; it’s about whether I’m loving him and obeying him or not. Life has made so much more sense lately. Granted, this is something that was brought to my eyes a number of years ago through lessons at youth group, but I guess it’s truly started making sense over the past month or so. No, I’m not perfect. I’m not trying to be. I’m trying to love God. That’s where my effort resides. Trent and I discussed this last night and he’s at the same point in his life. It’s nice to know someone understands where I’m coming from and is experiencing the same thing. Thank God for friends. And thank God for accountability partners who will rock your world when you need it. Breanna, you’re the best.

That’s my story & I’m stickin’ to it.

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3 thoughts on “True Conviction..

  1. Ellen says:

    I love you, Hannah Pate. The part where you said, “If some of my free time isn’t occupied by the Creator, then the created isn’t holding up on a very important relationship”…yeah, that hit hard. Thank you for being open and for being willing to share. And for saying what I needed to hear. I know a little of what you’re struggling against, and reading this made me want to cry tears of sheer joy. God’s got ahold of you, Pate, and He’s not done with you yet! I can’t wait to see what He’s going to do with you, because you’re already a beast. Imagine what you’ll do as God’s beast…

  2. Kathy says:

    Hannah, I landed on your blog from clicking on your photo somewhere in twitter…..

    What a beautiful, heart-felt and transparent post! I am guessing you are in your early 20’s. It blessed my heart to read what the Lord is doing in your life and heart. I wish you could talk to our youth about this experience. I hope you share this story with your youth group, and especially the one who has spoken prophetic words over your life! What a blessing!!

    I am mom to a 20 yr old and a 17 yr old. I have been working with our youth group for 6 years so your story is very encouraging about how God continued to pursue you and spoke so clearly. Ironic isn’t it? That you were wondering where He was, and He spoke so clearly to you then and again now.

    He is awesome and I can tell He will use you to bless and build His kingdom!
    Blessings! Kathy

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