Ten thousand.

20 February 2018

Slightly edited version of a note I posted on Facebook.

Dear Lord,

It's been a very, very long time since I last wrote You a letter. Thank You for this day and all the other days You've given me. It's a shame that I didn't bother to thank You for most of those days, so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank You and give You praise for the gift of life You've sustained in me for nearly three decades now.

Thank You, Lord, for protecting and strengthening my parents in the roughly 273 days during which You crafted me in my mother's womb. There are many ways for a pregnancy to go wrong, but Your mantle of protection covered me even before I was born into the world. You knew my parents' desire in their hearts for a child of their own; You listened to their every prayer, and You responded with the kind of love and faithfulness that reaches to the ends of the universe and transcends all human understanding.

Your love prevailed as I took my first breath on that February afternoon. You watched over as I grew up, gifted me with skills and talents through which I achieved great things, not to brag about them but to serve as manifestations of Your glory, and encouraged me in times of trouble. You strengthened me in times of adversity, hindered my enemies from prevailing, and established my paths even as I tended to chart my own.

Your love prevailed even as I veered away from the course You have set. As I grew up, I began to reduce You to a mere system of legalisms, barely made an effort to know You beyond what I've been told and much less to serve You wholeheartedly, and ventured into worldly pursuits that I became mired in for years on end. My heart grew cold, my spirit weary, and my mind weighed down by frustration. At times I tried to hide from You in shame for what I had become.

Yet Your love pursued me. Your love prevailed.

You have taken me on an amazing journey, one in which more of Your character was revealed to me with each passing day, one in which I experienced the overwhelming reality of Your love and faithfulness even as I did not deserve any of it. I am but a tiny speck in the vastness of the universe that You created, yet You chose to save me, take my broken pieces, and make me whole again. It boggles the mind trying to figure out how an immensely powerful and glorious God, who's got everything figured out, would care so much about me and pursue the little mess of a young man that I was. On this journey You taught me the meaning of faith, hope, love, and grace. True to your promise, You've never left me. You've listened to my every prayer, and spoke whenever I needed You to come through. You came into my heart, filled me with Your Spirit, and I will never be the same again.

Lord, You know my heart's desires. You've got everything figured out while I'm still figuring out adulthood, yet for the longest time I chose to struggle with the wheel than let You take it. I know that You have great plans for me and that the course I'm on is the work of Your mighty hand. I may not understand how the pieces fit together, but troubling they may be, I'll find comfort in Your sovereignty and presence in my life. Thank You, Lord, for the hope and peace that I have in You. Fill my heart with Your love, and fill me with Your Spirit - the Spirit that gives life, establishes my paths, and provides the strength to fight sin and resist the schemes of man and evil. Strengthen my body and spirit so that I may serve You and be an instrument of blessing to others. Continue to write my story, and make me a living testimony of Your goodness, faithfulness, and wonder.

As the psalmist declares, Your goodness and mercy surely will follow me for the rest of my life. Have Your way in me, Lord, and grant that I may live every day of my life for Your glory. The road ahead may be long and winding, but I will not be daunted, for I know that I'm never alone. My hope is in You, Lord, and I give you all the glory and honor and the highest praises. In the mighty name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, the Author and Perfecter of my faith, my Strength and Shield, my Shepherd.

Love, JM