Monday, April 14, 2014

Immeasurably More: Basement Choices

When I was seventeen God called me out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Literally and figuratively.
17 year old Tamera

17 year old Tamera
During my first semester as a freshman in college I was accepted on the university’s speech team. I love to communicate and it seemed like a perfect fit. The speech team was the epitome of academic coolness and arrogant know-it-allness. We thought we were tigers with the world by the tail. At the time I thought it grand that I, as a freshman, was among them. Often I wrote and presented speeches about subjects I knew little to nothing about or I had to memorize a dramatic monologue and be believable. More often than not I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I pretended.

Some events of your life roll away—forgotten and dismissed only to be remembered if there is a serious jogging of the memory. But one event connected with this season and group became the crossroad of my life. One night in the middle of a typical party night (college age drama, attempting to look cool and discussing the philosophical facets of life) in one of the speech team member’s basements I heard the voice of God.  

At fourteen I made a commitment to be a Christian, but sometime afterward I took several wrong turns and just kept walking. And walking. Destruction was the road name. The wrong turns took me to some precarious places. Light faded behind me. Darkness descended. I groped my way along the road fumbling and faltering. But I was far too full of myself and far too arrogant to acknowledge the dark. Dark? Are you kidding me? I was living the dream: attending college early, a member of a nationally recognized and regarded speech team and dating a young man who just happened to be the son of the dean of my college major (who would later dump me for a beautiful blonde female member of the team named Charlie*). But at the time I really believed the odds were in my favor.

Little did I know many people were praying for me. Praying for light to penetrate the darkness in and around me. Little did I know God’s favor and light would prove to be far more potent than the darkness in which I abided.

In that basement that night I became acutely aware of the darkness. We participated in activities often equated with freedom—freedom from authority and rules. We thrived on doing our own thing regardless of what anyone else thought (really?) People sprawled everywhere. Legs hanging and dangling over the arms of easy chairs and broken couches. Slit-eyed nineteen and twenty-something year olds nursed long warm beers. Eighties hard rock music filtered in from someplace. I remember running wild and loud out in a field beyond the house. In the mayhem I hurt my ankle in a rabbit hole and someone piggy-backed me back to the house. And there we all sat.

For the first time in my life I felt the press of darkness. I felt suffocated. Hemmed in. Closed off. Suddenly clarity birthed in me. I remember actually feeling it and looking around to see if anyone else reacted. I knew this clarity certainly didn’t originate in my head. (Now, let me make something abundantly clear—I wasn’t drunk or high. Those activities I avoided vehemently for reasons that belong in another post. So, I wasn’t hearing voices that could be attributed to substances we will not name.)

I heard the voice of God. He must not have spoken audibly—no one else responded.

Tamera, come out of the darkness. I want you to walk out of this darkness.

The word of God says that sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd.

That night I not only heard, but I recognized the voice of God.

He walked me out of that basement. I don’t remember even leaving. I don’t even remember the time span of the events which would follow. I don’t remember quitting the speech team, but I did.

I do remember my life changing. I remember my life being altered. Very little was the same after that night—even today thirty-one years later

God called me out of the darkness into his marvelous light.

Calling me out of darkness would have been enough. But God never stops with just enough. It is his nature to be generous. To be lavish. To be extravagant.

I Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…”

That night not only did God call me OUT of something, but INTO something. That night he called me into the light. That night God forged my identity. In the darkness I learned who I was. In the light I learned who God was and who he called me to be. He called me out and set me apart for his purposes.

He called me so I might proclaim his goodness. He called me so I might testify to his faithfulness. He called me so I might speak of his holiness. And he called me that I might declare the healing of his grace.

To his people.

How is this immeasurably more?

I was a lost child. Lost. Lost. Lost. A child with no identity is prey for the enemy. A woman without a healthy sense of self often becomes road kill. The road I traversed proved horribly dangerous, and I lost pieces of myself all along the way. Sometimes I gave valuable pieces away hoping I would get something, anything, in return. I rarely did. Just more emptiness. Just more black holes. Every decision I made led to death certainly not life. This is not an exaggeration. There are many forms of death before the final one.

That night in Dewayne’s* basement God set before me the choice of life or death. Darkness or Light.

Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a says, “…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…”

That night I chose life. I chose blessings. I chose light.

Since that basement choice I have made mistakes. I have repeatedly sinned. I have chosen poorly. I have made faulty decisions. But God has held me through them all. Carried me through them. Sheltered me through them. Guarded me through them. Protected me through them. Redeemed me through them.

Because that night I chose Him (He actually chose me first.)

My immeasurably more?

I chose life. His life.

And my children live. They live.

This year on my 48th birthday my children gathered to celebrate me—I was humbled. I looked around the table at each face, each precious face, and I was utterly undone.  
My incredible family!
And all I could whisper under my breath was thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thirty-one years ago God called me. He spoke my name. My real name. And he called me out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Please read that again. Because he will call you out of your darkness. He will call you to choose life or death.

Please choose life. Life in him.


My immeasurably more?

That night God knew. He knew who would live if I surrendered to him. He knew Anna, Katherine, Olivia, Abby, David, Elijah and Judah would live (and there will be more).

My children live because my God called me out of darkness into his marvelous light.

I will proclaim his goodness. I see it in the faces of my children. I see in the faces of my grandchildren.

Immeasurably more than I ever thought to ask or imagine.

Judah, Anna and Tamera

Olivia and Nolan
Abby Taylor
Elijah, Katherine and Tamera

Elijah and my wonderful son-in-love: David

Nolan and my Olivia

My Anna

Elijah and my wonderful Katherine

Oh, these three!
Abby and Nathan
My beautiful boys!

Katherine and Elijah

My curious Elijah.

My Judah-boy.





RETA said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!! What a beautiful BlogSpot! What magnificent posts! Thank you for writing. Thank you so much for everything. I loved every word.


Tamera said...

Reta, thank you! I appreciate your words and your visit. I hope you come again. I visited your website--loved the concept and the presentation. I will visit again. May you meet our beautiful Father in unexpected places today. Tamera

Schell said...

His redemption is miraculous and just so beautiful...many times, turning to him looks like triage at a busy emergency room. Messy, bloody and bruised we come to Him and it is beautiful in His sight as His transformation takes place. Oh, how He loves us! Thank you for this post, Tamera.

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