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.
After I was graduated from high school, I set out for Northwestern Bible School and College in Minneapolis. There
the Lord did more new things in my heart. I’d been having daily devotions since I was sixteen. Often it was the last
thing I did at night, and I could hardly hold my eyes open. Nevertheless, I congratulated myself for being such a good
Then the Lord began speaking: “Ruth, that’s not the point at all. I want you to come to My Word because you
want to know Me.” The lesson was reinforced for me by the hymn “Break Thou the Bread of Life” in the lines that say,
“Beyond the sacred page I seek thee, Lord; my spirit pants for thee, O Living Word.” I still wanted Him to teach me the principles I should know from the Bible, but I began going to Him more often with the prayer, “Lord, most of all I want to know You.” Since that request is in line with God’s will for His children, He answered it just as He promised in
1 John 5:14-15.
There was one fellow in school who, more than anyone else, seemed set upon knowing the Lord, and I greatly admired him. Stan had plenty of work and study responsibilities, and between those and his pursuit of the Lord, he didn’t have time for dating. Being a little beyond my reach made him all the more desirable. I learned that one of Stan’s favorite Scripture passages was from Philippians 3. I began to pray over it—and to cry over it, for I was learning that I had to get my heart needs met in my relationship with Jesus Christ and not anywhere else. The passage soon became a favorite of mine as well. Verses 8 and 10 in the Amplified Bible (condensed a bit) read,I count everything as loss compared to the priceless
privilege—the surpassing worth and supreme advantage—
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.… For His
sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be
mere rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.…
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know
Him—that I may progressively become more deeply
and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and
recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His
Person] more strongly and more clearly.
Nothing else meant anything to Paul compared to the priceless privilege of knowing this vastly wonderful Person he had met. Back then I didn’t have the Amplified version but I did have Philippians 3:10 in the King James: “That I
may know him.” I began to hear God say, “Ruth, this must be your major pursuit.” He used circumstances to drive me
to my knees and to begin praying along this line. And, as a young single woman, I discovered that the Lord could and
did meet my deepest longing if I let Him be my first love.
My younger sister Mary eventually joined me at Northwestern, and we found a poem, the source of which is unknown,
that we often reflected on and used in prayer:Purge me, Lord, of my follies; an empty cup let me be,
Waiting only Thy blessing, hungry only for Thee.
Can even the Lord pour blessing into a cup that is full?
Put treasure into a locked hand, be He ever so bountiful?
Empty me, Lord, and make me hungry only for Thee.
Only Thy bread once tasted can ever satisfy me.
Excerpted from Thirty-One Days of Drawing Near to God by Ruth Myers. Copyright © 2011 by Ruth Myers. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.