Running. So much of my life I’ve spent running. Not always away from, but often to ―only to discover, in Alice-in-Wonderland fashion, a mirrored distortion of life, where direction seems reversed, absurd, and horrifying. Spiraling up, maybe down, I lost my bearings and cried again and again to the God who is neither up nor down, but everywhere.

I’m sure He often drew close enough to me that His breath warmed my shivering soul. Perhaps He even caught me up in His great arms of love, but I could not tell. Thus, as I cried out to God, so called He unto me, until He could at last be heard by me. And then I found Him, “Abba, my Father.”

Every day was my heartache bitter. I was exhausted with groaning. I thought, if only I knew how to find God! I’d run to Him ―tell Him everything: how unfair, how confusing this world is to me. My mouth would be full of arguments: I didn’t choose this! And when He answered me, I would understand, at last.

Would He condemn me because of my weakness and ignorance? No! He would put strength in me, because He knew my dispute was not really with Him, but with the wrong that I could not comprehend.

Yet my experience was this: Behold, I ran forward toward God, but He was not there. (Was it forward?) Then I turned and ran backward, but still could not perceive Him. With panic, I looked to my left (where I knew He worked), but could not see Him. It seemed as though He even hid Himself on my right, so that I could not catch a glimpse of Him.

But, in fact, He always knew exactly which way I was going ―how bewildered I was, how foolish ―and when He was finally able to penetrate my darkened mind, He brought me forth as gold tried in the fire.

―Paraphrased from Job 23:1-10

There are several reasons why I chose for myself the name “EsthersChild.” The Esther of biblical antiquity “had neither father nor mother” ― and in a real sense, neither have I (Esther 2:7, NIV).

Esther’s story is not unclouded. Though she is now accepted as a shining example of courage and faithfulness, her passage to greatness led through a harem of concubines.

Perhaps the one text in Scripture that captures best the cry of my heart through the agony of my quest for God was spoken by Esther: “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:17, NIV).

No matter how “fallen” a child of humanity I was, I had but one goal ―to go before the King. There were times when I felt that I had entered His throne room outside of the context of acceptable Christian standards, but I was always compelled to do so by my great need for Him. And always, he was pleased with me and held out to me the scepter of His healing power. By this I know forevermore that it is indeed “[my] Father’s good pleasure to give [me] the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

A scream pierced my mind, and I bolted up in bed, fully awake. I heard it again: long and high and sobbing. It was my mother’s voice! A whimper formed on my lips, only to rush backward into my throat.

I jumped out of bed, threw open the bedroom door, and ran into the moonlit hall. Though only six years old, I was already familiar with the stench of alcohol that hung in the air. A dull thumping sound seemed to come up from the floor below. I moved to the top of the stairway, and in the dim light I saw my father at the foot of the stairs, straddling my mother at her waist, his hands locked over her throat. The long hairs that were usually combed neatly over the top of his balding head swayed rhythmically in front of his face as he brought my mother’s head down to the floor again and again.

My father was a tall, large man ―not muscular, but fat. Though he was a successful real estate salesman, he mostly wore blue-striped bib overalls, filled to capacity.

My mother wasn’t screaming anymore. Slight of frame, she was no match for him. For a moment I was mesmerized by the scene. Then I saw my father’s hunting knife, unsheathed, only inches away from his hand. I knew instantly that he intended to use it on her.

Into my mind flashed the image of a bearskin rug on the floor of my parents’ bedroom, its terrible mouth frozen open in a silent roar. My father often bragged how he had killed it. He liked killing. Another of his trophies, an antlered deer head, hung on a living-room wall, its doleful eyes lifeless and staring. My body shook violently as I recalled the bloody carcasses that hung on meat hooks at the packing company where my father took his kills.

Again I heard a scream, but this time it was my own, echoing off the walls and down the stairwell. It must have pierced my father’s drunken brain, because he stopped his attack on my mother and looked up at me. To this day, that is the picture that I remember of my father. And I cannot stand the smell of raw meat and alcohol. . . .

This book is not for theologians. It is for believers who have found that their sense of self-worth has all but been destroyed by repeated failure. It is for those whose potential for personal achievement seems forever thwarted. It is for those who weep in the shadows but hide in the sunshine, lest other believers find them in disrepute. . . .

Fortunately, life is not static, and so these pages are also the story of my victory. Not the immediate victory of a well-trained army, but of relentless determination. . . .

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