I’ve wanted to blog for a long time. I just haven’t sat down and hashed out any thoughts. I’ve started posts but I couldn’t seem to make them flow. Here I am being totally honest. I want to share my life as it happens, as I reflect on it.
I am human, I am flesh and I’ve made mistakes. Often times I feel like a failure because my flesh causes me to mess up over and over.
All my life I’ve categorized myself as a ‘good girl’, a Christian. Along with this label came a lot of pride. I was extolled for my virtuous life and service to God. I was commended by my pastor for my church attendance. I was a faithful attendee to Sunday School and youth group. I didn’t drink or party on the weekends. I had never kissed a boy. I was a virgin. I became known at work as the good Christian girl who wouldn’t talk bad about anyone. I wore this ‘good girl’ label as a benchmark to how ‘good’ a Christian I was. I wasn’t hiding any deep dark sin. Yet, I wasn’t a super Christian either. I did make good choices as a teen though and I can only say this was a result of being faithful to my personal relationship with God, taking time each day to spend time in His word and pray.
Looking back I don’t think my faith was as real and genuine to me as it is now. Let me explain, I can’t remember the exact time frame of this but it was after starting university. It was when the Gospel became real to me. I began to understand the depth of the Gospel. I realized that I am a sinner, I willfully make choices to disobey God. As a result of even one act of disobedience, I deserve Hell-eternal punishment. The thing that really got me was that God loved me and chose me to be in a relationship with. I thought why would God choose me? I am so undeserving. I began to ponder what grace meant.
This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4:10 (NLT)
My sin separates me from God because He is perfect. In His infinite grace, He allowed Jesus to take my place and die for me on the cross. Jesus satisfied God’s wrath for me. It is through Christ that we can find forgiveness from our sins. When I first began to think about this and understand the gravity of it I cried. God loved me despite my disobedience, selfishness, and pride.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
This realization was only the beginning. Since then I have begun to realize so much more. One example is this past Christmas. Christmas is a conflicting time for me. It bothers me how much emphasis is put on gifts and materialism. I would rather not get anything for Christmas and volunteer at a shelter and donate any money spent on me to others. The last few Christmas mornings for me were not pleasant, there was dysfunction and crying over presents. I had no desire to go through that again. This year my Christmas was dramatically different. I knew I needed to shift my focus so I decided to partake in an advent study my church recommended called Good News of Great Joy by John Piper. This study changed my whole view of Christmas. I learned how Jesus came into the world to begin His ministry, among other truths. I found joy in the season I had dreaded. Christmas took on a whole new meaning for me because my perspective had changed. I attended a few Christmas concerts and I remember feeling so encouraged after. My heart was different and everything had more significance to it due to the focus being on Jesus birth. I started my year off excited about God.
Over the spring and summer, I began to wane in my passion. Part of the reason was due to my lack of dedication to spending daily, meaningful time with God. A quick prayer and read of scripture before bed was ‘good enough’ for the day. I began to lose conviction, to get easily annoyed with people, my selfishness was taking over. It got to a point where I didn’t like the person I had become. I needed to be humbled and broken. This process took time and I’m still being humbled and learning new lessons each day. God used Michael and a Young Adults gathering to start the change in my heart.
I am so thankful for a fiance who calls me out when I’m struggling and in the wrong. Michael has a way of explaining things from a perspective I would have never considered. A few times over the summer I needed to be reminded that I was acting out of selfishness and pride. I was not displaying humility or selflessness. At first, it hurt me to hear the brutal truth, I was defensive and I felt insulted. I thought “Doesn’t he know how much I know about the Bible? I’ve gone to church my whole life, I’ve read blogs and books, listened to podcasts I have so much knowledge.”. All this knowledge though only translated into pride. After I took the time to think about what he said to me I realized he was right. He did have insight into what God’s word says. I knew God was using him to speak truth to me and to challenge me to be a better Christian.
Secondly, God used a Sunday night young adults gathering called Awaken to further stretch me and break my ‘good Christian girl’ exterior. On this particular night, everything was weighing very heavy on me. Michael could sense my distress so he encouraged me to ask the speaker Jason, to pray with me. I knew I wanted to do this but I was very nervous. So with Michael’s gentle encouragement, I did something I’ve never done before. I asked someone I barely knew for prayer. Jason asked some other people to join us along with my close friend Amanda and Michael. Gathered in a circle around me with their hands touching me this group prayed for me. I needed prayer that night, I needed the truth that group of people spoke to me. I broke, I cried. I was sad that I had wandered so far on my own away from where I knew God wanted me. Afterward, I felt so energized like I had been given a fresh start.
One thing I am continually learning is on my own, in the flesh I fail. I don’t treat others as I should. I put my own desires first. I look to my fiance to make me happy and fulfilled. That night at Awaken was a turning point for me. I got back on track with God. I started doing daily devotions and prayer. I started writing down my prayers again and journalling my time with God. Once again I was about to grasp a new truth.
I realized my devotion routine needed to change so I began a Bible study on the Fruit of the Spirit from the website She Reads Truth. (Shout out to my awesome cousin Hope for sharing this with me <3) I thought I knew what the Fruit of the Spirit was. I had memorized and been taught lessons on them. This time was different. I had another great realization that by abiding in Jesus Christ (making him a priority through prayer, study, and obedience to His word) and through the Holy Spirit that lives within me these fruits (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control) would be developed within me. The work of the Spirit would change my heart. It was so freeing to realize it's not me who has to strive for these things. God works in our hearts to change us. All my life I’ve tried, I’ve strived, I’ve vainly put on this mask of goodness. I wasn’t relying on God to change me, I was relying on my will. Again and again, I’ve failed because I did not rely on God’s strength or power within me.
“My faith rests not in what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me.” Charles Spurgeon
I would like to end off with the lyrics to You Alone Can Rescue by Matt Redman
Who, oh Lord, could save themselves,
Their own soul could heal?
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still
You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
You came down to find us, led us out of death
To You alone belongs the highest praise
You, oh Lord, have made a way
The great divide You heal
For when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still
Yes, your love goes further still