I grew up surrounded by cultural Christianity that taught me that I was supposed to go to church, be moral and die to this world just like Jesus did. But, there was only death and no resurrected life. The power of the Holy Spirit did not exist. There was no daily walk trusting in the guidance of Christ. It was a belief that I had to empty my life of the top 10 sins through will power. But that kind of life was void of the hope, power and fellowship that can be found in Jesus. It was simply self-righteousness. Then I was influenced by a belief that I could just add Christ onto my life and fit God into my life and plans. My possessions, career, wife and children were all mine and so I managed and maintained my life the way that I wanted to. If anyone had asked me if I loved and trusted Jesus, my answer would have been yes. I thought I did. But the reality was that I trusted him to bless my plans for my life my way. God did not allow me to remain content with either of these views. He showed me that they were both void of fellowship with Him. He turned His face to me making it possible for me to repent and turn to Him. By God's grace I repented and trusted in Christ for my salvation. My prayer is that through joyful submission to God's will that His glory will be seen in my life. I testify that because of what God has given to me, I do see and yield to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
I can't really remember a time when I didn't call myself a "Christian." A wise sister in Christ once said "Truth exists and then there are lies. There is expectation, and then there is reality. There is the picture in our heads, and then there is the real story. And in the midst of those, God stands firm between the lines" (Cheek, 2015). The truth is that I was lost and did not even know it!
As a young girl I said "the prayer" asking for forgiveness of my sins and "asked Jesus to come into my heart." As a young adult I wanted everything to be just right and that is what I strived for. On the outside things looked pretty good. There wasn't anything particularly wrong according to the world's perspective. I really thought that I was living the "Christian life." The reality is that it was all about me being in control- my plans, my life, my way, self protection, self sufficiency and self focus. I was so lost and did not even realize it. But GOD, in His perfect timing, (in 2009) placed me right in the middle of a sermon message from the book of Ruth titled "Redeeming Love." Although my Pastor was the one audibly speaking, God was the One speaking straight into my heart during the message. In His grace God opened my ears that night and deep within I heard Him say "I Love You." Clear as day! Transparently I will share with you that all out war was waged on my soul that night and the battle that ensued over the next 2 years was fierce, unlike anything I had experienced in my life up until that point. Though it was SO incredibly hard, it was bitter sweet because by the mercy and grace of God I became overwhelmingly aware of my sinful nature, my separation from our Holy God, my need for a Savior, and the fact that I had a very real enemy who wanted to destroy my life and keep me eternally separated from the God who loved me beyond measure. I became absolutely DESPERATE for the redeeming love I had heard Jesus speak into my heart in 2009. I was as deeply in bondage to sin and hopelessness as anyone could be. BUT, GOD! But God being so merciful toward me, split heaven wide open, came to me right in the middle of all my mess, and more clearly than any audible voice I have ever heard in my life, He said "I told you, I love you. I have you and I will not ever let you go! YOU ARE MINE! And now you are going to live your life for Me." From that moment every single thing in my life started to change. God's kindness enabled me to acknowledge my sinfulness and led me to true repentance. His grace enabled me to turn from my sin, and before I even knew what was really happening, I started running to Him! It became intimately real and the most precious thing in the world to me knowing that Jesus gave Himself for me by living the perfect life I can not live, dying the death I deserve to die and defeating the enemy that I can not defeat so that I could have peace and reconciliation with God-my heavenly Father. Jesus is faithful to lead me and to hold me in surrender to His Lordship everyday. He continues to grow me in faith and in the knowledge of how much He loves me. He reveals a deeper understanding of His Word to me and always affirms His presence with me. Looking back I can so clearly see evidence of God working in my life all along, patiently pursuing me until I finally came to the end of myself and to the beginning of a beautiful life in Him. So, that is the story He has written for me thus far....a hopeless sinful mess, chosen, loved, redeemed and empowered by Jesus Christ to live every day for the glory of God. And now, He is my life!
"There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Him the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death....The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children....in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us....NOTHING will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."