If you have been following along, you know most of my blog posts are centered on offering people the joyful message of hope found in Jesus based on His characteristics of Healer and Friend. I have been so deeply and profoundly impacted by an intimate, healing, and freeing relationship with my creator that the longing of my heart is to share that amazing message with others. Today's post, however, explores another way to experience that freedom in Christ through an equally important, yet often overlooked characteristic of God, and that is through His character as Lord of our lives. We cannot simply pick and choose which parts of God we want to accept; we must be willing to take Him for all that He is. He is Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. He Is. My prayer is that this message would meet you with grace, hope, and encouragement and that you would begin to experience the freedom that only comes through joyful surrender and obedience to His plan.
Obedience has not been natural for me. As I have mentioned in previous posts, as a child I felt like I only understood one characteristic of God: Judge. As a small child these types of messages evoked in me a great deal of fear, and this coupled with a troubled home life and inherent rebellious nature pushed me toward living a life that looked nothing even remotely close to obedient. My dad says that even as a child I was always pushing the boundaries. If a line was drawn, I was going to challenge it. I guarantee you, if there was a sin to be committed; I have committed it. If not externally, than in the place where sin truly comes from, the heart. For years I lived in total rebellion to the Lord. I knew that sin was sin, looked it square in the face, and willfully chose it over Jesus. I essentially gave my heart away, but not to life, to a specific kind of death: spiritual death. In my eyes, I saw that the only way to break free from my chains and experience freedom was to challenge the rules, push the boundaries, and live life in the moment. As a surprise to me, the result of living this type of life wasn't freedom at all, however.
I felt like I was screaming at the top of my lungs from the highest tower in the world, and no one even blinked. With each new defiant act I was ever tightening the very ropes that held me in bondage. I was intoxicated by the lie of self and I kept drinking it in. All the while, however, I felt this strange, almost magnetic pull to the light. I would try in my own, futile attempts to quit the life I was living, and "do the right thing." I promised God over and over that I was done. All of these attempts to break free from sin on my own were just met with great futility, fear, and frustration. I was trying and trying in my own strength (what little I had) to be a better person and I just kept hitting the proverbial brick wall. I lived in deep shame, and believed there was no way God would want me back in the condition I was in. This was a lie. Little did I know at the time that it was God's relentless pursuit of my heart and His abundant mercy that kept me afloat all along. I was completely unaware of how much I was in need of His grace and power to cut the cord to the darkness.
After years of playing this game, I sat on the edge of my bed in the Spring of 2012, tears pouring out of my eyes, and finally told God He could have His way. The difference this time: I meant it. Not only out of desperation, but out of the recesses of my heart. This time the cry of my heart was sincere. I was completely exhausted and finally ready for something more. I was still afraid of the call God had on my life; but I knew I couldn't run any longer. I had no place left to hide. I was completely and utterly broken. The next few years were two of the most painful years of my life; I did not know it was possible for a person to experience such an intensity of pain. These were the years of uprooting. You see, God was kind enough to not only pursue me with an endless and fierce love, but that love was so great that He couldn't leave me in my broken condition. He spent the next two and a half years uprooting strongholds that had developed through years of abuse and subsequent rebellion. Those years, though painful, culminated in being the best thing to ever happen to me.
"24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain." (John 12:24 NKJV)
God saw the victory that awaited me. He had set before me beauty from my pile of ashes, but before I could reach this beauty, He had to break me of the greatest hindrance of all: self. After my hard outer shell fell to the ground and died, then and only then was I able to begin producing grain. You see, our culture has gone away from accepting Jesus as Lord of our lives. It is acceptable to teach people of God's love and acceptance, but not about His absolute right to judge our hearts and require obedience from our lives. From someone who lived in total rebellion for years, I have personally seen that if we ignore the call in our lives to obedience then we are in a sense allowing this spiritual death. "8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit[a] is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:8-10 NKJV)
I tell you with complete honesty that I have never experienced such abundant freedom as I do when I am surrendered completely to the cross and to God's plan for my life. I believe that I need Jesus everyday because of my sin and I also believe the Bible to be the precious, holy, and living word of God. God is seeking and searching this great earth for people who are devoted to Him and are serious about His word and the work to be done for His Kingdom. I want to be one of those people, not because I am qualified but because He qualifies me.
We are the remnant. Though we may be but a few, I heard a pastor recently say that "it's amazing what God can do with a remnant." In many ways, the church has become more cultural than Biblical. I tell you now that I don't want to gain the whole world and lose my soul. I don't want to compromise my beliefs to get ahead in my business. The way I see it, it's His business anyways and I am simply a steward. In the end, all I truly want is to meet my Father face-to-face, have him wipe the tears from my eyes, and hear the most precious words to ever be uttered "Well done, good and faithful servant." The question: Are we willing to be counter-cultural and stand for God no matter the cost? This is where freedom truly abounds. "12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus" (Revelation 14:12 NIV). Jesus, I need your help with this. Help me in my fear. Help me in my self. Thank you for calling me beautiful one.
I leave you with this video by Lecrae ft. King & Country as it is much more powerful than anything I could ever hope to say.
Thanks for stopping by,