I'm getting baptized on the 15th. I realize for many of you, you're wondering why? So, I want to share some of my, or more accurately, God's story with you. Only something really big could resurrect this ghost-yard of a blog :)
As most of you know I grew up in an awesome home with Godly parents who taught us all about what being a Christ-follower meant. And most of you probably thought that I was on board with that. In fact, up until recently, I believed I was on board with that. I have lived my entire life as if I was tight with God. I lived a decently good life, straying here and there, but in general being a "good person". I also believed in God, believed that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again in three days. Sounds golden right?
Wrong. My life was centered around that single character, "I". Even the good deeds I did were usually so that people would think positively of me. Over the last year and a half the evil inside of me that I had tried to suppress on my own for so long reared its ugly head. The selfish and destructive desires I had manifested into action, hurting myself and others. It was during this time that I began to see that I was not a "good person". I was, in fact, an evil, destructive, sick person at my core. What a rude awakening, a shock to my system. I had been deceiving myself for so long, thinking that I was so kind, compassionate, friendly, smart, independent when I was actually selfish, prideful, insecure, and a person who craved affirmation and attention from anyone at any cost. Admit it, as you're reading this you know its true! Most saw this in me before I ever did.
I realized that although I have always "believed in Jesus" and have even wanted my friends to come to know Jesus, etc, I had never truly repented, or changed direction, from my selfishness to Christ's lordship in my life. My life had always conveniently been "good" until I was forced to acknowledge the gross, evil, sinful person I am without Christ. I had never been honest about my own condition (fallen, sick, evil) before.
So, I was broken, and truly repented for the first time in May of this year. And the best part was that in my brokenness God's restoring power was shown to me over and over and over again! There was nothing about me that was worthy of forgiveness or a relationship with Christ in those moments. All credit and glory and honor should go to Him. He is so righteous yet merciful; so full of grace! The only thing I did was open my eyes to see my wretchedness and His awesomeness and how He wanted to cover all of my bad things with His good things. In fact, I don't even know that I opened my own eyes to see this...He did this for me too, I think! And after some pride swallowing and soul-searching and prompting from the Holy Spirit, I felt I should go forward and profess my faith in front of my church last month. It is very strange to have the Biblical knowledge and history that I have, yet be in the "new Christian" category, but I am thankful and hoping that God uses this for His Glory.
This was a very difficult decision for me because #1 I had to swallow my pride and #2 I was very conflicted on whether or not I was "overcomplicating" the Gospel. I thought maybe Satan was planting the doubt in my mind about whether or not I truly was saved. I want to write here what I found during this time, in case any of you reading this are also confused about your relationship with the Lord.
#1) Everytime that I would spend time in the Scripture and ask God to show me what to do, I felt prompted to humble myself and ask Lord to take Leadership once and for all in my life.
#2) This is the first time that my "testimony" is less about me and all about the grace and saving power of Jesus Christ.
#3) After my repentance and profession of faith, Scripture truly is ALIVE - powerful, changing, convicting. Not just a nice self-help book. Hebrews 4:12
#4) I still struggle with sin! However, the difference is that these struggles are to become less and less instead of more and more. In addition, there is an overall acknowledgement that without Christ I am fallen and dead, unable to conquer sin on my own. It doesn't mean I'll be perfect from here on out, but it does mean that I know where the power against sin comes from (not me) and that I am living for the Glory of God, not the Glory of self.
#5) The "gospel" that is preached oftentimes doesn't cover it. I have found the following definition of the gospel to be congruent with Scripture: "The Gospel is the good news that the just and gracious God of the universe has looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross and to show His power over sin in the resurrection so that all who have faith in Him will be reconciled to God forever." (articulated by David Platt)
This definition rings true for me because it is more than just "believe in Jesus and you'll go to heaven". It talks about God's character - that He is creator, perfection, judge, saviour (Isaiah 40:28, Isaiah 5:6, Romans 2:6-11, Isaiah 43:11). It talks about our need for Him. How sinful and dead and sick we are without him. I think that is the key in our salvation. If we truly see the perfection and consistency of Gods character, then we will see the imperfection and depravity of our own selves and therefore recognize our utter NEED for Him. We can believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins but that doesn't mean we believe we truly NEEDED Him to do that. And once we recognize our need and accept His pure perfect undeserved gift, how can we not want to become more like Christ? It makes sense! And although this road is difficult - very difficult, its one full of peace and assurrance. It is hopeful! It is LIFE!
#6) There must be repentence, a turning, from our sin and ourselves. (Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19)
#7) Although the gift of grace is free, works (in ever increasing measure) are the evidence of our salvation and a relationship with Jesus Christ. (James 2:14-26)
There is so much more I've learned in recent months that I want to share but I'm not articulate enough nor do I have enough room on this blog to share. So, if you want to know more about the essential saving Grace of Jesus Christ and how you can have this, here are some resources:
iamsecond.org - this website was a game changer for me. See the short video testimonials of people with a variety of struggles. I'm sure you'll find at least one person who's story helps you.
http://www.disciplemakingintl.org/media/schurch/series_list/?id=88 - A 6-hour long podcast that explains salvation and the gospel in detail directly from scripture. Put it on your iPod and listen in the car. This changed my life.