I’ve known Jesus, loved Him and wanted to belong to Him for as long as I can remember. In my earnest desire to be His, I repeated the “sinner’s prayer” something like 357 times. Give or take. I so wanted to belong to Him and I so wanted to be sure I had done it “right.” As to which one, if any, of those desperate prayers of salvation “took,” I do not know. This may bother some, but I cannot point to the day or hour or even year of my salvation.
I may have grown up sure of my love for God, but I wasn’t so sure of His love for me. I mean, I knew the Bible said that God so loved the world, and I was in the world so, by default, I figured God must love me because well, He has to, like out of some kind of obligation or something. Because I knew I messed up no matter how hard I tried to be good–and can I just say I tried really hard–I knew I didn’t deserve His love, so I tried really, really hard to earn it.
I played by the rules my whole life. I did everything a good Christian should, and avoided everything she shouldn’t. And I was miserable. Keeping a list of rules is exhausting. Not to mention impossible. Maintaining perfection, at least in image, is exhausting as well. Not to mention impossible.
I was caught on this treadmill of legalistic Christianity, thinking this walking with Jesus deal was all about the things I did. Or didn’t. And instead of getting closer to Him, I only found myself feeling more and more condemned and more and more beat down and beat up.
I was also terribly, horribly insecure. I felt I failed in gaining His acceptance, so I looked for acceptance elsewhere, anywhere. I don’t want you to think I was perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I wasn’t. I’m not. I made some really foolish choices and some really bad mistakes.
I loved God. I wanted to be His. I wanted to live for Him. But I was trying so hard and failing so miserably.
One day as a young mom I read in our church newsletter that a lady in our church was beginning a video-based Bible study for women. I went. And it was like nothing I had ever experienced. I had no idea such a thing existed. I didn’t know I could know my God like that. I didn’t know I could know Him through His Word like that.
And God birthed in me a passion–a passion that will not die— to know Him in the pages of His Word.
A few months later, we moved to another city and a year or so later, I was sitting at a picnic table with a dear friend in the park next to our library. I expressed to her a desire to study God’s Word with other women, much like I had in our other church before we had moved to this city. “Sounds like God’s calling you to lead a Bible study,” she challenged me.
And so He was.
And so I said yes.
Now my passion to know Him through His Word has grown to a passion for other women to know Him in intimacy through the pages of His Word.
As I have studied the Truths of God’s Word, I have finally realized my God does indeed love me, but not because of any worth in me. There is none. He loves me because He has chosen me before the foundation of the world to save and forgive and redeem and cleanse and set free. It’s His grace, His glorious, amazing grace! I cannot earn His favor; He has bestowed it.
As I look back on my life, I see now God’s sovereignty and His grace drawing me to Himself from the very beginning of my memory and all through the course of my journey. I am amazed at His faithfulness and mercy and grace. He’s been faithful. Incredibly, amazingly so. I cannot comprehend such grace.
If I had to sum up my testimony of God’s faithfulness to me in one single exhortation, this is what I would say: There’s more. There’s more than a list of rules. There’s more than merely repeating a prayer. There’s more than hell insurance. There’s more than legalistic righteous behavior. There’s more than accumulating the things of this world.
There is life. There is joy. There is mercy. There is grace. There is power. There is fullness.There is more. More than you can ever imagine. And the more is found in Jesus Christ. He is the more I longed for, the more you’re longing for. Knowing Him. Saying Yes to Him. Laying down everything–yes, everything–before Him. Making Him not just part of your life, but your LIFE.
He is worth it all.
To God be the glory!