Before I begin, I was reminded that a long time ago I posted some quotes and verses that the Lord used during that summer the Lord used to say what my heart felt but I couldn’t put into words. You can read them here.
And now, here is Part V of my story.
God wasn’t finished with me. He won’t ever be. So I began pursuing glorifying God and making Him my treasure as hard as I could. I ate up Christian books, devoured Piper sermons, was a devoted member of John MacArthur’s church, excelled in my Bible classes, prayed and prayed and prayed and worked so hard to love God. I tried hard to be wise, and humble, and to love others, and to know and love God’s Word, to glorify God with even the tiniest details of my life. And by the time I became an RD at Master’s, I was literally staying up till 2 or 3 am just thinking of how I could do things better, how I could be more wise, honor Christ more. I remember making a list one day of all the idols in my heart – it was 2 pages long by the time I was done. I prayed and confessed them all to God but still felt terrible. I spent most of my life trying to hide my flaws and imperfections from others, even learning to confess just the right amount of sin so as not to appear too proud but not share enough so that I would be looked down upon or judged.
I felt like God was constantly disappointed in me, like I could be doing better and doing more. I remember telling a friend that being a Christian seemed like a sick joke, like if you aren’t a Christian you don’t even know what you are doing wrong, but once you become a Christian all the sudden you know every little thing you are doing wrong and you care about it because you care what God thinks. His yoke did NOT feel easy, and His burden did NOT feel light. Now I look back and I can’t believe I didn’t even see there was something wrong. I had become a total legalist and sad, sad moralist.
I knew all the demands of the law, and I knew I couldn’t fulfill them. So I spent my time feeling guilty and working hard to atone for myself. The Gospel had no bearing on my life whatsoever. And I had lead Bible studies on the Gospel Centered Life! But I didn’t get it. Until one day when I shared all of this with the team of RDs and my boss said to me, “You know, some of my happiest days are the days I wake up and just remember that I am forgiven.” Tears started to pour down my cheeks.
I was forgiven. I was forgiven. I was forgiven.
I felt the good news of the gospel all over again. And a few days later God drenched my soul in gospel truth through the teaching at our women’s retreat. I learned about God’s love through the gospel. And that His love is what motivates our love. And that it is love, not guilt, that motivates obedience. What it means to be justified, that its as if I never sinned and always obeyed. I learned that I had been reading my Bible looking for rules instead of looking for gospel truth. My life is hidden in CHRIST?! CHRIST became sin on my behalf so I could become the righteousness of God?! God and I have been RECONCILED?!
The truth that I had got God back meant so much more to me. The truth that God had sacrificed so much to make things right between us when I was the one who messed everything up was so much more amazing to me. The truth that I would NEVER be separated from God’s love, that I would never wake up without Him in in my life, that I would never miss Him, I would never have to live without Him — man that washed over me in a totally new way. The truth that God loved me, and accepted me — it freed me from the opinions of other people in a way I never dreamed. The truth that God could have sacrificed me for my own sins but didn’t and instead sacrificed His one, beloved Son who was perfect and in whom He was well pleased, it made me worship Him like never before.
So for a third time, I felt like I got saved all over again. And God has done more since then….but from that time on, the Gospel has been the main thing I live for.
It’s my greatest motivation, my only hope, and the best news I’ve STILL ever heard.
And if you are a Christian, then the same is true for you, whether you know or appreciate it or not. You are forgiven. You are accepted. You are loved. You are reconciled. You got God back. You never have to live without Him again. Not because you are so great or worth it, but because His love is so great that He sacrificed His own Son instead of You even though you weren’t worth it.
He is a great, great God and worthy of your love, sacrifice, devotion, and obedience.