So many thoughts have been running through my head waiting for August 12th to arrive. Well, it's here, but I have spent the last hour staring at the blinking cursor. I have decided to lay it all out. ALL of it. The good, bad, and yes the ugly the very ugly. Most of you know I grew up in a Christian home doing Christian things like always being in church whenever humanly possible, doing the churchy bible verse drills, singing all the churchy songs, going to a churchy school from when I was five until I hit a bump in the road at sixteen which catapulted me into this spiral of wrong decisions. Not that any of those things are wrong. A Christian family is a blessing, knowing scripture and being in God's word should be like breathing(literally we will die without it), being able to be in a Christian school surrounded by believers, praising the father in song all of it wonderful. I was so focused on this religious part of having to be perfect, a morally good person giving of yourself always, living by this check list of things that I could say "Oh look I've done this" or "Oh I would NEVER do that." I prayed the prayer when I was six and baptized shortly after. On the outside I was undoubtedly a Christian, but on the inside starving for the truth that I was so close to, but lacked so much. Looking in the mirror staring back at me was this churchy Christian like person with a head full of religious lies. I believed them all.
For so incredibly long I believed them all. When I was sixteen I had my first real boyfriend. I had my first taste of this false impression of love. Afraid of losing what I thought I needed to be whole, I went against everything that I had learned growing up. I gave of myself to a person that didn't deserve me. This relationship, if you want to call it that, became physically and sexually abusive; forever marking me and ultimately changing me into the person that I am today. I was asked to leave the Christian school I was at, but did end up going back the following year and graduating the year after that. I forced myself to pretend like nothing happened. I tried to make up for my mistake by acting like this holy person that never sinned ever. For some reason I thought this next relationship would be different. I was so wrong. I believed this lie of love = sex and sex = love. I had finally reached a point of not caring in the least what I did outside of the church building. Of course I didn't tell anyone this. Every Sunday and Wednesday I put on this mask of righteousness and went on my marry way. Well can I say that when the Lord wants to take you from something he will. As excruciatingly painful as it may be IT WILL HAPPEN. Yes, we broke up. I slowly tried to put back the pieces myself. Can you ever really put the pieces back perfectly to something you didn't create?
For the next year my relationship with God was works based. I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday (maybe missed a few here and there), went on two mission trips, gave of myself entirely. Every time the doors were open I was there. Did I mention I was baptized again? For some reason I thought the water was saving me apart from my heavenly father. If I was in control of my salvation I sure was doing a poor job. Like I said I tried to put the pieces back together. For a year and a month I hadn't been in a relationship. I guess you could say I thought I was starting to get things together. I started doing a book/bible study with a friend of mine. As I was helping her search the depths of her heart, all of the pieces I had put back together in mine were falling apart and taking new ones with them. A year and a month all wasted on one night. I had failed my God, my sisters, and myself. I felt so worthless. So disgusted with myself I showered and scrubbed my skin until it was raw. All the progress I had made...all of it w a s t e d. I was done. I was tired of doing this religion thing. I finally realized that I couldn't accomplish any of this on my own. So many promises I had made to God were never kept. I had failed him. I never asked him for help. My idea of salvation was in the end going to heaven and not hell. How sad. I was missing out on so much.
Remember the story of the woman that reached out to touch the garment of Jesus? For twelve years this woman was unclean. Everyone she came in contact with became unclean in result she became an outcast. She had spent everything she had and no one could heal her. For twelve years this woman searched and searched and searched and was never healed. She had absolutely nothing left of herself to give. She thought maybe just maybe if I touch his robe I could be healed. This story is a beautiful portrait of salvation for us all. This woman was healed by her faith in Christ Jesus alone. The thing so remarkable to me is that she had touched so many people before and made them unclean. She touched Jesus and what? HE MADE HER CLEAN!! How absolutely beautiful! "Daughter your faith has made you well...." The same healer that met her that day in the streets met me at my breaking point that night August 12, 2009. No amount of scrubbing could make me clean. Only the hand of the father. I can honestly say I truly gave my life to Jesus that night. Salvation is so much more than not going to hell.
Salvation is not heaven. Salvation is not eternal life. Salvation is not a crown of jewels. Salvation is not for us to feel better about ourselves. Salvation is not this entitlement for God to give us what we think we want.
Salvation is Christ.
This past year has been absolutely amazing. Being at Refuge for 7 months now I have experienced more than I could have dreamed. Yes I was baptized again. :) Because I truly gave my life to Christ after all of that I felt as though I did things out of order. This time I wasn't six and it wasn't anything about saving myself. When Jesus died on the cross it was finished then. Baptism is a symbol. As beautiful as it is that's all it will ever be. A symbol of a new life with Christ.
Tonight at Bible study Erin Shaw said something that really hit home with me. She said we get to decide how we respond to God's refining work. That trials aren't pass or fail. Trials are for the purpose of God's refinement. He brings out all of bad and cleans up the mess. Today is a year exactly that I was made clean. I have been refined, redeemed, restored, and renewed. One verse God has been burning in my heart is...
Joel 2:24-25 The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall over flow with wine and oil. I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.
He truly is restoring those years!
In a previous blog I told you about the calling God has placed in my life. I still don't understand why God is using me to further his kingdom, but I truly am grateful. I don't start nursing school until June and I have been blessed with the opportunity to invest in the lives of the middle school girls at Bell Shoals Baptist. This fall I will start C-Groups, Sunday school, and a group for the girls that feel called to missions/ministry. I have been given the opportunity to do aftercare again so between working at the school and Starbucks I will pay off my debt completely and go to Israel and possibly Ethiopia. Lord willing. :)
I have been called to do girls ministry. I honestly couldn't see myself doing anything else for the rest of my life. The relationships I've made with these girls already are incredible. The Lord has placed this burden on my heart to invest in the lives of girls. This urgency for them to discover where their identity is and for them to be so consumed with the author of love itself Jesus Christ.
I thank God that none of this was wasted. Each day I am being refined. He is still writing my story. For I am a daughter of the King.
Your words are my food and your breath my wine. You are everything to me.