Sunday, July 27, 2008

 The most important thing

I have enjoyed writing about the things in my life which are of utmost importance; my husband, my children, my growth through some of life's toughest stuff.

Today I want to write about the element in my life which surpasses all of those other things.

I want to tell you all about how I came to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I say it surpasses all of those other things because it is the one constant in my life. I have the privilege of raising these amazing three boys, but they will some day move on from here and begin their own lives. We have experienced the loss of two of our babies and now have a more full understanding of how much they aren't ours to keep. Also, what Dave and I have is wonderful, but our marriage is flawed - mainly because it consists of two very imperfect people! :) I may be a bit of an idealist, but I know the reality of life is that Dave and my boys can not fulfill me completely. They will dissapoint and change.

God will not.

I don't consider myself religious. I consider myself to be in a relationship with my Creator - my Heavenly Father, who cares about every detail of my life - big and small. I have been born into a very fallen world. I have a sin nature that is at war with every thing good in me. I am at best, utterly selfish and quite deserving of eternity in hell.

Stay with me here - I'm so not stopping with that.

It is only when I see the truth of my condition that I can truly appreciate what was done on my behalf. We all try to defend ourselves - it is a human instinct. We try to justify our bad behavior and play up our 'good morals'. Folks, I've done that often, but when it really comes down to it I know I could never live up to the standard of righteousness that God desires - in my own strength. I've certainly tried.

Through my childhood and teen years my brain distorted some of the teaching I had received and made it into a very works based view. It is so exhausting, and discourgaing, to simply try to be good and give an outward portrayal of righteousness. This is the beautiful part. God knew that we could not do it on our own. He sent his only son to die for the very sins that he can not look upon. Now when he looks at me, and all of those who trust in Him, he sees righteousness. He has adopted us into his very own family! I don't know about you, but that urges me to live a life that in an offering of love to Him. I could never repay Him for what he did for me, but I want my life to show how thankful I am!

When I was 4 years old my sister Trisha prayed with me and I put my trust in Jesus as my personal Savior. Trisha was attending a Christian school at the time and her teacher had explained the fact that we are all sinners and in need of Jesus to clean us up from those sins. Trisha then came home (this is so sweet!) and explained that she really wanted me, her little sister, to go to heaven with her someday. :) Imagine a 4 and 6 year old kneeling by their bunk beds in their messy room and praying together. I was very young, and my understanding was limited to what my development dictated. Regardless of age and understanding, that moment is etched on my memory deeply.
I remember.

I had the distinct privilege of growing up in a Christian home where my young faith was nurtured and encouraged. Also, along the way, I did pick up some outlooks that really damaged my ability to live fully for the Lord. I will touch on some of that in my next post. As I matured and came to a fuller understanding of who God is, my relationship with him began to grow into something even more beautiful . I remember when I was 15 coming to a point where I increased my surrender to God and His plan for me. I was attending a youth group in a small town Baptist church and we were going through a course from one of our pastor's seminary classes. It was really good stuff for a growing Christian, such as myself. It was pretty intense and very challenging! One week our pastor asked the question, "How willing are you to go wherever God wants you to go and do whatever it is he asked of you? Do you trust him with your entire life?" So often I would just say, "yeah, sure, of course I do." You know - give the 'Sunday school answer'. :) This time God really held a mirror to my heart and made it evident that I was going through the motions as a Christian, but did not trust him with my life. This is something I struggle with to this day, but that night I prayed a very heartfelt prayer of surrender and God has honored that prayer time and again! I prayed that He would increase my faith. I knew that if I told him my life was fully his and that I would do any thing he asked of me that I had better mean it! :) I meant it with my whole heart. I knew he would never take me down a path that he would not fully equip me to embark upon - sometimes limping, sometimes running, but always leaning on him!

God has taken me down some paths I never would've imagined. I told him I would do it and I have been able to - by His grace alone! When I first prayed to deepen my surrender to Him I fully expected that he would lead me to some far off place to be used in full time ministry. Well, that's not exactly what he had in mind. He used some heartbreaking experiences in my life and in Dave's life to open up doors to share his truth. He led me to a ministry where I come face to face with women who are seeking love and acceptance in all the wrong places. He gave me a husband who needs me and children who teach me all about selflessness. :) I feel sheepish about how far I still have to go. Just last year I was talking with our pastor and in a voice of despair told him how immature I still felt as a Christian. I feel like there are some who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior who are further along in knowledge and faith than I. I have goals of more discipline in my life with Bible reading and prayer, loving others in deed, and living for him rather than myself. When I see my failures on these things I feel so down hearted. But this is where one of my favorite verses of all time ministers greatly to me. "  But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider every thing a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of Knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called my heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:7-14 


MoziEsmé said...

Thanks for sharing about the most important thing. It really is the reason and center of everything else. I'm looking forward to the rest of the week.

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

So neat to hear your story!

I can just picture you and trisha kneeling by your beds :)

PS - Have a fun week with them there! And Love the new look!

Kellie said...

Thanks for sharing this post.

I love what you said about not being "religious" but looking at it as a relationship between you and your Creator. That is really what it is all about: relationship!

Thanks for your transparency and writing about something so close to your heart!

Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said...

Ok, do know that you make me cry every time I come to visit you, right? You told this story so beautifully. It truly is the most important thing.

I was 4, also, when my Daddy prayed with me. I think some people discount it when you are so young but it was very, very real to me.

kt mac said...

aww I hate how this post has so few comments when it's simply amazing and life changing and talks about a grace that has the power to heal and set free. a grace so undeserved woohoo!

I love that sentence that he is your (and our) one constant in our life. That really blessed me.

seriously a beautiful read :)

mattpatt said...

THIS is why I keep coming back!!!!

You inspire me!

Anonymous said...

Next to my morning bible reading this is the best thing I will probably read all day. This and your Father's Day post which I linked to so my friends could read it. :) I really hope you and yours are coming to the family reunion in wow 3 weeks from tomorrow!
God bless and keep you all,
Jackie G.