When I Realized I Needed the Gospel
Do we dive into messes, or leave them un-turned? Do we leave the chance behind to reach another hurting heart who can't imagine being honest? Do we opt to be seen as got-it-all-together Christians, or do we show others that this is why we need a Savior?
For this very reason, I write here, and my dedication to that vision is being tested. I began this blog a little over two years ago, when I first became a Christian, with a God-breathed mission in my heart. A determination to be honest even if that means taking the risk of being judged in the hearts of some. But I knew that I would take the risk of being judged by some to perhaps be a tool to even just a few to fan into greater flame a better love for the Lord and a clearer view of the gospel. That makes it all worth it.
I believe the gospel burns brighter and it's power is undeniable when we aren't afraid to be honest about our messes, the brutality of our ugly sin so that we can see in contrast the beauty of the gospel.
It's been around seven months since I wrote here, and it's hasn't been without reason. I've been fighting a battle that took me to the darkest places; places that I never dreamed I would experience firsthand. I want to tell you my story and my hope, my prayer, is that my story will speak into your own life. Maybe you're on your own road down to dark places and this will be the voice that God uses to warn you away from continuing on a road far away from Himself. Maybe this will encourage you to share your own story of which you might be ashamed for anyone to know. Maybe this will help you confront your still un-healed heart and give you the courage to realize what needs to happen to begin that healing.
Whatever it is, my ultimate hope is that it draws your attention to the gospel and gives glory to no one but our Savior.
First of all, sin is easy. It's easy to become numb to and it's deceptive. It's pleasurable and addicting. Like the lies that Satan spoke to Eve in the garden to entice her to eat of the fruit God had forbidden, lies are laced with truth to make it easier to do and to continue doing. Satan is a master deceiver and you are most prone to fall just when you think you never will.
I know this firsthand because soon the things I never thought I would do, I did. Small choices, small compromises, led to life-altering, life shattering ones.
I made an idol of a relationship. I felt sure God was leading down a certain road, opening doors that had previously been closed, so I moved forward.
My plans seemed to be God's plans. The relationship, the friendship, that I saw as such a gift, finally fell into place. The mission we had for ourselves at first was good, admirable, and God-honoring and I was happy for awhile. But I crafted an idol of my hopes and dreams. They were the gauge on which I pinned my joy and security. Anxiety took control of my heart and mind and what I had previously entrusted to God's hands I took from Him.
In the back of my mind I think I had determined that I would never again go through another disappointment, another loss of something, someone, like I had previously experienced before in other relationships. The days and nights where the person most familiar to you isn't there anymore. Memories that used to be precious are now the very ones that cause the most pain. Plans that seemed set in stone now have to be discarded. Life seems to be going in one direction but turns course completely and you're reeling and now you have to re-build. Some may downplay this feeling, but if you know this pain, you know it can be the worst pain you've ever felt.
No matter what, I wouldn't go through it again. I was not surrendered to God's will.
When God did close the door to this relationship I turned my back on God and decided that if God was going to take from me again, maybe God wasn't good. Maybe there wasn't even a God.
Instead of letting go when I should have, I held on and sought to put back together the relationship that was crumbling and when I couldn't, I gave up and gave in and walked down a dark road.
I went from a vital walk with the Lord to the sharp edge of a razor against my wrist and the giving away of my purity. I had a bitter, hurting and angry heart, and I opened wide a door to satan that if it could have been put into words would have said, "take my body, take my heart and own my soul because it doesn't matter anymore." I ruthlessly threw away everything good, sacred, and precious in my life.
The very light and purity of my body and heart, and the beauty that I had celebrated in becoming a Christian two years before were now the things that I wanted to rid myself of the most. In my mind they made me fragile and too prone to being hurt.
So, I was determined to re-shape myself. To do so, I wandered places previously un-travelled by my innocent, trusting heart. Sin was darker than I could have imagined and I was more capable of it than I ever dreamed.
This sounds cliche, but I didn't recognize the woman I was anymore. I became hardened, bitter, angry, and sensual. I denied the new creation that God made me just two years before and I denied the Creator Himself. I went down and spun out of control. If I can be hurt, I'll hurt first. If I can be used, I'll use first. I'll wound, control, and I won't love or trust. This is the way of the world, of sin, and I surrendered to it because it was the only way that I could feel better and more in control of my life that felt so out of control.
My life story was not supposed to ever look like this. This place I had come to was so dark and so messed up. I was in deep and drowning even further. I gave up trying to come back up because I felt like the things I had done were too much, too bad.
Soon I reached a point in my sin and my rebellion where I knew that God wanted to rescue me but still I fought against Him. I worked hard to shut out my returning sensitivity to sin. All the things going on in my life that I tried to keep secret were found out and I couldn't live a double life anymore.
I was backed into a corner and I broke. I told the people that loved me the most, my family, what I had done and I allowed myself to speak aloud and put into words the fears and lies that had kept me in prison. I'm beyond hope. I'm beyond redemption. I'm beyond healing. I don't have a good future ahead of me. I've done too much. I'm hurting, I'm bleeding, I'm broken, and I've lost forever the person I was. My dad held me and I wept, I mourned, everything I had lost. It felt good to let God break down every wall I had built up against my family, my friends, and most of all, Himself.
That day, God rescued me, but there wasn't an immediate change or healing. I resisted still in many areas and there were deep rooted practices and ways of living that God still needed to clean out. There hasn't been an immediate healing. I'm still climbing out and "re-calibrating." There are days where I can't see very clearly and my identity becomes defined by my failure or how others see me, but there are far more days where I have once again the joy of seeing how much healing God has done. There are more and more days where I get to rejoice in the fact that I have a Savior who uses stories like mine to reach others for His Name.
Much of my writing on here might make you think that I had it all together. The most humbling thing that I have had to admit to myself was that I thought I did, too. One of the most refreshing and hopeful things that God has used in my healing is to show me that born again Christians need grace, too. As Christians you would think that we would be the ones to understand grace and the gospel the most, but often we're the ones who forget it the most. We apply it to all of those around us and teach that grace covers all, even the really really bad stuff. That nothing you do is too bad, too big for God and for the gospel.
But what about when you do the really really bad stuff? Is this the truth you preach to yourself? Do you really believe it?
We all have those things that we tell ourselves we would never do, that line in our mind that we won't cross and if we do, maybe you were never saved in the first place.
We we would never admit it or put it into words but we believe that God's grace, forgiveness, restoration, and rebuilding reaches to certain things, but there's that line in our minds that grace, the gospel, doesn't reach. We would/do doubt our very salvation if we do what we never thought we would do. We believe we've fallen past even God's grace.
God forgives, heals, rebuilds, except for that. That thing I did, you did. You breached the parameter of God's forgiveness, right?
But what if the ugliness of our sin is what God is going to use to help us dive so much deeper into the depths of what the gospel is really all about? Often the dark turn your story has taken is the very turn that God shines the brightest in. His hands are the hands that put back together your shattered heart and life and it's His power that cannot be denied. In our battle with sin God is at work and He is in control.
My story isn't all neat and tidy and shared with you when I've got it all figured out. I'm telling you my story now, in the process of rebuilding and healing, to show you that there is hope in the midst of your mess, wherever you're at in that mess and whatever it is.
Are we going to choose to believe the truth that the gospel really is this powerful? Are we going to choose to believe the truth that Jesus' blood was enough to cover all of our sin? The gospel didn't stop being for you when you became a Christian. Being a Christian means we rejoice in the gospel even more because it is enough and doesn't stop being enough when we become a Son or Daughter of our King but forget our identity in Christ and live like the old man.
Don't resist His rescue because you've been believing the lie that you're beyond that rescue. Your story can and will be used for greater purposes than you can yet imagine. Nothing you have done extends beyond the redeeming work of God's hand. Nothing is too big, too dark, too much, for the power of the gospel.