Today I'm excited to kick off what was supposed to be the beginning of this series- Seven of my real life friends sharing real life issues.
This is my sister Lindsay, or affectionately known as Linny, and her husband. Growing up we argued like sisters do about clothes or whose turn it was to clean the room. But I always secretly wanted to be just like her. We can often be polar opposites and then sometimes the exact same. We are sometimes mistaken for twins, although I rarely see it. She is a quiet, gentle spirit. She's slow to anger, always caring, and one of the most generous people on the planet. The girl has a servants heart. I consider myself extremely blessed to get to call her sister and one of my best friends.
So, I must admit that when Kate first asked me to write a post for her new series, I was a little intimidated. I dabbled in blogging a few years ago but never had as many readers as Kate, so to know that there are people out there who may read my very real, candid thoughts scares me a little. However, I am praying that at least one woman (or maybe man!) will read this and be encouraged. So, without further ado, let’s do this.
My topic (assigned by Kate): becoming a Christian at a young age and continuing to live the Christian life today
Wow. What an overwhelming topic. I have been a Christian now for 14 years so how can I sum up in short blog post what the Lord has meant to me over these past years and all that He has shown me? The first word that came to my mind when I discovered what I would be writing about was GRACE. I became a Christian when I was 13 years old and it is only through the Lord’s grace and sweet mercy that I know Him. I am completely unworthy of his friendship and love, but He tore himself away from heaven to come and be with me so that I might glorify Him and accomplish His purpose in my life. John 15:16 says “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” He chose me! This means that God has handpicked me to do His purpose, and if you are a believer, then this also means He has handpicked you! Just knowing this has deepened my affection for my sweet Savior and has demanded that I live a life that glorifies Him and points others to Him.
However, let me just say that living the Christian life is no easy thing, people. I have experienced some very dark, low valleys in my life where my faith has been tested and stretched. Since we are being real here, let me just say that there have been times in my walk with the Lord where I have questioned His will, His timing, His goodness, His love for me, and even His existence. This not something that I am bragging about or am proud of, but these were very real thoughts and struggles at one point in my life. However, looking back, I can say that I have seen God’s hand guide me through these hard situations in my life.
Major truths He has taught me through every season of my life:
He is my Jehovah-Jireh: He has provided for my family and me when literally ALL of our earthly possessions burned in a house fire and has revealed to me “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. BLESSED be the name of the Lord.” I literally remember watching the flames move from one bedroom to the next and thinking “Lord, I’m trusting you to do something big here. I’m trusting you to meet our needs and provide clothing, food, and shelter for my family.” And He abundantly did. “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs” (Matt. 6:30-32)
He is my Father: He has lovingly comforted me when I’ve been broken-hearted and has reminded me of His promise “He will rejoice over me with gladness, quiet me with his love, and rejoice over me with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17)
He is my Peace: He has calmed my heart and anxieties when the world around me has come crashing down and has shown me that my desire to control indicates that I have ceased trusting Him. Throughout my life I have seen close friends and family whom I deeply love stray from the Lord and make very destructive decisions. While I wish that I could give them a good hard shake or a loving slap in the face, I know that I cannot control their decisions or lifestyle. This is where I have to trust the Lord and rest in his peace. This is where I have to pray and submit to his mighty, sovereign plan (which is ultimately best anyway).). “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, Oh Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul” (Psalm 94:18-19) “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’" Isaiah 55:8-9
He is my Redeemer: He has forgiven me and restored me when I have strayed from His will for me. My walk with the Lord is not perfect simply because I am not perfect. There have been weeks, even months, in my Christian walk where I have lived by my flesh and have honestly thought that I know what’s best for my life. (isn’t that what we are telling the Lord when we don’t submit to His will? That He doesn’t know what’s best and that we do know what’s best?) In the first year of our marriage, I did not walk very closely with the Lord. I could tell you that the reason for this was because I was really busy and in school full-time or that we were visiting churches in the area and couldn’t find a church-home, but honestly, those reasons are just lousy excuses. I was not walking closely with the Lord because I loved my sin. The first year of marriage is hard enough as you are adjusting to your new husband and budgeting and everything else a new marriage entails, and it certainly did not make it any easier that I was not daily spending time with the Lord. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit convicted me and I repented and returned to the Joy of my Salvation. ( my husband was pretty thankful too. Without the Lord, I have nothing good inside of me.)
There were also countless times in high school and college where I chose my sin over His plan for me. Again, I am not bragging about this, but I want you to know that He is a God who is mighty to save and mighty to redeem! Often times I ask the Lord why He has chosen me to be one of His followers and why He continues to bless me because I often feel the least deserving of his love and blessings. And then I remember that sweet word: GRACE. It always makes me think of the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew and Luke. The shepherd leaves his flock of 99 sheep in order to find the one sheep that is lost. Often times I have been that lost sheep. Thank you Lord for pursuing and redeeming me even though I am so unworthy. “If you O Lord kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness; therefore, you are feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).
Throughout every situation in my life, the joyous and the painful, He is the source of my strength. I’m so thankful for his faithfulness, even when I seem to be faithless. I’m so thankful that He pursues me. The Christian life is not easy and does not always reap earthly rewards which is why we always have to have an eternal perspective. (I’m preaching to the choir here!)