I now truly know that I control nothing, only God does. Proverbs 16:9 So don’t worry about things I can’t fix. If it needs fixing God will fix it in His own way and in His own time. Matthew 6:25-30
I also know that it’s impossible to love anyone unless I truly forgive them and stop keeping score. And that I can’t forgive others and stop keeping score on them if I don’t forgive myself first and stop keeping my own score. For if I don’t forgive myself or others and I keep score on everybody I’m playing God. Without love I can’t be the person God wants me to be. I can’t be wise, honest, or godly. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
I know that Satan uses all kinds of inventive lies to create a barrier between God and me as well as other people ALL the time at every minute of every day, but if I remember those previous chapters I can avoid many of those traps he sets for me and those around me.
Of course I’m not "good enough" and neither are you. Love, especially God's love is never predicated on whether its deserved or not. So I don't have to worry that God won’t use me or anyone else on the basis of human defined merit. I’m so glad Abraham, David, Peter, et. al., didn’t fall for those lies! I’m not going to either and neither should you!
Another thing I’ve learned is that the family is the basis of the Church. Without a unified loving family my (and your) individual calling will be more difficult. I must minister to my husband, children, parents, siblings, etc., first and then go out into the world and share the gospel. If you've just been saved you already have a ministry. Your family. Love them and help take care of them. Pray for them, encourage them, and when opportunities arise to share the gospel share it (don't cram it down their throats, share it when prompted by the Holy Spirit). Acts 16:30-33 & Colossians 3:18-20
Something else I’ve also learned that you can minister in all sorts of ways. It’s not just preaching and teaching in public minsitry (i.e., Church). It can be cleaning toilets in a bus station and doing it with joy and gusto. God respects, rejoices, and appreciates EVERYTHING we do for Him no matter how “big” or “small.” Colossians 3:17 And we don’t have to be “perfect” doing it either. Just willing to do the best we can with dependency on the Holy Spirit. God will perfect us as we go, but only if we go forth to begin with!! Ephesians 4:11-16, I wasn't and am still not a perfect parent. I became a parent when my children were born and have improved as the years have gone on. I didn't wait for parenting skills to magically appear in me over night before having children. In the same way, I can only develop and grow in any ministry for Him if I step out in faith and trust Him to develop me and guide me as I go along. No one became great for God by just sitting around and waiting for some burning bush. Even Moses was out tending sheep! God calls on the willing, not the “best.” Though we may need to be reminded to be willing like Moses had to be on more than one occasion.
In realizing all these things I no longer feel compelled to judge OTHER people as they serve or don't serve (at least not as often). By realizing I don’t need to be perfect, I know that no one else does either. After all, who am I to judge another man’s servant much less God’s? Romans 14:4
God doesn’t keep score like some judge in the Olympics. Nor should I. God doesn’t keep track of my wrongs or other Believer’s wrongs. Neither should I. God wants me “holy” in that I’m set apart just for Him and His purposes, perfection will come as I go and when I finally die to this world and enter the next one. Ditto for everyone else who believes in His Son Jesus Christ. Hebrews 8:10-13 & Isaiah 43:25
I can love God and trust Him fully now that I’ve gone through the wilderness and come through wiser, spiritually stronger, and certain that no matter what happens to me or those around me, or how I (or others) might stumble along the way that God is with me disciplining me, encouraging me, teaching me, blessing me, forming me, and rejoicing over me and that once I’m through a wilderness experience, I’ll be better able to serve Him by serving others using my experiences (good and bad) in doing so. Romans 8:28
Again, I don’t need to be perfect, just willing. I don’t need to be wonderful per se, just surrendered. I don’t need to be “happy,” just rejoicing (actively thankful and at peace and in praise of God) in all things. That’s it. I don’t need to know the “whys” if I truly trust Him. I can’t be at peace and rejoice if I HAVE to know why. God knows why, He's in control, He has a plan and He's allowed me some measure in it. That’s good enough for me. Job 42:1-3
There is no big mystery about how to change. We CAN’T change. At least, we can't using our own efforts. God changes us. And He changes us through relationship with Him and with others. He changes us through life circumstances. The “good,” the “bad,” and the “ugly” both of our own making and others. The closer we draw to God the more Christ-like we become. All those "do's" and "don'ts" become natural to us, a second nature. Our NEW nature.
Finally, I learned that He also wants me to stop obsessing with this temporary existence, the things in this life, this world, and start thinking about eternity and about His Son Jesus. My heavenly mansion (home) and my heavenly purpose (serving and praising God). Traffic jams, unfair bosses, nagging spouses, screaming kids, busted pipes, unforeseen bills, etc., do not matter in the view of the eternal promises God has made to us and that He will keep. It’s a lot easier to trust God and not worry, get anxious, frustrated, even angry once we realize that there is a lot better ahead of us. That the day will come when we’ll be in God’s presence fully healed, restored, perfect and happy FOREVER. The more that becomes our reality, the easier it gets to not let the temporal things of this world tempt us, annoy us, or affect us in any negative way. Hebrews 12:1-3 & Colossians 3:2
If my marriage isn’t going well perhaps it’s because I’ve made my husband or marriage an idol. Or perhaps I’m not making my spouse important enough to love him like I should with God’s grace. LOVE DOES NOT KEEP SCORE. Besides, if I’m focusing on the eternal promise I know my marital issues pale in comparison to an eternity spent in worshipping God and I trust God to give me the wisdom and guidance to be the wife my husband needs me to be and I have the faith that things will change for the better.
If my finances are a mess perhaps I’m a poor steward and not recognizing it’s God’s money, not MINE. I need to tithe, pay my bills ON TIME, give to those in need as much as I can afford, and not spend it impulsively on fleshly things. Besides, if I remember in eternity I’ll have a heavenly mansion, I can’t stand being a tad bit "poor" by worldly standards for a mere few decades.
If my job is too stressful perhaps I’m not praying while I’m at work for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, wisdom, and patience. Perhaps I'm not being as diligent and joyful a worker as I ought to be. Or perhaps I’m not doing the work I’m supposed to in the first place and I need to surrender my career to God. Besides, in eternity I’ll be happily serving God with praise and worship. I can stand a few decades of whatever I’m working on now.
If my kids are driving me nuts perhaps it’s because they are modeling my own sinful attitudes or it’s because I’m not taking enough time to spend with them teaching them God’s word or maybe it’s just because I haven’t surrendered them and their personalities to God (after all, He made them) and I need to trust He’ll transform them too like He did me. Besides, I’ll have all eternity to enjoy my kids in perfection. I can be patient with them in the now.
If my car keeps breaking down perhaps I need to take better care of it, or take the bus for a while because God wants me sharing His Son on the bus line with other passengers, or perhaps He wants me to have a bigger car so I can take a neighbor or two to Church. Besides, I won’t need a car for transportation in the afterlife. Maybe I’ll just blink or fly where I need to go then, but for now, I can hoof it, take a bus, or car pool!
All I have to remember is to keep surrendering, loving, trusting, and obeying God through all of it knowing it’s for my own good and the good of everyone around me. And then remember that one day before I know it, I’ll be in His presence forever!
Rest assured in all difficulties we are either being tempered (remodeled and reshaped) or disciplined (because something is too important or not important enough) Hebrews 12:4-12 . We must learn to be content and at peace as things are in the NOW or we will never be content no matter what. Philippians 4:11 And contentment can only come when we learn to surrender and truly trust in the Lord. If something is keeping you awake at night it has become your master. If something is causing you continual stress, worry, or frustration then you aren't surrendering it to God and you are its slave. Surrender to God is not enslavement, but not surrendering to Him certainly is. True freedom is becoming God's slave and not the slave of a job, a relationship, an organization, a habit, material things, etc. You are programed to serve even if it's your needs or wants. Only in serving God and God alone will you ever know peace.
However, even peace is a choice! If you don’t learn to be at peace and rejoice at this moment, how can you when it gets harder? Haha. You just can't. The fact is, even if things get better if we are discontent NOW we will be discontent LATER too. We must learn to be content with the way things are in the present so long as we are in relationship with Christ. Hebrews 13:5
If not it’s sort of like the woman who says, “My husband is a drinker. I wish he’d stop drinking.” Then when he does she says, “Well now I wish he’d become a Christian. He’s still going to hell.” Then when he does she says, “Well I wish he’d develop more spiritually. He’s still struggling over simple concepts and going so slow if not backwards!” Then when he matures and he moves up in the Church she says, “Wait, why does HE get that ministry? I’ve been in Church MY WHOLE LIFE and he’s only been in Church these past THREE YEARS and yet no one has ever asked ME to teach or lead anything! That’s not fair!!!” Just surrender. Let God be God. Think of our eternal promises. Only then will discontent vanish and you will experience peace along with all the blessings God has promised believers in the here and now.
In a nutshell, Christianity didn’t fail me. My CONCEPT of it did. God or the Church didn’t let me down. My IDEAS and OPINIONS of it did. God’s ways weren’t impossible. My PRIDE in trying to do them MY WAY was what was impossible. Only GOD’S way of doing things works. Only trusting in God can my faith succeed. Isaiah 55:9, Psalm 28:8, & Zechariah 4:6And if you've "tried" Christianity and it "failed" you I can promise you that it was THE faith that failed you it was YOUR brand of faith that failed. However, it's still not too late and you can still come home. All is not lost.
Surrender. Love. Show willingness. Demonstrate obedience. Always trust. Constantly rejoice. It's all very simple. Yet for prideful man so very difficult.
I had to let my concepts and ideas about God and His ways die. John 3:30 They had to fail and let me down so that I could finally say, “Lord, not MY way or the world’s way but YOUR way.” “Lord, I’m not worthy to be Your child but at least make me Your servant.”
And that is how I went from point A, a young child desperate to love God and be loved, to point B, a cynical, faithless, defiant, and bitter sinner, to point C, someone who loves God with all her heart and wants to do nothing more than serve Him in any way He asks of me. Whether that is by being a simple housewife and mother, or something out in the world in addition to those things. No matter how “big” or how “small,” nothing is more grand than just being in a sincere and loving relationship with Jesus and continually surrendering to God’s will day in and day out. All I had to do was finally let (everyone and everything) go and let God.
Sure I still fall down. Especially after working a long and hard day, then driving home to an often chaotic household. Sure I still get grumpy or even ill-tempered. I still lapse into judgment or gossip in weak moments when I haven't been praying inside or reflecting on scripture. However, this happens less and less now and when it does I realize it immediately and repent as soon as I catch myself. Temptation may yet abound but I’m learning day by day to keep plugged into the Holy Spirit through prayer, meditating on Scripture, and praising in song (even if only in my brain) to overcome it. And now when I fall down I don’t get defiant (it's not MY fault God, YOU made me this way!), or slink off in shame (I'm a lowly worm, God can't use me now). Instead I rush back into God’s arms and repent knowing He’s already forgiven me and then examine my failing as an OPPORTUNITY to learn and grow and become more Christ-like. That’s all God wants. A relationship WE care about enough to nurture and to grow from no matter what happens or how WE mess up. Matthew 3:8 & 1 John 1:9
In learning all these things (and it wasn't over night, it took a long time) I experienced the true meaning of salvation and learned the true nature of what it means to be a Christian. I was saved from eternal death yes. I was also saved from myself. I was saved from that awful, negative bitter, jaded, paranoid, gossipy, judgmental, spiteful person I loathed every time I looked in the mirror. As I said earlier, the things we lose are almost always replaced. Each facet of that old self I lost was replaced by a new one. Distrust became trust. Judgment became acceptance. Hatred became love. Discontent became satisfaction. Turmoil became peace. And so on.
God loves me. God loves YOU too. So much so He sent His Son to die so that you could have a personal, intimate, and loving relationship with Him no matter what you may have done and no matter what you fall into in the future. John 3:16 To not believe this or to believe any less than that is to believe a lie. And it is it short change yourself from a life that is full, blessed, and redemptive. This life is practice for eternity. It’s getting you ready for one existence or another. You get to choose where your eternity is going to be. God desperately wants you to spend it with Him. He wants what is best for you even if it means letting the sum of your decisions bring you suffering because it isn’t good for you or those in your life you care about (which is discipline). Hebrews 12:4-6 He wants you satisfied, calm, at peace, and rejoicing. Philippians 4:4 The only way to have that is to surrender to Him and love Him and let Him love you. And all you have to do is finally surrender and let go of all the things that distances you from Him one day at a time, moment by moment, with His help (by means of the Holy Spirit). Will you? Will you finally let go and let God?