I wanted to start this post out with an apology. I wrote a post titled, Is Your Faith Planted in Good Soil?, a few weeks ago. After I published it, I had a nagging feeling that I shouldn't have. Some people confirmed that I should publish it, but the Holy Spirit pressed on me to delete it. So I did, and I'm sorry if it offended anyone.
So, here's what I should have written:
Have you ever been taken to a place in life from which there's no turning back? If you don't know what I'm talking about, listen to this sermon a dear friend sent me from Watermark Church in Tampa, titled All Things New (thanks Kristin!).
For me, 2017 was this type of year. It was a year where God took me from places to which I can't return, and to places that are changing me every day. The places God has taken me are challenging and painful, but it is in this suffering that He has worked mighty things in my heart and life.
In the above sermon, Pastor Tommy states that the significance of our present is always in the context of our past, and that we shouldn't look back on our past with bitterness. Rather, we should look back on our past with thankfulness for bringing us to our present. With that being said, I want to thank my past and everyone in it for shaping who I am and bringing me to where I am today. Thank you to all those who loved me, hurt me, challenged me, empathized with me, agreed with me, disagreed with me, taught me, deceived me, accepted me, rejected me, ministered to me and even hated me. Without you all, the significance of my present wouldn't be as great.
In 2017, God revealed some pretty huge life things to me. I finally started to understand the true message of the Gospel, which is that we are a broken people and need help - and more specifically, I am a broken person and need help. Thankfully, our sovereign God has an answer to that brokenness, which is Jesus. Jesus bore our brokenness on the cross - our pain, our suffering, our pride, our violence, our diseases, our hatred, our depression - so that we could have life and freedom, through Him. Christianity has become a lot of things that it isn't, which is sad and wrong. (If you are not a Christian and are reading this, I apologize on behalf of anyone who has misrepresented Jesus or hurt you by doing things in His name, myself most definitely included.) True Christianity is what all of our hearts long for: An answer to our brokenness and pain from a God who loves every broken part of us.
Jesus met me in my brokenness this year and as I fell apart, He began to rebuild. He took away my pride and replaced it with deeper humility; He took away my idolatry and replaced it with worship; He took away my fear and replaced it with a (really new and weird) peace and confidence in Him. I started to change in ways I had never changed before in my Christian walk because I finally understood the value of repentance and the freedom that's available in Christ.
That's the other beautiful part of the Christian walk: When we surrender to Christ and lay our whole selves at His feet, He will strengthen us, heal us, and change us. The Christian walk isn't a call to perfection, but rather a call to faithful repentance and acknowledgement that in our weakness, Christ is our strength, and that we can't get through this beautiful and challenging life without Him. Our imperfections are where words like grace and love, sin and repentance, and surrender and freedom really start to resonate.
At the end of January of this new year, I'm so thankful for all God has revealed to me about myself and more importantly, about Him. If you're in a place where you need prayer, support, or want to know more about my story, please reach out.
To close, here are some of my most favorite songs from talented people who can provide a little insight into my (and many people's) relationship with Jesus - the most beautiful name: