Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dying to Self

 Well this is a hard one to write.

I accepted Christ into my heart when I was thirteen years old.  Now I am almost twenty-seven.  So for fourteen years I have been a child of God and He has been living in me.  There have been moments when I felt the breath of God all over me (the times I was seeking His face and feeding myself with the Word), and there have been moments when I felt like I couldn't find Him anywhere (the times I was living out of selfishness and closing my ears to his voice).  Although I've always known Him and had a relationship with Him, it breaks my heart to think of the number of years I wasted keeping God at arm's distance from me.  I wanted to hear from Him when I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and living according to His will for my life, but I always pushed Him aside when I was living of this world.  Here's the thing that I didn't understand when I became saved...  when I accepted Christ I became His home.  He lives in my heart.  And every time I sinned or fell short it grieved my heavenly Father.  It wasn't until I became a mom that I fully grasped what that meant.  As a parent it breaks my heart to imagine Kollyns sad or weak or making bad choices.  That gave me a small glimpse into what the Lord felt every single time I let him down and when it hit me I became overwhelmed with sadness.  Praise God that He has forgiven me for some bad choices that I have made and that He has never left me even when I didn't feel Him near.  That's the beauty of a relationship with Him.  He never forsakes us no matter how many times we break his heart because he loves us that much.  Every one of us no matter what.  There have been a lot of things going on in the lives of the people I love lately that have literally shook me all the way down to the depths of my soul.  I have watched good people hurting because of other's selfishness, I have watched some hurt because of their own self-centeredness and unwillingness to fight off desires of the flesh with the armor of God.  I have witnessed real life rock-bottom in the hearts of very important people in my life.  I've been through countless emotions starting with anger that brought out a side of me I hope to never let surface ever again.  I have been judgmental and harsh towards the ones who hurt the people I love though God quickly convicted me about it and revealed to me that it was not my place.  I have been disappointed, disheartened and discouraged.  I have spent hours in prayer begging God to take away these feelings and thoughts about people because they were dirtying my own heart in the process.  I was led to begin studying Ephesians and through my time in the Word I decided I would no longer let the sinfulness of other's harden my heart and lead to my own sinfulness. I was no better than them because I was giving the devil a foothold by spewing anger and harsh words because the situation had "kicked my bucket" and ugliness sloshed out. Ephesians 4:29-32 smacked me right in the face. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come from your mouths, but only what is helpful for building other's up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger...Be kind and compassionate towards one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ouch.  My outlook on the situation began to change and every time I felt anger start to rise I suppressed it and began to pray.  Which led to me praying for the ones I was once so angry with.  I felt like I was released from all of it because truthfully the sins of others are between them and God so why should I waste my time being angry and allow it to negatively effect my own life?  Yes, many have been hurt including myself and ones I love with my whole heart, but God's grace is sufficient in our deepest moments of pain and that is more than enough to take care of things.  My anger and bitterness wasn't helping anything.  It was so wrong of me to allow those feelings to take hold of me and I'm so thankful that God pulled me out of that muck.  But I can say through all of this I have learned so much.  I have learned that there are two types of lives we can live.  The 'Me' life or the 'God' life, there's no in between.  No good comes from living based on worldly standards and justifying our actions because our response is acceptable according to our human nature. Or because we feel like we're allowed those emotions because we have been hurt.  And just because anger and harshness are the very natural responses to the situation, it doesn't mean they are right.  I had to die to myself and give every bit of it to God because I knew I wasn't capable of feeling how I was supposed to feel on my own.  Compassion and kindness began pouring out of me and I found myself in a much happier and peaceful place.  Having Christ living in us and allowing Him to work through us means dying to the flesh almost every single day.  It isn't always easy, but it's the most rewarding path for my life.  I don't remember a single time in my life when sinfulness or self-centeredness resulted in joy or peace.  God desires for us to enjoy this life that He has given us, and the only way that can be done is through Him.

I know this was heavy stuff, but God has been laying it on my heart to share it for a very long time.  I just wasn't in the place where I felt like I could.  If you don't have a relationship with Him and this seems crazy to you, I encourage you to seek His face.  You know in your heart that something is missing and nothing of this world can satisfy that hunger.  Fill it with the One that has died for You and given his life so you don't have to bear the burdens of this world.  He paid the ultimate price so that His gift of grace and forgiveness would be free for us.  All we have to do is accept it.

I have such a long way to go but I thank God everyday that I'm not where I used to be.  So thankful for his mercy and grace in my life.  What a beautiful Savior.

(I accidentally deleted this post and was able to recover it.  Sorry for the re-post, but I never want to lose these words because this was such an important lesson I learned.)

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