It's amazing what God has been doing in my life the past couple months.
I have called myself a Christian for years. I was born in the church (not literally) and believed that Jesus died for my sins. Although at the age of 5, how could I have really known what that meant when I didn't fully understand the depth of my sin? I finally saw Jesus as something more than a distant deity at the age of 14 at a summer retreat and subsequently spent the rest of my high school years serving as a leader in youth group. But did I do that because I loved Jesus, or more because I so desperately needed to belong to something, to be someone?
There have been a few points in my life where I really did consider walking away. And the thought always terrified me. What meaning could my life possibly have if it wasn't already defined for me? Make my own meaning? It seemed bleak when I had grown up believing that I had a purpose beyond myself designed by a perfect God. More significantly, I was afraid to determine my own path. I'm not perfect: what a burden it would be for me to determine my own purpose for my life. As an imperfect being, what if I failed? What if my purpose was flawed as I was? That would mean I failed at life. God was my safety net, to reassure me that no matter what I did or didn't do, I'd be fine.
Just to note: I'm saying all this in the knowledge that comes through hindsight. At those times when I considered walking away, the thought of rejecting God filled me with inexplicable fear. I didn't question it, I didn't understand it, but it caused my heart to tremble.
And so because of my fear to step away from what I knew and was comfortable with, I stayed. Unfortunately, I did not grow very much spiritually despite what I had experienced in high school and part of college. Some moments of clarity, blessing, and assurance; many seasons of spiritual drought. And I often convinced myself that I was a mature Christian because of my devotion to church, and because of my adherence to the obvious list of things I should or should not do.
But praise God that He works in me anyway and brings about a change that is not due to my own actions. I have never felt such a desire to know Him, to soak up His word, to fill my heart and my mind with the knowledge of Him. And I see that even though I didn't feel like I grew much in the last few years, I now know that He has been slowly but surely molding me to be like Christ even through my failures.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." [Hebrews 12:2, emphasis mine]
In this article on StuffChristiansLike, the author writes, "The actions that blossom from my relationship with God are completely different from the actions that start in my own desire to fix something." And I have seen that come true in the last two months. Not only has God been changing my heart and mind, he really is challenging and enabling me to follow through and act on the things He's pressing on my heart. And it's definitely not because of my principles telling me I have to or I should, but my soul saying that I want to, because I love Him.
Thank you, Lord. I have moments of fear here and there when I don't want to carry out your will because it might set me against the mainstream, or because I lose sight of my identity in You, but it's not my strength and ability that accomplishes Your work, it's You. Help me to surrender to all that You have willed for me. I know that even in my most difficult moments, I will find joy and peace in knowing and loving You.