I will be so glad when this post is done today. I don’t know why, but I find this topic physically and emotionally draining. It absolutely takes everything out of me when I write or speak on it (in a good way).
I have been a Christian for most of my life. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know the Lord. When I say I knew the Lord, I mean that I knew of him; I believed in him; I loved him; however, I did not have the relationship with him that I have now. It is kind of hard to describe my current relationship with the Lord, but it is like we are inseparable. Where he goes, I go and I in return take him with me wherever I go. This new-found relationship is without a doubt the best thing to ever happen to me and I honestly believe I would have never gotten to this place without a complete surrender to his will and his ways.
You see, I too was like the Israelites I complained about earlier in this series. As long as my life was good, my relationship with God was good, but as soon as something happened I didn’t like, I became angry and distant. God would eventually save me and we would then repeat the same cycle over and over. I too, spent 40 years on a journey that should have taken 11 days because I was not willing to give the Lord my whole heart and my whole life. I wanted to have God in my life, but on my terms. I loved the Lord, but I honestly did not believe it was possible to live for God. Think about it for a moment. It took the Israelites 40 years to get to the promised land when it should have taken only 11 days. It would have taken 11 days to walk to the promised land, but because of their disobedience they wandered around and around and around! Sound familiar? Ever wonder why the same problems keep coming at you? Well, it is probably because you haven’t done what you were supposed to do or haven’t learned what you were supposed to learn.
For most of my adult life I felt a longing to do more for God; be more than who I was. I got so frustrated because I was desperately searching for someone to help me, someone to show me how to get there. Churches along the way seemed promising, but never seemed quite able to take me where I felt I should be going. It honestly felt I was on the edge of greatness, but I could never seem to get there. I also felt a longing for a ministry (not a specific one), but I didn’t understand it because I knew I was not a good enough Christian for ministry! It was so frustrating for me and I became angry and withdrew for a time. I became angry at God and even my church because I knew we were missing something. I knew deep in my heart I was missing something.
The great change in my life began when I read the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst and my desire to walk in obedience took form. I quickly realized what I had missed. God wasn’t going to magically change me, I was going to have to make the changes. So, little by little I made some changes. I quit smoking. I got into the word everyday. I made the choice to forgive people who didn’t deserve my forgiveness. Why? Because the Bible said so. On and on it went, hard choice after another. In the beginning of this process I had my pastor on speed dial, but somewhere along the way it got easier. I also noticed that the closer I drew to the Lord, my dependency on my friends and pastor lessened. A year or so into this process I went to a conference and was filled with the Holy Spirit. My life has not be the same since; not because of anything I have done but because of what God is doing in me. Yes, I had to make hard choices, after all we do have free will, but I would not have been able to do it without his love, support, encouragement, and the power of his grace and Holy Spirit.
I would like to say that things have been smooth sailing since I began to walk in obedience and was filled with the Holy Spirit, but this has been one of the hardest years of my life. My husband lost his job, we moved his parents out-of-state and then found out his mom has cancer, there have been difficulties in my church, on and on it goes. That being said, it has been one of the most peaceful years of my life! Say what? It is true. It has been peaceful because I fully trust the Lord to make all these things work for good. I am trusting in the plan God has for my life, a plan to prosper and not harm me, a plan to give me a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). Before this year I never understood the scripture:
Philippians 4:7 (NLT):7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
I didn’t understand it because I didn’t feel it. I didn’t have peace because I didn’t have the relationship with God that I needed. This awesome relationship with God developed the more I loved him and the more I loved him the more I surrendered to his will for my life.
I would also like to point out that God does not base his blessings on our performance or obedience. No, it is my belief that he blesses us when we are able to handle the blessings. I had the desire for a ministry, but God could not give me a ministry because I was not ready for it. If he would have blessed me with a ministry at the time I wanted it, it would have failed and failed miserably. Like the Israelites, I too had tho wander the wilderness and not take the easy route because I was not ready. God wasn’t going to just wave a magic wand and make me better. No, I had to make the choices. I had to walk on the road of obedience in order to be ready for the blessings and ministry he had for me.
What does all this have to do with grace and obedience? Well, I believe without a doubt that I would never have gotten to the place I am now without surrendering to the will of God in all areas of my life. I never would have been able to begin walking the road to obedience without his grace. No, I would still be wondering the wilderness right now. You see, grace and obedience are not two separate things. It was not intended for us to have one or the other. We are called to embrace both.
As I stated at the beginning of this series, I was not thrilled when I arrived at Beth Moore’s Simulcast and learned that the topic was on grace and the Law. I hold firm to what God spoke to my spirit, so I wasn’t about to let Satan confuse me even if it was through Beth Moore. The good news is that I needed not fear because she actually confirmed everything God spoke to me. I was greatly relieved because I absolutely adore and respect Beth and know she speaks truth, so I am very thankful God did not allow me to have battle that out in my mind. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier in the series, it is my belief that Beth believes in obedience (don’t carry around our old selves) she just doesn’t want us, Christians, beating ourselves up over are failures and she wants us to use the power of grace to follow Jesus. The most eye-opening experience of the whole conference for me was when she spoke about the strippers being saved. [God really smacked me over the head with this one.] Beth told us about the time when some strippers came to her conference and one of them came down and was saved. My honest, first reaction to this story was “Yeah, but how long before she was back on the pole!” I almost didn’t believe I thought it either. Immediately, God slapped me on the side of my head and made me realize just how easily pride and judgmental attitudes can destroy a ministry. We want people like the stripper to come to Jesus, even if they go back to the pole. Why? A seed has been planted. Just like it was in me. It sometimes takes years of watering and pulling weeds before the seed grows, but most seeds eventually sprout. God’s warning to me was clear: Do not think yourself better than others, because it wasn’t that long ago you were on the pole (figuratively); never forget where you came from and who made you who you are today.
I want to close with this scripture:
John 10:17-18 (NLT): “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.
Those who say we don’t live under the Law, we live under grace are 100% correct. We don’t have to follow the Law, but we should choose to follow his ways because we love our Lord. As the scripture indicates, Jesus did not have to die on the cross for us; he could have said no, but his love for his father and us was so great, he was willing to give up his life. Are you willing to do the same? Are you willing to give up your wants, desires, and wills in order for Christ to live?
It is my prayer that this series will encourage at least one to stop resting on their free gift of grace and start walking in obedience not because they have to but because they love the Lord and want to be the person he or she was created to be. Remember, we don’t walk in obedience to be saved but because we are saved. Thereby, our obedience is the product of our salvation and grace is our power to obey.
Until next time, stay safe and God bless,