Friday is coming….Friday is coming…Well, until it gets here it looks like we will continue on with the Proverbs 31 bible study on Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future by Derwin L. Gray.
I am going to be real honest here: I almost skipped this week. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did my study, I just didn’t like my writing options. Why? Well, I didn’t really feel like revisiting my past or talking about grace and obedience (again). But that is exactly what God laid on my heart.
Sometimes God asks us to do things we don’t want to do. So here goes nothing………..It is my stance that believing I was forever loved, accepted, and blessed was the catalyst to my obedience.
It took me a long time to believe that I was forever loved and accepted. I lived in fear my next mess up would be the last straw and God would finally give up on me. Yes, I knew the Bible said He loved me. After all, I learned that song when I was two, but I did not feel He loved me. After all, my own father didn’t love me (yes, I had daddy issues), how could Jesus?
I spent the early years of newfound Christianity (Christianity as an adult) trying to earn God’s love and acceptance, with the fear (as stated above) that one day I would disappoint Him for the last time and He too would walk away. I became angry when my works got me nowhere and I still felt distant from God. I had a longing in my heart to be better and do better, but I lacked the know-how. I didn’t know how to bridge the gap between me and God, between what I wanted to do and I what I did.
I began to read Christian books and let the authors disciple me. I began to grow and realize that God did love me and I was accepted and nothing I would ever do or not do would change things. I got it. I honestly did. But that alone did not lead me to where I needed to be. (Three books that really got me headed in the right direction: So Long Insecurity and Get Out of that Pit by Beth Moore and Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst)
Some of you may not like where this is going. I mean no disrespect to anyone. I understand and appreciate there are differences among us. I am not trying to tell anyone that they are wrong. I am, however, responsible for telling others what God has done in my life.
If you have ever read my blog before you know that I talk a great deal on obedience. Unfortunately, in today’s age “obedience” is often interchanged for “religion” and I sometimes (unfairly) get categorized as a “religious” person. If you know me at all, you will know that I am anything but religious. I am one to speak open and honestly. I am not afraid to share my faults and failures. I believe my salvation is not based on my works. I know the only reason I am standing today justified is because of God’s GRACE and the work Jesus did on the cross. I get grace, I honestly do. However, it was not Grace that took me to the next level in my walk with God, it was obedience and I hope you hear me out.
I will admit it, when I saw the title for Chapter 6: From Religious to Grace-Covered, I didn’t want to read it. Immediately, my back went straight and my defense mechanisms set in place. I am automatically defensive because so many people think you have to choose one or the other when the truth is they go hand in hand, Anyway, it was part of the study so I knew I had to read it even though I am beyond tired of this grace v. obedience (religion) debate going on in our Christian community. I don’t like the division it creates. And in the reality, a lot of us are saying the same things, just differently.
Mr. Grey had a lot of great things to say. I especially love his definition of religion:
“I define religion as humanity’s attempt to reach up and earn God’s acceptance, love, and blessings through good behavior (p. 121 of Kindle edition).
I concur with this definition and it was me for a number of years. It doesn’t fit me now because I know I am loved, accepted, and blessed just as I am. I don’t walk in obedience to be saved or earn my Father’s love, but rather because I am saved and I am loved. My obedience is the product of my salvation (which I got by grace) and not the method of my salvation.
I will be honest, when I first started walking in obedience, I struggled with the blessing part. I heard many sermons on blessings and I for a moment I thought my blessings were connected to my obedience. Then I read in one of Joyce’s Meyer’s books that said our blessings are not based on our obedience, rather that we are blessed when we are able to handle the blessings God has for us. This made so much since for me and freed me in ways I didn’t even understand at the time.
Anyway, when I read the book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst, I finally found the missing step. It was obedience I was missing. I knew the word of God, I believed the word of God, I just didn’t act on the word of God. I didn’t move when God called me to move and I didn’t live out the principles of the Bible. However, when I started making steps in obedience, my whole life seemed to fall into place (not that there weren’t problems because, boy, there were some tornadoes) and I found that “peace that surpasses all understanding”. I grew and I grew. My relationship with the Lord is beyond what I ever imagined. I got filled with the Spirit. The deep longing I felt inside all those years was indeed a calling. God put that longing in my heart so I would keep searching for Him; so that I could be the person I was called to be.
I do realize that without his grace I would not be able to walk in obedience. So, in a sense, everything does come down to God’s grace. I just hate to see people accept the grace and then do nothing with it.
I agree with almost everything Darwin Gary had to say about grace. I wish I had read his book, especially Chapter 6, all those years ago when I struggled to accept that God did love me and I did not have to earn His love. The only thing that worries me is how people interpret “religion” as “obedience”.
“The reality of being declared righteous transformed my life. As this gospel truth began to wallpaper my mind and penetrate my heart, it transformed how I saw myself.
I began to see what God saw. I no longer wanted to intentionally act in ways that did not reflect who God saw me as, the very righteousness of Christ. It was not religion that transformed me. It was the overwhelming reality that grace was stunning and more gorgeous than I ever imagined.” (p. 136 Kindle Edition)
Essentially, Mr. Gray and I are saying the same thing. I was transformed by knowing I was forever loved, accepted, and blessed by the Grace of God, which causes me to walk in obedience to my Lord.
In short, I am able to walk in obedience because I am forever loved, accepted , and blessed.
Be blessed and be a blessing!