I didn’t used to love God much. I didn’t love anyone except myself very much. But I had not yet been forgiven much…..
Back in 2008, I would have told you that I was a ‘Believer’. After all, I had believed since I was a young child that God existed and that Jesus died for my sins. Sure, I had sin in my life. Really big sin, but I thought, “doesn’t everybody?” I seemed to have no power over this life-dominating sin, so surely God couldn’t expect me to stop. I’m only human and that’s why Jesus died for me, right? I mean, other than this one thing, I was a really good person.
Then we started attending Cornerstone Bible Church in Westfield. God used his word as our pastor preached through the book of Titus to convict me of this sin that had entrapped me for more than 10 years. I had sinned against God and against my husband in profound ways. It was not OK. To remain in willful sin against God was not OK. I was under so much conviction as the Holy Spirit worked on my heart as Kirk preached that I wanted to flee from the sanctuary. But God used my pride to keep me from leaving. I both wanted God and wanted to run away. I wanted peace but could not figure any way to get it. Have you been there? But God is big and he can solve problems in ways we could never even think of. In bringing me to repentance a year and a half later, God called me to confess to my husband. Can you imagine? Our marriage was better than it had probably ever been – at least on the surface. Greg had no idea. In my wisdom I saw nothing good coming from telling Greg. I was convinced I would lose everything, Greg, the kids, our home, my job.
God had convicted me with His Word and now He was crushing my heart with the weight of my rebellion against him. It was here, at the end of my rope, that God spoke to my heart that he, the LORD, was enough. That even if I lost everything, he was enough and I had to tell my husband. By God’s strength and grace alone, I confessed to Greg, not sure what would come next, but trusting God with my life instead of leaning on my own wisdom. Trusting God like this was a first for me and while it was scary and hard, it was also so freeing to know that at last I didn’t have to control everything in my life. I didn’t have to hold it all together or even hold on to everything. I was in obedience to God and trusting him with whatever would come next.
The Lord chose to heal our marriage and cause Greg to forgive me and love me in spite of my deep and lengthy sin against him. As hard as it is to believe, God even gave us times of joy beyond understanding as we worked through the very painful details of the sin within our marriage. Not only did God heal our marriage, but he gently led Greg and me through scripture. I began to see myself more and more fully in God’s light. I understood for the first time the depth of my sinfulness and the wickedness of my heart. How could a perfect God, holy and righteous love me?
A part of me was still struggling to find something good within me that would cause God to choose me or at least accept me. It was a heavy load to bear, impossible given what I was learning about my heart. Finally, God set me free from this burden by showing me that I was not good enough for him. Not good enough to choose him. Not good enough for him to choose me. And I could never do anything to earn his love. He knew the depths of my wicked heart – even better than me – and chose to love me anyway. Are you kidding me?
To borrow words from Paul in Ephesians 2, I was by nature a child of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved me, even when I was dead in my trespasses, made me alive together with Christ – by grace I have been saved – and raised me up with him and seated me with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward me in Christ Jesus. Astounding!
As God brought me to understand my sinfulness, his love and Christ’s perfect sacrifice, he caused me to truly believe in Jesus for the first time. I had known John 3:16 since I was a little girl: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Intellectually, I had believed that Jesus lived and died and rose again, but I didn’t trust God or his word. When my own wisdom was in conflict with God’s word, I chose my way because I didn’t really believe in Jesus or trust God.
February of 2010 was the first time that I remember truly believing in God and trusting him – first in obeying him to confess to Greg, then more importantly, to trust in Jesus as Lord and savior of my life. I mean, he chose to love me and die for me while I was his enemy. How could I not trust him with my life? He is my redeemer, my savior, my friend. He purchased me with his life not because I was a good person, but in spite of how bad I was. I am still amazed.
My life has been so dramatically different over the past few years that I have become more and more convinced that I was not truly a child of God prior to that time. Now, having been justified by faith, I have peace with God through my Lord Jesus Christ. Peace that I had never known before. Peace that runs deep and causes joy to bubble up from the depths of my soul. Through Christ I have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which I stand and I rejoice in hope of the glory of God. By God’s grace and the foundation of his love, I have transparency now where I had secrets and hypocrisy before. By the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s word is the authority in my life and not my own intellect or feelings.
I have a profound love for God and for His Word which makes us wise for salvation and for Jesus Christ my redeemer – all because God first profoundly loved me and forgave me. I am eternally grateful and amazed that I have been so very much loved and so very much forgiven.