I’ll never forget the big ol’ hat I wore way back when to that Easter service or the handful of Sunday School crafts I made as a child. I grew up with a general belief that God exists, He created everything, and He is ultimately in control of it all. My parents had high moral standards. They taught me respect and honesty and loyalty. I attended church services in high school and after, but it wasn’t until I was 25 years old that it finally connected and God revealed some pretty amazing truths to me.
At my core, I’m a perfectionist so God didn’t have to convince me that I am a great sinner in need of a greater Savior. I knew I was a mess and I spent a lot of time beating myself up over every single mistake and bad decision. At a church service I had no intention of attending, the preacher asked the question, “If you died right now, would go to heaven or hell?” He said if you don’t know the answer, it’s probably hell. That shook me hard and I raised my hand when he asked if anyone wanted to accept Christ and go to heaven.
I attended service at that church for almost a year. The message I heard over and over fit right in with what I was already telling myself, I’m a failure and since I cannot seem to follow these rules, I always will be. I needed hope, but all I found was a heavier burden. I couldn’t bear it, I didn’t know how to rely on Jesus, no one gave me a book on that, so I stopped going to church. I was still desperate for my Savior, but I didn’t know how to follow Him.
Another invitation to a different kind of church led us to the church we now call family. Everything changed when we met these people. I attended a bible study where the most amazing truth was given to me. A life-changing truth that I cling to every single day. It’s so simple even my kids know it already, but I had no idea before that day… God. Loves. Me.
I knew this in the general sense, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16, but I was operating from a position of doubt. I felt like God accepted me because He did say everyone and I definitely qualified for that, but I felt like He was putting up with me, not that He chose me. But friends He did choose me, and He chooses you too! Right in the middle of your mess, He says “I love YOU and I want YOU to spend eternity with Me!”
I stopped operating from guilt and shame and finally I could say, “I am a daughter of the King! God is my Father and He loves me!” It was the beginning of a brand new story for me!
It can be the beginning for you too. You don’t have to dig too deep to know you’re a sinner – we all are – God sent His Son to save you from that. Jesus was born in the most humble way, lived a perfect life, died a brutal death, and rose to life again to defeat sin and death for us ALL. Then He goes on to meet us where we need Him and loves us so personally and so lavishly! We don’t deserve it, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.
Yes, salvation is about heaven or hell, but it’s more than that. It’s about letting Jesus lead you, not from a place of fear or performance, but from grace and love. It’s about learning to love others the way He loves us all and following Him to an abundant life of true joy and peace.
It’s a brand new book that takes a lifetime to write and you hand Him the pen. Oh and then you learn to stop taking it back from Him.
I’m so thankful He loves this imperfect wild one… I would be so lost without Him.
How about you, what’s your story?