One of the worst misconceptions about Christians–because so many people use and abuse the designation for their own gain–is that we can do whatever we want because God will forgive us anyway. While it is true that God’s love and Jesus’ blood covers all sins, Christians are not to abuse the grace that He has extended towards us. Romans 6:1-2 says, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Paraphrase) True Christianity is far from a breezy walk in the park. In fact, the closer you get to God, the more you may feel like everything about your life got that much harder. God is love, and part of that love is discipline and necessary growth. He loves us into the positions and places He has for us and more times than not, that growing process is not as simple as moving from A to B. You will have moments where you question if this walk is worth it, if God’s promises are real…you may have moments when you just have to stop and ask God “I’m not done, yet?!” Because he’s doing and allowing so much to happen at one time, your mind can’t comprehend everything that’s going on. You can’t see the end from the beginning. You don’t know WHAT’S right or wrong anymore, you forget what started you on this path in the first place.
But then He comes, like the good, good Father He is. Whether it’s in a whisper, a hug from a loved one, a smile from a stranger, a laugh from your child, a kind word from a friend, and He gives you a peace that you cannot understanding. Your circumstances haven’t changed, and you can’t even tell when they might. But you know that God’s in control and you trust that anything He does is better than what you can do yourself. So you find the strength to praise God anyway, worship anyway, smile anyway, keep walking anyway, pray anyway and let His love overflow from YOU.
Being a Christian is not a “get-outta-jail-free-card”. It is about a Perfect Love, who loves imperfect people enough to not let them stay where they are, so long as they are willing to let Him move in their lives. I don’t love Jesus because it’s easy–I love Jesus because even when I tried to take control of my own life the best way I saw how, I failed. But His love still covered me, and His hands held me, and He blessed me beyond measure even when I didn’t deserve it. He doesn’t allow me to be “stuck in my ways”. Even when I think I’m right, He teaches me how to see things from the other perspective. He leaves room for me to grow and He never leaves me, no matter how long it takes me to understand what He’s doing.
There have been plenty times when I’ve felt overwhelmed with what is expected of me as a Christian. After fighting things on my own, crying too many tears to number, telling God I was ready to give up, He met me right where I was and reminded me that His grace is sufficient for me, His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) THIS is where we celebrate His grace. When we’ve fought the good fight, we’ve tried to do right, we’ve listened to the preachers, our teachers, our parents and still things don’t seem to change. It’s when our humanity limits us from the ability to stand on our own because what we’re facing is deeper than those people talking behind your back, that parent abandoning you, that child who won’t heed your warnings, that spouse who has broken your covenant, that boss who won’t give you the raise you deserve, that professor who won’t give you the grade you deserve because you won’t entertain his sexual advances. These things you cannot control. These things you cannot fix. But they wear you down and folks will try to tell you that true Christians don’t let their circumstances get the best of them. The truth is, true Christians know there is only one person who can change their circumstances and give them the strength to endure until the change comes about. True Christians cry sometimes, doubt sometimes, question sometimes, lose faith sometimes, but are kept all the time. Like a shepherd bringing a stray sheep back into the flock, God will only let His children wander so far before He gently leads us back into the fold. We’re not meant to handle life alone. If we were, why would we need God? If we could fix everything, we would glorify ourselves, give ourselves the credit and completely discredit God’s ever-presence in our lives. And when we fail–because we will–we would not be able to handle that weight.
Sometimes my faith is really strong. I can uplift, encourage, trust and see God’s hand in everything. Other times, I’m begging for Him to show His face, to intervene, to come RIGHT now because if I have to deal with “this thing” just one more second, I’m going to explode! I hate those moments. I feel like a bad Christian, a weak woman. I even get mad at God, thinking “why couldn’t we just stay in that happy place, Jesus? What are you trying to teach me this time?” Not only does He check my attitude, He draws me closer to Him. I begin to look at all He has done instead of focusing on what I have not yet seen Him do–and I say that because time after time He has shown me that He’s already had it worked out. I always want to skip the growing pains, just reach my goal already. But if it weren’t for my low points, dark times, lonely days and nights, I would only be able to love God when things were good. I would only be able to thank Him for the big things. I wouldn’t have learned the importance of thanking God to see a new day, to have good health and strength, to see my family one more time, to have food to eat without money in the bank, to have a voice for the voiceless, to have all the things that are stressing me ALL THE WAY OUT! I wouldn’t have learned to hear His voice in the midst of noise or when it’s absolutely quiet. Without those moments, my faith would not have grown.
I love Jesus because even as He reveals areas where I need to grow, He shows His love for me at every stage. His intention is not to keep me down by pointing out my flaws. His purpose is to reveal my purpose and give me the tools necessary not only to get there, but to sustain me. Some days I’m not this positive. Some days I really want God to take it all away. But I thank God for his new mercies and grace every morning. I’m thankful that when life seems to be getting the best of me, God reminds me who I am and whose I am.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” Romans 8:18
Stay faithful, friends. And even when you feel like you can’t, rest in knowing that GOD is faithful. He’ll never leave you nor forsake you.