Usually, I keep a fairly formal approach in my writing, but today I decided to be a bit informal for some strange reason.
To start with, I am a 20 something female and have been a Christian for slightly over four years. I do not profess any denomination of church, but rather simply try to follow Christ through means directly found in Scripture. I believe in the Messiah, Jesus Christ; who died for our sins, resurrected on the Third Day that we may have everlasting life, and will come again.
I grew up in a Christian home, attended church service on a regular basis, and had a very Christian education throughout all my school years. For most of my childhood and early teenage years, I thought I was a Christian because I “knew” all the correct Sunday school answers and attempted to live a “good” Christian life. I followed a strict legalistic pattern in my “religion”; do this, don’t do that, think this, don’t think that, this is right, this is wrong. Everything I did had to be justified by Scripture; in essence, I was a Pharisee. My religion possessed no inwardness; I was a whitewashed tomb, a pretty Christian. Looked good on the outside, but the inside was filled with fear, rage, and bitterness. I hated doing all those things, hated the rules, hated trying to be someone I wasn’t. Faking it, hoping I would make it, hoping I would be good enough to get into heaven.
When I hit about 14 or 15, then I realized it. This was all an act. Not an act to please other people so much as it was to try to satisfy my internal desires. I was filled with fear that God would hate me and reject me as so many others had, but I couldn’t understand why. Why was I filled with fear? I did all the “right” things, but there was no peace or security. So I rebelled.
One trait in my rebellion that seems now to be strange to me is that I never threw off the rules and regulations I piled on myself, I maintained them nearly the same as before. But I stopped caring. I didn’t care if it pleased God or not. In my mind, I decided that God was nothing but an anxiety trigger, and I wanted nothing to do with a God like that. A God that didn’t love or care unless I made myself perfect. I didn’t understand anything about love or care, not because I didn’t experience it, but rather because I couldn’t recognize it. I only continued in my pattern because that pattern was familiar to me. After the initial recognition of this deprived state, I merely accepted that hell was my destiny and no longer fought against trying to get myself to heaven.
Flash forward several months:
One year, my parents finally allowed me to purchase a Quarter horse. This horse was a two-year-old green broke filly who had never loped (that is, like a slow run). After riding her a bit over the winter at a trot and walk, spring came. The bright idea of trying to get her to run came to mind; naturally on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere pretty much by myself.
After several moments of trying to motivate her, we finally got into an awkward lope. Because of being nervous, my lack of riding skills became apparent, and she decided it would be an excellent opportunity to show how well she could buck. Off I go, right into the very hard ground in front of her. But, due to being about a mile away from the nearest neighbor, I held onto the reins so she couldn’t run away and leave me to walk. She spooked because I was laying on the ground, and clinging to the reins which was attached to a bit, which spooked her even more with the harsh pressure in her mouth. In order to try to relieve that pain, she naturally came closer and ended up on my chest. This was a new thing, stepping on a squishy human! She then decided the best thing to do was jump up and down on top of me. I have no idea how long she did this for, it felt like 10 minutes, but probably was closer to thirty seconds. When at last she had enough, or somehow I let her have more rein, I managed to sit up. It hurt like crazy to breathe.
To shorten this story, my mother ended up making me go to the emergency room. After going through X-rays and examination, the doctors found the results amazing. I shouldn’t be alive today. From the location of the bruises and the weight of the horse, there should have been several broken ribs and crushed my lungs and heart. But God protected me and didn’t allow this to happen. All that excitement only left very large and deep bruises and a struggle to breathe for a long time. Even today, it can be hard to breathe at times, but thankfully nothing serious.
Why did God protect me, an unrepentant sinner who stopped caring about Him? Even after this accident, I continued down that same path for a few more months. Many people would have gotten their act together and figured things out quickly after an accident like that, but it made no difference to me. I never stopped believing that there was a god of sorts due to the integrated complexity found in nature, but the belief in a personal loving God seemed silly. I was hardened to the Gospel, and refused to accept that evidence of the attributes of God; in other words, I was leaning on my own understanding of how thing should work, and refused to trust anyone other than myself.
Eventually, the Spirit softened my heart. Perhaps the reflection on the accident helped me to realize how powerless I am, and that reasoning won’t solve all problem. Surviving wasn’t reasonable, yet here I am. Assuredly, no amount of my power saved me. It was grace in a very real sense.
No longer am I held captive by a spirit of fear, for there is no fear in love. No longer do I need to be afraid of not doing all the “right” things, for my salvation is of God and not of me. The Truth has set me free, the Life has breathed into me, making a new creation.
He loved me before I loved Him, He died while I was yet a sinner that I may have salvation. Reasonably, this concept holds a strong degree of absurdity. Yet, it remains true.
By faith, I learned to trust.
By grace, I am saved.
By love, I am perfected.
None of which I can do on my own. It the power of God manifested in me. No amount of good works will save me, and the law leads to death. Praise God who came to save all people!
Thanks for reading!