I want to spend some time sharing a little bit about a big part of my heart. Congruently, this also means sharing some of my testimony. I will be posting segments of God’s story in my life for you to read over the next few weeks. Here is “part 1”…
8 years ago, I started attending a new church. I had just come "home" from a year of backsliding. This wasn't your typical "turn from the Lord and drink, do drugs, and date promiscuously" backsliding. It was sneakier than that. I walked away from any fellowship that I had and purposed to not go to church, read my bible, or do things "the right way."
I went after my own gods. That meant new work, new friends, a new town, a new identity. And I was miserable. But I was miserable with a smile on my face. I didn't go to sleep depressed and I didn't wake up thinking about how much my life sucked. I simply woke up and moved on with my day, calling myself a Christian, and yet, choosing how I wanted to live my life, did everything with my own terms. I had fun. I met some fun people, I was happy.
Then, one of my best friends came back from a mission trip to Ukraine. I drove to the coast to hang out with her (I was living in Bakersfield at the time) and hear about her trip. We spent upward of 4 hours talking about it. I left that day to drive home with a lot to think about. When she talked about her trip, you saw the joy in her smile. You saw the conviction of truth in her words. You saw the growth of her walk; you saw her maturity in the Lord. And I was jealous. I cried out the the Lord on that drive home. I needed to make some changes.
I wanted more of Him and I knew what that mean: turning back to Him, relying on Him, re-dedicating my life to Him. So, I laid it all down on the table. As I did, things started getting more clear for me. I was choosing my own friends: I needed to get back into fellowship. I was walking away from a closeness to the Lord: I needed to draw closer to the Lord by letting Him come near me again. I didn't want to change: I needed to WANT change. This shedding of myself and putting on of the Lord ultimately led to me turning around in a months time and moving back to the central coast. Moving in with new roommates. Attending a new church. Finding fulfillment in the Only One who can fulfill.
Ultimately, I look back at that time and I realized the foolishness of my own desires triumphing over the Lord's will in my life. Romans 1 talks about the Lord giving "them" over to their own desires and lusts...because it is what they chose. But the words of Jesus in Matthew is what resonate with me through that period of my life:
"Come to Me,
all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy
and My burden is light."
For the first time in over a year, I felt light again. I was walking back into the JOY of following the Only one worth following. I could breathe again because I wasn't so focused on not trying to drop things. I ran freely into the rest that He offered.
I haven't regretted it since.
(If you are reading this and don't yet know the joy, freedom, light-weight rest that Jesus offers to everyone (that includes me and you!), please don't hesitate to ask! The bible says that we are all just as wretched as the next and yet, in all of our glorious filth, Jesus chose to come and offer us a way to become clean again. It is called salvation and it is only by truly believing that His Son was sent to this world as a payment for your filth and sin, died the death that we deserved, and conquered that sin by raising again from the dead 3 days later that we might have eternal life through Him. I would love the opportunity to tell you more: firstname.lastname@example.org)