This is a story of my journey from frustration, discouragement, and despair to sweet rest and joy in the saving and transforming power of Christ. What I have learned has made such a difference in my life that I have to share it with every other seeker after the righteousness of Christ. I don‟t know about you, but I want more out of my Christianity than being forgiven, justified, cleansed and declared just as if I had never sinned. I‟m sure that would shock some people because justification, which I partially described above is vital to salvation, but there‟s more, much more that God longs to give His children and I want that too. Besides needing to be justified I also need to experience God‟s power in my life; daily changing the kind of person I am, (sanctification) and I need Him to be my „very present help in time of trouble‟. What this means is that along with justification I need God to provide sanctification, and I need to
know He‟s so close that even a silent prayer brings the help I need. There is real delight in a relationship with God that‟s built on gratitude, trust and reliance on Him. Such an experience brings a person so close to God that praise is a natural result. Praise and gratitude from a heart that‟s in God‟s hands brings joy to His heart. God delights in answering the prayer of His children, He delights in a heart that‟s surrendered to Him, He delights in fixing what‟s broken in us and teaching us to delight in Him. He delights in praise that comes from a heart filled with love and gratitude, not just for what He does for us but for Who He is. We have probably all have thought, at one time or another, that wealth would make us happy, that if we didn‟t have to struggle so much we would be content. But, each day we find that instead of our ship having come in we have missed the boat. We 2
seem to be always seeking and never finding. Could it be that we‟re looking for the wrong treasure and in all the wrong places? This was true for me in my spiritual life, until I finally did find the Pearl of Great Price, the Way of Gladness. The relief and joy that comes with this discovery can‟t be described it must be lived. When I first committed my life to God I really did so with love and gratitude, and the desire to serve Him. During the years that followed I had huge ups and downs. I would have periods of struggling to do what God wanted me to do, sometimes doing pretty well, I thought, and other times wondering why I couldn‟t get it right. I would pray about a particular thing in my life, resolve to overcome the temptation to give in to it and try hard not to fail. But fail I did, over and over, day after day, prayer after prayer. Finally I would just give up and leave the whole issue alone, but eventually it 3
would come back to nag me. Then filled with guilt, disgusted with myself, I would go through it all again. These weren‟t the huge „ugly‟ sins that you might suspect that I was fighting; they were things like appetite, attitude, and lack of power to change myself. I would swing from being squeaky conservative in everything to giving up and just doing whatever seemed easy. Mostly though, in my desire to be „right with God‟ I leaned hard to the conservative legalistic side. I was going about things all wrong. I was trying for results without doing what it took to get them. It would be like reading about growing apples, buying fertilizer and apple picking equipment, preparing the orchard, and agonizing over the fact that you are growing no apples, trying everyday to think of a way to grow them, even pleading for apples to grow, but never planting an apple tree.
I eventually became so discouraged that I was convinced I could never be saved. Just look at me! Anyone could see that I had no victory in my life, and without that there was no hope for me. I still intended to live the „Christian life‟ and try to lead others to the Lord, but had no hope for myself. It was the darkest hole I have...
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