Once upon a time I did not know God and I chose to walk my own way without concern about anyone except for myself and my wants and needs. But God still chose to love me while I was yet His enemy.
Choices were made that made me question what was going on in my life. And through the boldness of a preacher’s wife, I found the courage to face who I was in light of who my Lord is. On that day, I became a child of God.
Choosing to become a child of God changed everything and yet it changed nothing. In the spiritual realm I became an adopted daughter, a high priest, a bride, a sister, and the knowledge that forever I shall be in companionship with God in Heaven. In the physical, I still had to deal with the consequences of the decisions I had made while not walking God’s path for me.
It was a time of life that I wouldn’t wish on anyone; hardships and stresses unfolded daily upon me. And yet, through it all, there was the redeeming presence of my Jesus.
Taking the time to getting to know Him and to understand Him, He started changing me from the inside out. Guiding, directing, leading and transforming me into the person that I am today. He gave and continues to give me grace, wisdom and strength to endure trials and persecution that I brought on myself for decisions that I made when I did not know Him and for being a Christian.
He extended forgiveness to me when I didn’t deserve it. He extended friendship to me when I thought I was alone. He extended grace to me when I deserved punishment. He taught me to forgive others and then taught me to forgive myself. And as I grew in Him I found that I was taking on His characteristics.
Now on the other side of a twelve year consequence, I have been asked: “Was it worth standing for God when you were persecuted so much?” And my answer: “What I have done is nothing compared to what He has done for me.”
Am I perfect? Not at all; far from it. Do I stumble? I try not to, but I do. Which leads me to this point: As believers we are faced with temptations that are not of God. Our response to these temptations is our own with its own consequences to pay – whether the consequence is good or bad. It is my belief that our response to temptation is directly in proportion with how close our relationship is with our Father. How close our relationship is to our Father is in direct proportion to how much time we invest in getting to know Him.
At work, I am found to be on the outside of the team I am on when I do not participate in the foul language, the sexual innuendoes and the getting drunk talk. Out of a 10 hour work day I find myself feeling alone while surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who are watching me speak, interact and display my character but the real question is whose character am I displaying? Mine or God’s? How are they seeing me – a devoted woman of God or a hypocrite when I fall below their unspoken expectations? Herein lies the principle of the confliction of the two natures that resides in all believers. Many examples are shown in the Bible where great men and women of God have battled with this same principle. Paul wrote in Romans 7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand, for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but am doing the very thing I hate.
At this moment, my coworkers in whom I am around 10 hours a day four days a week, are walking in their life as an enemy of God - - as I did for 24 years and 50 weeks of my life. God loves them just as He loved me. God’s will’s for them is that they come to know Him just as it is His will for me to know Him. But what does it really mean to know Him?
Knowing God means experiencing God. And to be able to experience God means that we need to slow our life down enough to read His Words and to gain an understanding of Him. Also, through our adversity in this life we grow in knowledge of Him because we are searching for answers as to why some things happen in life. God gives answers. He gives direction, conviction, wisdom, counsel, spiritual gifts and assurance of faith. To know Him consists of having a better understanding of who God is and a deeper insight to His will for each of our lives.
Even after we come to know our Lord, sometimes decisions are made that are against what He wants for us. He gives us that freedom to choose. I believe it breaks His heart when we go against His instructions. His instructions are not there to hinder you but to save you from pain because He loves you. His instructions are there to make you holy. It is never too late to make right your relationship with Him.
Colossians 1:21-23 (MSG)
You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.
It is my prayer that you get to know Him intimately and passionately and allow Him to revel Himself to you in His wonderful, marvelous, unique ways that He does.
The beauty of the gracious Cross overcomes all the evil in this world. And I pray for you – that through your own trial that you may get to know Him and in knowing Him, you will love Him.
Isaiah 30:18-22 MSG
But God is not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right – everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones. Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find its grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: "This is the right road. Walk down this road." You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good Riddance!”