This post is a bit old, but still completely relevant. So much more has happened in my life that I can see how valuable these lessons of trust and peace in God have now become a life saver to me – but I’m not ready to write about those things yet, it’s still very fresh and painful. Soon.
What’s happened in my heart the past two years has been so precious that it’s defied words. I desperately want to share my experience in a way that represents the truth honestly, but I don’t even know where to start or how to capture the breadth of this in a post. I make it sound epic, but what it’s been like is more profound.
My experience started (probably around Jan two years ago) with a realisation that my life had been missing – for so long – the reality of Jesus. When I say reality, I mean like actually experiencing God moving, physically, emotionally, supernaturally. This wasn’t always the case, but certainly the last ten years. I was a ‘christian’ by name, and desire, but I didn’t even know the freedom that meant for me. I had walked away from the mirror and forgotten what I looked like.
But Jesus, gentle and loving, has been with me the entire time whether I knew it or not.
The catalyst that sent me into a desperate pursuit of my faith was due to an unpleasant set of circumstances/people that I wanted changed! I thought, if these people were just out of my life then everything would be better – and that’s where my prayer started. I was anxious, sad and tired. I felt suffocated by such a weight over my life and it was paralysing. Driving home from work I would feel a heaviness in my chest, my heart would pound faster and in all of it was a feeling of powerlessness. I could try in my own way to make things different, but that was scary and confronting or I could pray and trust God. But…trust, real trust when the sh*t hits the fan, that I soon discovered was not at all developed in my character.
I grew up hearing of God’s love, and mighty power.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
But try telling someone ‘not to be anxious’ when their whole body is involuntarily seizing up with fear. Impossible.
“Nothing is impossible to them that believe” (Mark 9:23).
I knew the scriptures, and I began to pray and read the word daily – hoping trust would come despite how I was feeling. But something had to change. I was in a bad way mentally. My prayers were all over the place.
God wasn’t put off by my confused sobs, wails and requests. Soon I was confronted with a truth I couldn’t actually ignore when a friend made the point (somewhat hesitantly), “You know, I think it’s you who needs to change, not them (the problem).”
When the real answers came it felt like something had to physically leave my body, like I had to push out the thing that was screaming “NO, NOT THAT!”
I prayed that God would show me what it meant to be righteous (in right standing with God – connected with him)…he started to teach me.
You have value. You were created in the image of God.
Grace doesn’t make sense. We say the word so often in church that many people think they understand the concept – but live lives that don’t reflect his Grace working in them.
When someone has hurt you – again. We want them to know we’re hurt, we want them to stop. If they know how hurt we are and express guilt and shame it makes us feel better, our sense of being a victim is justified by their guilt. It doesn’t make sense to us in those instances to extend complete and unconditional forgiveness. Forgiveness that doesn’t say – never do this again or you are dead to me. Forgiveness instead says, I’m okay, it’s you I care about, that’s scary – we make ourselves vulnerable. People think, ‘but if they don’t see how hurt I am, and if I forgive them with no strings…it gives them a license to keep hurting me’.
This is where grace flourishes in all its power from the creator of heaven and earth.
Grace is not weak. It is actually God’s power to transform and renew. Jesus has forgiven us. He has extended an unconditional mercy towards us – we didn’t deserve it. Jesus did nothing wrong, and yet he has sacrificed himself for us. That grace – when we grasp it fully and realise who we now are – has the actual power of Jesus to change our hearts and minds to be capable of things we weren’t before, like love.
Likewise – when given this incredible light of God, we cover it up when we don’t allow his grace to work out of us and towards those around us. Dress yourself in righteousness (that is Christ himself, become like Jesus – don’t do, just be). Choose to forgive and extend grace towards the person who is sinning against you and choose to bless them. Then trust that God will actually do something noticeable in your thinking, no longer impacted by what people do and say around you, but only operate from the space of knowing Jesus lives in you.
Now I know I’m on a journey of understanding more deeply how God moves. And the peace that has come from that has completely changed my world around – anxiety and all its manifestations disappeared, I can recognise when it threatens again and take immediate action. And if I don’t…he’s still there with me.