Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Jesus-girl without Jesus.

About a month ago, I was reading a beautifully written post from a fellow blogger in which she made this statement: I was a Jesus-girl without Jesus. That simple sentence--along with her whole salvation story--pretty much ran over and flattened me in a spiritual-steamroller-kind of way. The reason why her words are so pungent to my soul is because I, too, have been a Jesus-girl without Jesus.

You see, I was raised in a Bible-belt church, prayed “the sinner’s prayer” and was baptized as a teenager, and did basically everything else that the world expected of a lifelong, Southern Baptist to do. Despite all of that, Jesus was nothing more than a literary figure from the Bible who I knew was supposed to be important to me, but in reality never was. I had simply made the proverbial decision to secure my spot in heaven, yet no transformation internally ever took place. I was an over-churched, cultural “Christian” who thought she needed a lot of things, but salvation was certainly not one of them. 

Though it might have appeared to some that I had it all together on the outside, there were dark and destructive sins winning the war on the inside. The functional god in my life wasn’t actually God Himself, but a deep-seated need for people’s approval. When people were pleased with me--especially those in my Christian circles--I was happy and God was good. But when I was ignored, forgotten, or dismissed, seasons of deep depression and rebellion would settle in.

This internal conflict grew stronger and my spiritual life became emptier after getting married and starting a family. It only took a matter of weeks after my wedding to see that Mr. Right wouldn’t be able to permanently fill those internal holes and provide those emotional fixes like I had unknowingly expected. Anger, bitterness, disappointment, and regret took residence in my heart early on and began corrupting my marriage. I became a self-righteous, nagging wife who consistently & hurtfully pointed her finger at all of her husband’s issues, yet avoided honesty about her own. After five strifeful years, we were separated, and I continued to believe that I was an innocent victim in our situation.

Four months later, while scouring scripture for biblical grounds for divorce, something supernatural happened. It was as if thick scales fell from my eyes, and I felt God impress upon me these words, “It’s not him. The problem is You.” The moments that followed seemed like a gigantic tidal wave of awareness and conviction. God opened my eyes wide to see that for as long as I had been pointing fingers at my husband’s addictions and sin, I unknowingly had addiction and sin of my own. He clearly showed me how much I idolized people’s approval and how this issue had been ruling me from as far back as I could remember. This explained why I had made destructive choices as a college student; why as a single adult I was often battling depression; and then why as a wife and mother I was chronically disappointed and unsatisfied. For the first time in my life, I was awakened to the true condition of my own heart.

After that day, things began to change in my life swiftly. My marriage was reconciled and a journey of true healing was set in motion. I stopped looking at my husband to fulfill me and began aiming those deep affections of my soul at Jesus. I had been given a new freedom of sorts to truly love and serve my husband, instead of fixing him. The Bible became alive to me and an insatiable thirst to learn more about it began. The gospel story itself was all of sudden beautiful, glorious, and transforming, no longer boring. What God later revealed to me through His Word was that I had truly been born again. He had removed my heart of stone and replaced it with a new heart of flesh. And with that new heart had come new eyes to finally see His beauty, His glory, and His all-sufficiency. 

Baptism, May 2012
Because of this miracle of new birth, I can now say without hesitation that Jesus is the all-satisfying treasure of my heart. I’m living a new life, no longer a captive of the world and its empty promises, but as a willing slave of the Lord Jesus. All the many years before were spent clinging to self-righteousness and approval, never letting go long enough to actually grab hold of the gospel. Little did I know then that the Hero of the Gospel would Himself choose to grab hold of this tired, bored, selfish “Christian” and make everything NEW.

If your Jesus can bless you but can't command you,  
may the real Jesus smash his way into your life.
~Ray Ortlund

Gratefully alive-