Here it is. 2021. We finally get to leave one of the worst years in history behind us. This past year was full of incredible sorrow and heartache for so many people. No matter who you are, you’ve now experienced trauma. I don’t know what it is that burdens your heart right now, but I’m going to invite you to bring it to Jesus.
Honestly, if you were to tell me at this time last year that I would be transformed and living for Jesus, I would’ve waited until you walked away and then called you nuts. As I’m sitting here reflecting on this past year, I have a few things I want to share with you. The thing is, I could tell you until I’m blue in the face about how good my God is and how much He loves His creation (you). But until you experience it for yourself, you probably won’t believe me. Unless there are followers of Jesus showing you the love He’s shown us, why would you? Love without action is not love, it’s a transaction.
I used to believe that in order to be loved, I had to give myself away. I used to believe that I had to prove my love for others in physical ways. I used to believe that I had no value unless others told me I did. I lived my life as a chameleon. I was able to be who I thought others wanted me to be, or at least I thought I did. There were very few people who truly knew me for me. There were even fewer who truly loved me. The One who has loved me through it all is the One who taught me that there is nothing I have to do to earn His love.
I used to look at people who loved Jesus and think they were insane. Either because of the countercultural lives they lived or the hypocrisy they bought into (which is a blog post for another time). I grew up going to church but I didn’t go to the Father. All of my life, I’ve let pretty much anyone speak into my life and tell me who I am. Maybe that’s why the beginning of quarantine was so difficult for me, I was just beginning to sit with myself and listen to who God says I am. I just didn’t actually believe it until recently because I didn’t know the extent of His love.
For anyone who might be reading this that knew me before 2020, I’m sure you’ll remember who I was. And she wasn’t great. I spent so much time and energy pouring into the wrong things because I didn’t know what truly mattered. I would stand for nothing and fall for anything because I was not standing on His firm foundation.
// AWAKENED //
This year, like many others, I finally had the time to truly reflect on who I was and who I was becoming. And honestly, I didn’t like her. I had been praying that God would use me as His vessel at the beginning of 2020, but I didn’t really know what it meant to be molded and used by God. I’d like to think we invite God to enter our lives in the same way we wake others up in the morning. This is something I hate doing, so I’ll be super quiet, going back to check in until they eventually get out of bed. That’s kind of how it was for me with God. I felt like I kept going back. I was unsure of how He would react when I finally got His attention. But here’s the thing, God already knew me by my name. It was up to me to truly invite Him into my life. He got my attention by allowing my focus to finally filter out all of the noise. He woke me up by making me still.
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”Isaiah 43:1 ESV
// SURRENDERED //
Alright, fine. I was awake. I got the memo. I needed God. But I still didn’t understand what it meant to actually follow Him. I thought I could still live my life with just my toes in the water. I thought if I could fool everyone else, maybe I could fool God. I was surely fooling myself. I thought in order to really follow Him, I had to be perfect. I didn’t agree with everything the Bible says. God was still so complicated because He was covered by my assumptions. You know how when we meet new people, we can come into it with all these preconceptions. And then somehow, without even trying to get to know this person, we’ve probably come up with a million reasons to disqualify them. I think that’s how it was with God. I thought because He is perfect that I needed to be too when I started following Him. I heard that Jesus covers it all, but I didn’t believe it. I also didn’t really understand the concept of sin. I know it sounds silly, but I tried to categorize sin in my head. Maybe you’ve done it too. Maybe it sounds something like this:
“I’m just having sex outside of marriage, I didn’t kill anyone.”
“It’s just a white lie. It won’t really hurt anyone.”
“It’s a 2 minute video, it’s not like I’m having sex with my significant other.”
“I know the Bible tells me that gossip is wrong, but this is just too good…”
Whatever it may be, I’m sure you get the gist. I don’t know why it finally clicked for me, but I got it when I realized that sin is anything that separates me from fully knowing God’s goodness. Sin is separation from God. Separation from love. I remember the day when I finally prayed that God would destroy with fire whatever it was in my life that was keeping me from truly knowing Him. When we ask for something like this, He’ll deliver on it. He did it in a funny way too, but I didn’t think it was that funny at the time. For me, it was finding validation in guys. If you’re unsure of where to start, all I asked was that God would remove any desires in my heart that were keeping me from fully following Jesus and to replace them with His desires. I don’t know what it is for you, but He’s inviting you to do that, too.
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?Romans 2:4 NIV
// TRANSFORMED //
I’m still in the transformation process. I see my relationship with Jesus like my relationship with anyone else, except that this is the most important one. In any relationship, we enter in, we grow, we fail, and we learn. It’s not a perfect relationship because I’m still here on earth, but each day is a new opportunity to know Him more. That’s the biggest thing about my relationship with God. It’s a choice. In every moment, I get to choose to love God or this world. It’s as simple as that. I fail, but I don’t stay stuck. I’m learning what it means to follow my words with actions. I’m learning to be humble. I’m learning to truly love. I’m learning who God tells me I am and to walk in agreement with His truth over any lie. I think my biggest lesson from 2020 was when everything is uncertain, God’s promises are good and sure. He promises to transform anyone who accepts Jesus into a new creation. Like a new creation, I am learning. There are growing pains, but it’s been worth it. Just like a kid who’s learning to swim, it is so much better to completely jump in than to stand with her toes in the water.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
Remember no matter who you are, you were made in the image of God. He loves you unconditionally. Do you love Him?
Keep picking those daisies!