Monday, January 26, 2015

When Life Changes in a Moment

Tuesday, January 25, 2011. It seemed like a perfectly normal day, but I will forever mark it as the day God revolutionized my life. I stood in chapel at my small, Christian college singing during the worship time. For some reason I sat further back than normal—nearly under the shelter of the upstairs balcony.

As I sang, surrounded by hundreds of my fellow students and yet feeling alone, my mind returned to the questions I had asked so often throughout high school and my first year and a half of college. “Why God? Why is it that I feel like I want a deeper relationship with You and yet nothing changes? Why do You seem so silent? I try so hard.”

There was no rending of the heavens, no vision of glorious majesty. But there was a simple Thought, sent—I believe—by the Holy Spirit at just the moment He had crafted in His infinite plan.

“What you do is not a question of earning My love. You can never earn it. Salvation is a free gift, based on nothing you do, My child. I already love you more than you know – no matter what.”

Hearing that truth and truly realizing what it meant in my life for the first time acted as a single beam of light into what had long been the dark room of my spiritual strivings. Looking back now, I can see that I have always tended toward attempting to earn assurance of others’ love and affection for me by working as a people pleaser. I naturally brought that same idea over to my relationship with God.

Yes, I knew intellectually that I could not earn my salvation. And yet as a Christian I had spent the previous years of my life trying to make myself worthy of God’s love and approval – lacking the faith that the Immanuel who came to save people from sin could truly accept me with all of my shortcomings and failings. In some ways it seems so simple and silly – it is in Scripture…I learned those verses and I should have known that receiving salvation did not suddenly mean that I must curry God’s favor (Gal. 3:1-3). Nevertheless that was how I thought, and it is still a trap I often find myself falling into.

I am still nowhere near the perfection I would love to achieve. But the embedding of that truth deep into my spiritual psyche started me on a journey of personal revival which God is still unfolding. The beauty of it all is that there was nothing special about that day – no reason from my end for the blessings I have since received. It is all Grace – God’s amazing Grace. And that’s the whole point. Yes, it is tempting to question why not sooner. But the answer goes right back to the lesson. God’s Grace is not bound by human understanding. No, I didn’t deserve what happened on January 25th any more than I had any other day. But that is the beauty of Grace.

{This was originally posted in September of 2012 on Thrive80, a Moody blog that I wrote for occasionally. It was part of a series about "Inciting Incidents"--moments which shape one's life and story--to promote a new book for them, and so this is the moment I wrote about.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the day this story is about, so I wanted to put a link on my Facebook page. But when I went back looking for this post, I discovered that the old blog, including my posts, is no longer online. So I re-post here what I wrote for them there, unedited.

Even four years after that day and almost two and a half years after writing this post, I am still learning Grace. And God has proved good and faithful and abundantly gracious during every step of that journey.}