I came to slowly know Christ just over a decade ago. He came to me in the darkest period in my marriage and let me know that despite having failed in every way imaginable, that I was still loved. He humbled me and brought me into his fold where I have safely and confidently resided ever since. Since my marriage to Christ, we've been in a sweet honeymoon period- for literally a decade. Jesus saved me from myself and let me know I was loved without fail when I was absolutely unlovable. He changed my heart, my mind, my priorities, my perspective, my marriage, my parenting- literally almost every ounce of me has been made new in Christ (except my potty-mouth, but he's still working).
I have passionately loved him for it and pursued him with fervor- most of the time. Some of the time, I have not. Some of the time, I am overly confident that I can handle things on my own. Some of the time, I feel like everything is going fine, and I don't need him quite as much. Some of the time, I forget just how sinful I truly am.
One of the problems with running insanely HOT for Jesus- or being "on fire" for him- is that it's very easy to allow the pendulum to swing the other way and run cold. Being "on fire" for Jesus typically means I FEEL passionately for him and that I love the FEELING of worshipping him- that I am being led by my emotions rather than by an abiding, lasting, genuine, unfailing LOVE of HIM. Not for what he's doing for me in my life right now or what he might do for me tomorrow, but instead for HIM- his character, his faithfulness, his sacrifice, his overwhelming goodness.
Obviously, there's nothing wrong with pursuing our Savior fiercely- it's what we do when we realize just what he's done for us. The problem is this:
In living in this "on fire" season for Christ for a prolonged period, I had never truly developed an abiding relationship with him that became my FULL foundation... no matter what happened. I had never developed a "come what may", CONSISTENT, faithful trust in him.
This hot and cold, "on fire" cycle with Jesus continued on... Until my mom died.
When my mom was killed suddenly in a car accident October 29, 2017, I'm pretty sure the world stopped spinning for just a moment. And we all encounter those moments- those unfathomable tragedies and heartbreaks that hit us like a bus headed straight out of hell- whether it be a death, a diagnosis, an affair, a significant financial downturn.
And along with such heartbreaking devastation comes the questions about the One who holds our freshly broken hearts... How could it be? WHY, for Pete's sake? Why THIS, why NOW, why like this? Our enemy loves heartbreak and devastation- it's like fertilizer for every tiny seed that he had already begun to sow into our minds. Every doubt, every question that may have lingered unresolved, begins to grow full, deep roots and cultivates a whole harvest of heartache.
This is a turning point for every person of faith. When you come to THIS moment, what do you do? This is the moment the FIRE for Jesus dies. This is the moment that you don't feel "rewarded" for following hard after him. This is the moment that we learn whether our FAITH is true or if it was just imagined. And in this moment, you have two choices: Walk away or Abide.
I'm thankful to God beyond words for the magnificent grace that he has displayed to me during this season. He has never left me. He has never forsaken me. He has pursued me at every turn. He has protected me.
Every tear that has fallen and every prayer that has been uttered for YEARS found itself manifest during this season. Because I asked (Matthew 7:7), he has given me eyes to SEE and ears to HEAR (Matthew 11:15) how unshakeable and steady his love and pursuit of ME truly are.
Because he pursues my heart so unfailingly, how could I not also pursue his with that same unrelentingness? With the same faithful diligence?
So everything about my faith has changed. I'm no longer feverishly running around, like a wind-whipped wave (James 1:6)- hot for Jesus one minute and cold for him the next. Much like in a marriage, after the honeymoon has ended, I've had to make a choice. I could have left when the hard parts got just too hard and the shiny was gone. Or I could stay and develop my passion for experiencing the presence of Christ INTO a deep, abiding, unwavering love of HIM.
And so that's what I'm doing, by his mercy and overwhelming grace. Grace upon grace, my over-the-moon love for Jesus is settling down into the dirt of this earth. It's growing strong roots- and it's hard. Heart-breaking hard. But like the pain I've felt in my marriage that I thought would break me, this too has been the best, hardest thing I could imagine. I'd give anything to get my Mama back, just for one day- but I'm so thankful for the work God is doing in me when it has all been beyond my strength to handle.
With a growing, abiding, and self-disciplined love of God, I am encountering his Word differently. I am approaching it with a new perspective. Not with a "magic 8-ball" mentality of "what does the Bible have to say about ME and this situation I am in." I instead am looking to God's word for what it tells me about GOD. (Check out this book. LIFE-CHANGING.)
With a growing, abiding, and self-disciplined love of God, I am approaching my days differently. When the going gets tough, I am turning immediately to him. I press pause, bury my face in the carpet of my prayer room, and cry out to him in worship and praise for all that he's done- KNOWING, believing, and trusting that he will attentively respond.
With a growing, abiding, and self-disciplined love of God, I am consciously choosing him, over and over again. I am seeking to constantly deny myself and seek his face first. I am consciously pursuing a relationship with him above all things.
With a growing, abiding, and self-disciplined love of God- I am believing he is who he says he is, and he will do what he says he will do. Without fail. Without question. I am TRUSTING him because I have experienced how unrelentingly good and present he is.
Just like with our marriage- every day there is a decision to draw near. Every day there is a decision to choose HIM or choose me. There's always a choice, and what we CHOOSE is the self-disciplined, abiding WORK of our faith (and thusly of our marriages).
I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me. Psalm 119:30 (emphasis mine)
It probably took longer than it should have to approach my relationship with God with maturity and self-discipline. I'm a little hard-headed, hard-hearted, and flighty. It usually takes a full breakdown of my world, and thusly myself, to bring me to a new place. I HATE that it took this, but since this was his choice, I'm so thankful for his faithfulness.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (emphasis mine)
And because I now know FULLY that I can trust him to be who he says he is and to never, ever fail me, I can walk with full freedom into his presence and experience complete fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). I am so thankful that he is a living, breathing God that never stops redeeming, restoring, and fulfilling his promises.
...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6