Once I finally acknowledged my death, I figured out the purpose for my life.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
My story is an average story for someone born in the Bible belt. I was born into a Christian home and do not ever remember a time that I did not know who Jesus was and that he died on the cross for my sins. I had accepted His free gift of salvation, but somewhere along the line, I did not understand that Jesus was to be the Lord of my life. I did not embrace Galatians 2:20. In fact, I am not sure I ever read it until years later. Christ did live in me but I did not realize that any good that I ever did was because of him and not me. My life was filled with lots of “I did this” and “I did that” with no recognition that I could do nothing without Him. I can only imagine how I grieved the heart of God. I was so blinded by the world. I prided myself on my self-sufficiency.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
I can do it all myself.
I was constantly striving. I worked hard. I bought into Satan’s lies that “I deserved this or that.” I would work until I did not know what to do and then I would pray. I would pray “God I do not know what to do. I need your help. I cannot do this without you. Please guide me and help me.” I am embarrassed to admit how many times I prayed this prayer and He was always faithful and always helped me. How did I respond? I would give a quick look up and say, “Thank you so much, God.” I would receive praise on a job well done and not one time did I ever give God the glory. I cannot help but cry as I type these words. God was faithful time and time again and I just took all the Glory for myself time and time again. It was not until my late thirties that I picked up the Bible and began to read it for myself. I am not sure how you read through the New Testament without a keen awareness that we were put on this Earth to live for Christ.
My understanding was “I was saved and would go to Heaven, but Jesus was my afterlife not the here and now.” I failed to understand that the day I accepted Jesus as my Savior that I was crucified. I no longer had to be a slave to sin because my flesh was crucified. Jesus was not only my Savior but He was my Lord. I was bought with a price and I owe Jesus everything; he saved me. I sometimes have to stop, pause, and really think about the fact that Jesus saved me. Do you fully comprehend that He wants to save all of us but first we have to recognize we need to be saved? I had not been living my life as if I needed a Savior and I certainly had not been living it in a way that Jesus was my Lord. I remember hearing about the Good News of Jesus but it finally meant something to me. I finally understood that Jesus is the Truth, the Life and the only Way. I finally understood that I was not worthy. I was a sinner and I needed Jesus. I was incapable of living a righteous life without Jesus.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
I look back on my old self and I am so very thankful that God loved me and pursued me. He was not satisfied for the life I had happily settled for and He knew what my heart desired before I did. He knew all along and he did not stop. He brought me to my knees and I will forever be grateful. I have always been successful by the worlds standards. I graduated Valedictorian of my high school (forget the fact that I graduated in a class of 43, so not sure I had much to be proud of, but I was). I graduated college and passed my CPA exam (again not sure why I was so proud to be an Accountant but I was). I had two kids before I was 30 (again not sure why I was proud but I planned to have two kids before I was 30 so, yes, this was also something else I was very proud to have accomplished).
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14 (NIV)
I look back and I am so grateful that I always heard the Holy Spirit even if I thought it was me. I tended to yield to the Holy Spirit and most of the time He guided me. It just would have been so much more rewarding if I would have given God the glory. The unawareness that I was yielding to the Holy Spirit lead to a lot of pride. Satan lies to us every day that we deserve the “best” and the “best” is material things, recognition, praise, accolades, etc. It is all a lie. Sheila, the prideful, self-sufficient, I do not need anyone because I am an I-can-do-it-all-myself type person, finds the most peaceful rest when I surrender to the will of God. I find pure joy in doing His work. I do not want nor do I need anything but Him. I have moments and sometimes-entire days, and truth-be-told entire weeks where I fall back into Satan’s trap. Nevertheless, I look up and I pray for God to change me. I pray for Him to work in my life and do what is necessary for Him to change me. There are times that I have prayed to just take my free will away. My flesh is prone to wander and I do not want to wander. Whenever I get my feelings hurt or I am upset, I have to remind myself that I am dead. I have been crucified with Christ and now it is only Christ who lives in me. I have to remind myself that I can be victorious over sin because I have the power of Christ living inside me. I pray that everyone on Earth will yield his or her rebellious spirit to the One True King. Living for God is the only life worth living.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalms 16:11 (NIV)
Dear Heavenly Father, I am so very grateful that you pursue each of us. It is humbling to know that the God of the Universe wants an intimate relationship with each one of us. I am weak and I need your strength every day to keep my focus on you. You are the Living Water and I thirst for you. Sometimes I take my eyes off of you and start to listen to Satan’s lies. Please protect my mind and my heart from the lies. I need you. I want you and I love you. I do not ever want to go back and live my previous life. I do not want to ever live without a keen awareness of your presence. In Jesus name, Amen.