Hello dear readers!
From time to time, I want to share with you some real-life examples of what it looks like for every-day women and men to walk in freedom…. People just like you and me who have been set free from the daily bondage that is inevitable when we go through life without relationship with our Creator, Jesus Christ. This can be a deceiving condition that many do not recognize until they are on the other side of it. But the beautiful thing is, we do have a choice! Through intentional prayer and allowing committed Christians you trust and care about to come along side you and model discipleship for you, you too can come to know the freedom found in Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8 NLT guides us to understand what happens when trust in and relationship with Jesus becomes our own, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
When we invite God into our lives, releasing control to Him to transform and renew us, life is never the same! Life is not perfect, or without challenges as is described in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” There is no safer place than falling into the arms of your Savior!
Much is revealed in Scripture about the place of trials and tribulations in our lives, but as the beautiful words found in Romans 8:18 explain, trials are not the end; devastation and death will not have the final word! “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
The first freedom testimony I want to share with you here is written by my new friend, Jen Weaver. You can visit Jen on her blog, learn more about her, and also read her testimony originally written on her site here:
To give you the whole back-story, I need to start at the beginning… Or at least my beginning, some almost 30 (eek!) years ago.
The oldest child in a devout Christian family, I have attended church since birth. Dedicated as an infant, memorizing bible verses as a toddler, attending Awana’s and the whole nine yards. At the young age of five it made sense to have Jesus in my heart since He so badly wanted to be there and forgave me of my sins. I have continued in the church my entire life, yet from the time of receiving Salvation there was a notable holding pattern in my walk with Christ for many years. Well… holding pattern is an understatement…
Philippians 2:12 speaks to working out your salvation with fear and trembling, yet for too long I had an incorrect understanding of what this meant. So much time was wasted on the fear and trembling. Fear of what people would think if I showed fault or weakness. Trying so hard to say only the right things, to have all the answers and to be a “good Christian”. It was horrible and terribly hard. Hard to suppress the feeling within you to respond for prayer because this would mean others may see you. So difficult, working to appear clean and upstanding on the outside when you are hurt, lost and broken on the inside.
As with most things, practice leads towards perfection. And man, did I practice religion. Pulling up to the church service Sunday morning our family vehicle could be filled with yelling and tense emotions, yet the moment you slid open that door, happy faces were turned-on for the full duration of the service.
Prayers were memorized recitals of pretty words. Bible verses might as well have been badges on a scout vest as they were achieved with the same competition and boasted about as if they were trophies. Forget “working out” my salvation, I was working on my salvation. How can I make this look better? Well a good Christian wouldn’t do those things or say those words. A good Christian wouldn’t hang out with those people, or wear those clothes, drink that, or watch this. And wouldn’t you know it, spending all this time working on my salvation, trying to build it up and make everything pretty, gave me an odd distaste for those who weren’t doing the same thing. I was working so hard, why weren’t they even trying? Didn’t they know that what they were doing was sin? Obviously not, otherwise they wouldn’t have let me see it.
Yet for all my work, it left me tired and unfulfilled. Condemned. Insecure. Doubting. Every once and awhile I would respond to the call for salvation again, just to make sure I was still “saved”. And one of the saddest parts, I attended Church every week, surrounded by Christians all the time and never said anything because I was supposed to have it all together! I worked so hard on my pretty facade that I couldn’t just admit that it was a sham. That I was working so hard to be a Christian because that’s what you’re supposed to do, and I was left with nothing, nothing but hard work and religion.
Praise the holy name of Jesus, He rescued me! I will never forget the first time I heard that I could have a relationship with God. It was a Sunday morning in the seventh grade and it just about blew my mind. I was intended to have more with God. Things weren’t supposed to be empty and lonely. This new awareness started me on the path that I am still walking today as I draw nearer to Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t all daisy’s and butterflies. There are times when I struggle to hear His voice above the distractions around me, and sometimes I don’t like what he instructs me to do. Yet there is freedom here. Jesus was telling the truth when he said his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). He doesn’t pile on more tasks and chores like a religious tradition, instead, he removes burdens of guilt and shame and replaces them with peace and joy. This is no longer something I have to do, but something I get to do. I get to obey to show my love for Him. I get to hear His voice and have Him mold me more and more into who He has created me to be. I get to love His children and extend grace and mercy to them in the same way Christ has done for me.
These moments with Christ define me. He shares revelation about His character and His nature. He exposes my sin and enables me to walk in greater freedom. He molds and changes me more into His image. Years of my religious experience were wasted in stagnation, never moving never changing. Yet moment by moment He is moving me now. Moving me closer and closer to Him. And I’m excited to share my journey with you.
Thanks for reading, dear ones! Stay tuned for more testimonies of freedom found in relationship with our Savior!
Thanks for sharing my testimony on your site Sybil! I hope others are encouraged by the message of God’s grace in my life!! 🙂
Is it such a beautiful testimony of God’s grace! Thanks for allowing me to share it, Jen!
Wow…This is an encouragement to me personally. I rejoice with you, Jen, that you found true relationship with God!
Deborah, thanks so much for your comment! It blessed me and I’m sure Jen as well, to read : )
So what or how would you suggest a better way for young children to be brought up in church ( as you suggest AWANA and memorizing bible versus is not the best idea)?
Thanks for your thoughts