Good Enough

on kneesDid you ever feel that you weren’t good enough? Or didn’t try hard enough?  I used to live in this false perception of wrong thinking. What I mean by that is, I was raised in a main line denominational church.  I was taught that if I was “good enough,” when I died I would go to heaven.

I was taught that there were levels of sin and I would justify sin by looking at others around me and thinking, we’ll at least my sin is not as bad as their sin. This led to a cycle of comparison and judgement which I would try to make myself feel better about myself at the expense of others.

I believed that if I kept the ten commandments and tried to be good, God would eventually accept me into heaven on my own merit because I wasn’t all that bad (in comparison to others that is). I was not taught to read the Bible, and when there are no absolutes, we are subject to anything.

By this point in my life I had already broken all of the commandments. When I once told this to someone, they replied, “You killed someone?” I replied, “No I of course not, but I had definitely murdered people with my thoughts and words.”

When I was nineteen someone shared with me the truth of the gospel, that I didn’t have to be good enough. They showed me in scripture where it said in Romans 3:10, that no one is righteous, meaning no one was good enough.

I was also pointed to James 2:10 where it said, whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.  This clearly stated to me that all sin was the same, and that we are all guilty.

I prayed the sinners prayer to ask Christ into my heart. Believing that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for my sin, I now knew my sins would be forgiven and I would now go to heaven based on what Jesus did for me on Calvary.

At this point in my walk with God my focus took a shift and I started seeing myself as “not good enough.” I now believed that if I died, I would still go to heaven, but I was living in fear being controlled by thoughts and emotions.

I started trying to keep the law by being good enough and in doing so, I was just condemning myself because I never could be good enough. I still lived with the guilt and shame from the sins from my past because I hadn’t really dealt with them. Therefore, I wasn’t truly believing that what Christ had done for me on the cross was enough.

This thought process even kept me from being truthful to those closest to me because I thought if they knew the truth about me, they would not love me or accept me. I didn’t really understand that my true self-worth had to come from Jesus alone. Fear has a way of crippling us and keeping us paralyzed. I learned a lot of information about the bible, but the things I knew were in my head, and hadn’t truly affected my heart.

All this changed when I was having an emotional crisis in my life.  I cried out to God to do whatever it took to make me right with him, and he met me in a way that was real and personal and filled me with his life-giving spirit.

One thing I see clearly from scripture is that when people have personal encounter with the God of the Bible they leave changed. It was the same in my experience with God. He began revealing His true self to me through the scripture and experiences I was having, and God began to transform my heart. God’s word was now alive and he was giving me a new depth of understanding to who he was and it began to transform my thinking as well (Romans 12:2).

I now know that I am a beloved child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (John 1:12).  I know that nothing that I did in the past or can do will ever keep the Love of Christ from Me (Romans 8:39). I know I am fully known by my Creator (1 Cor. 13:12) and that he loves me in spite of me.

I know that I am only saved by Grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8) and that salvation is a gift that I cannot be earned by my own merit. I now have faith and the completed work of Christ.  When he died he stated, “it is finished” (John 19:30) and I now believe that he put to death my sin, once and for all and removed my stain, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

When Christ arose from the grave, he ascended to heaven to be with the Father.  Therefore we now can receive his promised helper, The Holy Spirit, which comes to live in us and abide in our hearts as our constant helper and companion (John 14:26). He gives us the strength and the power to do God’s will.

And in showering me with His love and His grace, I am able to shower that same love and grace towards others and as I seek to walk in obedience to the one and only commandment that sums up all of God’s laws and that is, to love Him first and foremost and then to love others with His love (Luke 10:27).

I am so thankful for God’s amazing grace and that he pursues us with his relentless love that draws us unto himself (John 6:44).  I’m so thankful for the wonderful Gift of his beloved son, Jesus, that came to earth to pay the price for my sin, so that I didn’t have to. I’m also thankful that I never have to be good enough, try harder, or be enough because my God is more than enough.

Praise the Lord, my soul;

all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, my soul,

and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

Seasons of Change

fallThere is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, A time to kill and a time to heal, time to tear down and a time to build,  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiasties 3:1-8

Just yesterday I was driving back from town and appreciating all the fall colored leaves displayed along the roadside. I usually head into the season of fall with both my feet down, kind of like a stubborn disobedient child. Now don’t get me wrong, there are things I like about fall and the other seasons as well, but by far summertime is definitely my favorite of season all.

I love everything about summer.  I love the warmth of the air, the long daylight hours, playing on the beach and at the river.  I also love summer vacations and having my children off school and being able go and do things and just hang out and enjoy the constant company of my loved ones.

Thinking about the changing of the seasons I am reminded that there are always similar seasons we go through in our walk with God.  There are mountain top experiences which feel like summer and send us to the heights of joy. These are times of smooth sailing, where the sun is shining and the wind is refreshing. These are reflective of times we feel God’s blessing and are joyous and fruitful.

But as I’ve learned, we cannot continually thrive when in these fruitful seasons. Just as a fruit tree produces fruit in the summertime, soon its fruit is gone and it’s leaves begin to change color and fall.  There will be a time of dormancy until the spring when new shoots of life will appear and what seemed like death will break forth and turn into blossoms of hope.

God uses each season in our journey for His glory.  When the leaves are falling and the nights are long and the rains of winter come, one thing we can be sure of is God’s faithfulness in every season.  He uses the seasons to refine us and changes. During the times of dormancy when we feel God is no longer near, he uses these quiet times to make us long for him. If it wasn’t for times of sickness, we would not appreciate good health. The same for loss and life, failure and success, brokenness and restoration, doubt and certainty.

And as I may be currently be dragging my feet heading into fall, I am asking God to renew my mind and help me to find the joy in every season because I know the times of change are ordained by Him (Genesis 1:14) and that when we learn to recognize and adapt ourselves to these ever-changing seasons, that we will learn to find joy and peace even in the dead of winter and during the heaviest of storms.

God who loves us and desires the best for us, is never content to leaves us as we are. He is using all things and all seasons to draw us closer to himself and to change us from the inside out so that we may better bear the fruit of His glorious image. Thank You Lord Jesus for Your Goodness to us! To you be the Glory, both now and forever!

And God said, “Let there be lights, in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times,and days and years Genesis 1:14

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons . . . Daniel 2:20-21

He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. Psalm 104:19

Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy. Acts 14:17

Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord. Jeremiah 8:7