“If you want to maintain your freedom, do your own homework.” One of my favorite political radio hosts said those words this morning, and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head.
A couple of days ago I had the absolute privilege of standing in front of a group of gorgeous God-fearing women and telling them what God has done in my life. As I thought back over some of the key events in my life in preparation for what I wanted to say, a theme started materializing. It began with my salvation experience which was presented as mere “fire insurance.” In my young mind I perceived undertones of obligation by God to make good on John 3:16 rather than His actual love for me which compelled Him to offer such grace. I lived believing that though salvation was mine for the taking I would still spend my life paying for what He’d done for me.
As a teenager I went on a missions trip to France. Though I genuinely wanted to share God’s love with others, in the back of my mind I was hoping it would endear me to Him somehow. After all, I was spending an entire summer sleeping in a tent and wearing jeans and combat boots, a far cry from my usual attire of bows, dresses and cute flat shoes! Instead, the team disunity, physical hardship, issues with leaders and extreme homesickness left me disillusioned with Christianity and the idea of serving Him.
Most of my college years were spent at Moody Bible Institute where I was fortunate to immerse myself in Bible classes and writing. However, with the stress of extenuating circumstances, I began down a dark hole of binging and purging in order to diffuse the frustration. I was convinced His disappointment in me was teetering on the brink of no return.
As an adult, I felt called to marry a youth pastor which I did. My husband is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but youth ministry was his gig, not mine. Realizing that left me feeling like a complete failure, again. What a disappointment I must have been to the God of creation. He’d given me a chance to redeem myself, to finally get it together and be a serious Christian, and I was blowing it. Another black check on the tally sheet.
As a young writer, I had a few successes with the publication of the articles and a children’s book, but it didn’t last. Now I was becoming angry with God. What did He want from me? Why did He continually dangle the carrot in front of me only to snatch it away once I got within reach?
Then my husband and I bought into the idea of the American dream, which you are all too aware of if you’ve read any of this blog. I wrote the following poem one morning to the Lord having no idea the flurry of activity it would release from Him.
I know what I’m asking.
It scares me to death,
But scarier still
Is a life that is left
Lukewarm at best,
Loving God one day,
Not caring the next.
So take me and mold me
As a potter with clay,
Shaping me, forming me
In Your unique way.
The pain and the time
It takes to change me
Remade in Your image
A sweet offering
I pray will bring
Nothing but glory to You
Redemption in action
Your work showing through.
Then a daughter of Jesus
I’ll stand on display
As proof of the Potter’s
Love for the clay.
Within weeks I found myself on my knees in my dining room begging God for help with my debt. At the time I didn’t realize that not only would He begin the process of unhinging us from our debt, but He would also start the longer, more involved process of releasing me from the captivity of what I believed about Him. Essentially, I had spent my whole life in judgment of God, and my sources for that judgment would never hold up in a real court of law.
I could blame the church that offered salvation as nothing more than a means to avoid hell. I could blame the Pharisaical Christians who had walked in and out of my life over the years. I could blame the American culture and it’s marketing of the American dream to any who will listen. But the blame was mine. I hadn’t done my own homework. I had no hard evidence to back up the verdict of who I thought God was. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. In looking over my life He has more than rescued me from situations that I have chosen, and yet I dismissed all of it as if it were merely hearsay.
Which brings me back to the quote at the beginning. If we want to maintain our spiritual freedom, that is to live without the noose of Satan’s lies tied around our necks, it is our responsibility to get to know the Person we claim to live for.
History has shown over and over how the ability of a charismatic speaker and a few well-placed lies can lead an entire culture of people into political and spiritual ruin. Here’s the bottom line in a nutshell:
1). God is under no obligation to prove anything to any of us, and yet the first breath of every new day is just the beginning of Him spending that entire day proving Himself to us.
2). I had to ask myself if I had spent most of my life basing my judgment of God on the actions and words of others as well as my own unreliable feelings, what judgments are other people making of Him based on what they see in me?
3). John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIV).
John 8:31,32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'” (NIV).