Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mercy for our Mistakes

I'm not really sure what to do with this blog now.  You see, I started blogging years ago, and in that span of time, I've changed quite a bit.  The truth is, we are always growing, always changing, always learning.  This blog certainly has cataloged much of that growth and many of those changes.

I'm not the woman I was when I first purchased this domain.  In fact, I was a pretty new believer back then. Though I had grown up reading the bible, I didn't fall in love with Jesus— didn't start walking with Him— until my mid-twenties. As with any relationship, we have had our highs and lows. We have walked through some dark valleys, climbed some steep mountains, stood at the top of some amazing peaks and marveled at the view.  And, just like marriage, it's been a journey of getting to know Him.

Many of the things I posted years ago were likely with the wrong heart.  I have spent much of my life battling a legalistic mindset. And I can definitely say I have often turned a relationship with Christ into a list of do's and don'ts.  I'm sure that is reflected in some (many?) of the posts here on this blog.

We celebrated Christmas, then shunned every bit of sparkly tinsel and holiday trinket only to make a Christmas-comeback with presents tucked under the tree and advent devotionals read each evening.  I've had seasons where I tried head covering and tucked my jeans away in storage.  And I've worried about whether I'm doing it all right or screwing it all up and if I'm going to get to Heaven and God's going to shake his holy finger at me and say, "I'll let you in, but, dude, you just barely made it."

But something happened a couple years ago.
I decided to lay down the worrying.
I decided I would stop focusing on the what and focus on the who.
Because all the rest will just fall into place when my eyes are on the Prize.

Because the Lord reminded me that there will be people who say, "Did we not prophesy in Your name? Drive out demons in Your name? Perform many miracles in Your name?"  And yet, Jesus will answer, "I don't know you."

And this is always the struggle as a believer.  I believe most of us have been there at one point (or one thousand points) in our lives.  We get so focused on the doing, on producing fruit, and we forget that the Lord's desire is for us to be wrapped in a deep relationship with Him.  That comes first. The fruit is a by-product of abiding in Christ.

There have been many, many times when I've put works first, and not love.  When I've lived trying to be good enough and earn His favor rather than abiding in His love and letting His work flow from me.  Cart before the horse, Mandy. Cart before the horse.

There are quite a few times in scripture when God states, "I desire obedience over sacrifice," and that used to baffle me.  I would think, "Wait? Didn't He command those offerings? Aren't they obeying by bringing these specific offerings He commanded they bring?" 

Christ says that whole of the Law and the Prophets is summed up in these two commandments, to love God with all of your everything and to love your neighbor as yourself.

God was calling the people to not simply go through the motions, not just bring the offerings and tithes, but to engage in a love relationship with Him.  I can tell you that when you are living from a place of love it changes everything.

If you've been around my blog for a while, or if you know me personally, it's no secret that my husband and I nearly divorced in the first three years of our marriage. I may have cleaned the house and made dinner, but it wasn't out of a place of love, and I think the atmosphere of our home reflected that. A tidy home and a plate full of food can't cover up a twisted heart attitude.  I can tell you that the writer of Proverbs 15:27 knew what he was talking about when he wrote, "A vegetarian meal served with love is better than a big, thick steak with a plateful of animosity [ISV]."  Truly, love has a way of making a meal or a moment much sweeter.  Maybe that's why the Apostle Paul commanded the Corinthians to do everything in love (1 Corinthians 16:14).

In the beginning of my marriage, I did things for my husband because I wanted something from him. Maybe I wanted to feel good about myself  ("See what I did for you!").  Maybe I didn't want to feel guilty about something else ("I made you this meal, please don't comment about how much I went over the grocery budget!").  Maybe I wanted him to do something for me.  But typically, even though I often didn't realize my own intentions, I did things out of love.... for myself.

Honestly, that's how the first 20-something years of my life went.  I didn't even know God. I just tried to the things I thought He wanted me to so I wouldn't go to hell.  I missed the point. I missed Him.  And then Jesus captivated me, and I began a relationship with Him.... but at times I have veered off the path of loving Him.  I've done things because "He told me to," or because I thought they were good, and at times I've abandoned everything just to do what I want to do.  But He is so faithful to call me back to Himself. To abiding.  To true obedience.

And true obedience isn't doing, but loving.  There is a difference.  Loving involves doing, but doing does not always come from loving. The actions can both look the same outwardly, but the heart can be totally different.

Wow, this post is becoming a bit lengthy, isn't it?

My point in this all is.... this blog records much of my journey.  Some of it has a lot of the doing and the "good looks" and the trying and striving that isn't actually stemming from love.  And some of it is passion-induced, deep-Jesus-moment writings.  Then there's that stuff of pictures and randomness.

Maybe one day I'll have the time and energy to weed out the junk of it, but my prayer is that until then, you'll have the discernment to know what is which. Hopefully you won't judge me too harshly, because, hey, we're all on a journey!

I think we all need a reminder from time to time that it's okay to change your mind and change your perspective... because that's part of growing.  It's my desire to grow into a deeper and fuller relationship with Christ, and that often means letting go of preconceived notions, theories, and beliefs as I give myself to trusting in and agreeing with God.  There's mercy for our mistakes!


Tiffany said...

I love this. It echoes a lot of my own heart and journey with the Lord. I've had seasons of legalism, but that has changed (and is changing) as I've gotten to know the WHO of who He is.

I also love that I randomly found your Instagram account a few weeks ago right after your son was born. I've followed your blog for years (I used to blog at True Femininity) and had wondered about you in the silence. It's great seeing a little of your daily life there. :)

Chris James said...

Thanks for sharing your story. It's truly inspiring! It actually encourages me to start my own blog.