When I look back on my testimony with Christ I struggle with the messiness of it all. There was no perfect Christian home to serve as the foundation of my faith (I mean really is there ever?). There was not even an ideal 2-parent family setup with a Cosby-like appeal. Instead there was struggle and darkness and well meaning people who loved me to their best ability.
It was better than most but not as good as some.
It really wasn’t until I met Jesus that I received real friendship. Not even just through Himself but from His kids. And all of a sudden my world was lit up. I woke up each morning so excited about Him, ready to share this excitement with anyone with a listening ear. I fell in love. Funny thing about it is that I was currently in a relationship in which I felt I was in love, yet as cliche as it sounds, I truthfully had not met a love like His before. Christ had invaded my entire being; body, mind and soul and no man could ever touch the parts of me that He had.
There was this sweet honeymoon period where sin seemed far away and the thought of being disobedient to His will was appalling. But alas, the honeymoon ended and I was faced with what seemed to be an onslaught of difficult circumstances. My old man was surfacing and the fiery darts of the wicked one were trying their best to take me out the game. And sometimes I was hit. Sometimes I succumbed to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. And sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I took the way out and was obedient to His lead. Funny thing is, no matter what I chose His love remained same. He never turned His back on me and actually continued to encourage me in the midst of my struggle. He understood what I am still learning, that it’s not about our works, or about our squeaky clean record, but about His unconditional love and grace. It’s about the journey and a journey is a long extended trip, not a fly by night occurrence.
The perfectionist in me still craves that squeaky cleanness though. Still reaches out for works that will validate my righteousness apart from the blood of Jesus. I’m learning how much this self righteousness grieves Him, even as much as the outward sin it leads to. Heart sins seem to go unseen the most. When someone is homosexual and wears their sin on their sleeve the body of Christ seems quick to point the finger but are we pointing the finger at our own hearts which are laced with as much pride and judgement as the Pharisees? I know that Jesus constantly came down pretty hard on the Pharisees who were full of pride and religion, yet His response to sexual sin was forgiveness and encouragement not to sin again (John 7:53-8:11). Could it be He responded in such a manner because He understood that it takes humility to repent and that the sexual act of adultery brings with it a shame one can not help but be humbled by? He is sure to draw near to the humble which must mean He draws away from the prideful…I asked the Lord to help me learn this humility apart from falling as it seems that is when I am most humbled. His response to me:
“Nicole, do not compare yourself with others. Only compare yourself with Me. If you compare yourself with others it is easy to think you are doing better than they are. If you compare yourself to Me you will always see that you are imperfect”.
We are truly all on the same playing field. That is why I believe Paul was able to call himself the biggest sinner (1 Timothy 1:12-17). He was so humble and only compared Himself with Christ so he had no problem seeing his own weakness. We all go through different seasons of life when one may feel as if they are doing better than others however we are advised:
“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).
Do not make judgements based on chapter 3 of someone’s life because Christ has this amazing ability to bring down the house with the finale. We see that in the story He wrote for Himself…on the 3rd day He rose again.
So even though I hate my own weakness and grow frustrated when I can’t seem to get it right, I know His response is that this frustration is a result of my own desire to get it right all on my own, without Him. Apart from Him I can do nothing and yet with Him I can do all things.
So when I feel that the road is narrow, the journey is hard and I’m in the fight of my life, I’m learning that my victory comes when I put down my gloves and get on my knees. The real victory is there on the mat of the ring, when I’m surrendered and bowed down before Him. Declaring that I am nothing and He is all (Gal 2:20).