What was your life like when you surrendered to Jesus?
What would your life be like today if you had not trusted Him as Savior?
My husband posed these questions at church during a Sunday morning gathering.
I remembered my pain and desperation as a young teenage girl looking for unconditional love and meaning in life, and coming up empty. When I heard the message of Jesus, I opened my heart to Him, and was radically changed.
Then I imagined myself without Jesus. A woman who never found purpose and hope. A life marked by substance abuse, addiction, ravaged family relationships. Emptiness, despair, depression, attempted suicide, death.
These mental pictures remind me that I still desperately need Jesus, thirty-five years into this journey with Him.
I am an ordained ministered, and I direct a non-profit, Christ ministry. I have thirty years experience of mastering the ministry lifestyle, with the appropriate godly exterior and accompanying conversations. My struggles do not involve blatantly sinful behavior. I am not usually tempted to return to old habits or to leave my husband. Every so often though, pride subtly wraps itself around my soul, a silent weed slowly choking out spiritual life. I feel content by my condition, cloaked with smugness as I entertain the lie that, while not perfect, I have arrived. Apathy takes control until I can no longer ignore the nagging, gnawing dissatisfaction.
God, in His grace, reminds me of the truth. I realize that I stand today only because I am saved by grace, transformed by grace, and I live by grace. Christ in me makes me who I am and ignites my spiritual passion. Left to the devices of my old, sinful nature I am truly lost, selfish, without hope. Underneath my carefully decorated veneer, without Jesus I am a broken mess.
Thankfully I am not left alone. By the power of the Holy Spirit working in me, my new Christ-like self is in control. I am a child of God. I no longer live as a sinner. But I will always be a woman in need of my Savior. I will never arrive. I will always be in need of His grace.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless (Galatians 2:20-21a, NLT).
I simply cannot go through the so-called Christian motions. I cannot rely on my own human efforts to become transformed and live a God-honoring life. It is not enough to complete my checklist for Bible reading, prayer, fasting, giving, serving, and other important practices. These things are an extension of my love relationship with Jesus, an expression of His grace. I am absolutely dependent on walking closely with Jesus, abiding in His life-giving presence, being constantly aware that He lives in me.
Every moment Jesus extends His grace. Every moment I must live by His grace.
My life is demanding. There are times when being a leader feels overwhelming. The truth is I do not have what it takes to accomplish what God is asking of me. But He always does. Thriving happens when I stop striving and instead trust and rest in Him.
In the words of Ida Lewis, a courageous woman in the 1800s who spent her life as a lighthouse attendant and rescued dozens of people from the sea, “I am not that strong , but God gives me the strength as I need it.”
Truly, there’s no greatness in what you see in me or in the things that I may achieve. Through it all, see the grace of Jesus. Amazing grace.
The Lord extends an invitation to you to live by grace. Will you accept it?
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14, NIV).
Heavenly Father, I depend on You, but sometimes an independent spirit gets a hold of me. Open my eyes to see my need of You in every area of my life. Teach me to rely completely on You and Your grace. May I live and move and breathe by Your grace. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.