I went to a young adult group tonight in Brentwood and it was a really good experience. I met one person who was also new, but I’m convinced I’ll meet more people as time goes along. It’s a rather large gathering, so it’s harder to get to know people.
The music was fantastic and then the pastor stood up to talk. The group is studying the book of Judges right now, and it is very obvious that this pastor has at least one seminary degree because even with all the knowledge I have gained from studying the Bible my entire life in depth, there were times when I struggled to follow him. The theme of his message was sin, and how sometimes we only halfway follow God (like the Israelites did many times when God ordered them to wipe out a people group and they merely captured them). The pastor dealt a lot with God’s justice, and I agreed pretty close to his theology.
The part that I struggled with was the feeling I had when he was done talking. He spoke about how we all sin a lot and how we are all tempted toward impure things. He gave several lists of common temptations and our need to surrender them to God. Although it was never explicitly said, it felt like I should have felt guilty, and in a way I felt ashamed for not feeling guilty. In the past, maybe I was drawn to those things. However, coming to know Christ at the level I have, my temptations do not reach that level anymore. The temptations that I struggle with are things like having the courage to become involved with a certain group or talk to a certain person that maybe I don’t know. Sometimes I’m tempted to get depressed, a lot of times over the lack of a relationship or such, but those things that he mentioned have no draw for me anymore. God took that away.
I’m sitting there in the service and I say to God, “There’s got to be something in my life that You want to convict me of.” And He responded, “I know that I have your heart. There is no question and no going back. You are exactly where I want you.” You know what is ridiculous? I feel guilty even writing that in my blog. I feel like it’s prideful to write something like that. WHY? Why is it a bad thing to admit that you are right with God? I guess maybe the Church as a whole is guilty of this in seeing the sins of the world and insisting that everyone present has them. I’m not saying that I don’t sin occasionally, but I hope that it is far less than it used to be and that God and I have established a clear enough line of communication that I will deal with it as quickly as possible.
Just yesterday, God wanted to talk to me about something and I kept putting Him off. Finally, at 3:30 I sat down and we had the talk. It is things like that in my life that I struggle with. I used to wonder what God wanted and what He was saying to me, but the closer I get to Him, the less room there is to question. If there is something in my life that needs to change, there’s no missing it, and there’s no going to bed without dealing with it. That’s the way I think it should be. I’m not saying this as a matter of pride, but for the first time in my life I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that God and I…we’re doing great. Now is the time I need to watch out too…because that’s usually when He messes up my world.
Tonight I felt God say to my heart, “Don’t feel guilty for not feeling guilty. Keep open communication with Me, and I will show you when you are off track. It’s ok to feel good about where you are at right now.”
Right after the message, the band played the song “From the Inside Out” by Hillsong. The words are incredible. As I was singing the words, “With my heart and my soul, I give You control. Consume me from the inside out, Lord. Let justice and praise become my embrace, to love You from the inside out,” my heart began to come alive. One of the verses says, “Your will above all else, my purpose remains. The art of losing myself in bringing you praise.” That is what my life is about. It is no longer just words on a screen. I REALLY WANT THAT WITH ALL OF MY HEART. No matter what the cost; no matter where, I’ll go. What I want for my life is truly whatever God wants for my life. It was kind of earth shattering to realize that through this move to Nashville and spending time in rest and in the presence of God, all this has completely clicked in my heart. I pray that God will continue to mold and sharpen His will in my life and help me to be open to the conviction and nudges of His Spirit.
It’s exciting to know that it’s possible. That’s something that we don’t communicate well in the church: a right relationship with God is POSSIBLE! I’m not saying that I don’t sin anymore or that I’m not tempted to give in to some things, but the temptations now are different. They are directly linked to my obedience to the call of Christ in my life. Sin has lost its power and it no longer has a hold on me. That’s the saving grace of God! Tonight we sang, “Into marvelous light I’m running, out of darkness out of shame.” That’s my life. That’s what God has done for me. He has led me out of the darkness into the light. Why would I ever want to go back, or think about what it was like to live there? I see those around me struggling, and I remember what it was like. However, I know and am living a completely different life now. I am loved, I am cherished, I am REDEEMED. I want that for everyone I know!
I really need to say that the pastor was right on tonight. He said something that was SO TRUE: “If you live your life trying to keep from sinning, you are going to fail. What you need to do is STAY CLOSE TO CHRIST.” AMEN!!! That is the secret to this living thing…I wish more people knew it. I wish it wasn’t a secret at all!! Ladies and gentlemen, I am posting this on my blog for the whole world to see: the secret to life is to stay close to Christ! Then, don’t feel guilty for not feeling guilty. Knowing Him is so much more than that. Find out today!