Someone recently asked me what I meant when I said that once I admitted that the foundations of my Christian life needed rebuilt, God met me.
I am so glad you asked. Thank you!
I've had a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, since I was six years old. This relationship has been very real, touching every part of my being, spirit, mind, and body. Early on, however, I slipped into performing my way into God's favor - and was unfortunately good at it. My own strength and effort carried me for too many years.
Occasional fasting, daily prayer, Bible reading, Bible teaching, raising children, home educating them, exercise, careful diet, hours of study across wide disciplines, being a loving, supportive wife, keeping a clean home, and clean living, plus discipling others and impacting their lives for Christ, it all came easily to me, so long as I worked very hard. (Can you hear the contradiction yet?)
I thought I understood the grace of God, after all, I've been a Christian leader for years.
Ah, "I was brought low, and He helped me..."
All it took was a little perceived failure, a dash of mid life hormones, plus the steady influence of a few grumpy Christians living under the law, and I began to unravel, sinking into a depression that I have only described in detail to a very few people. I "should" have seen a doctor. If I ever see that dark place again, I will.
My pastor-husband began revisiting the doctrines of grace, and I followed suit. The only explanation for what happened next is that the veil fell from my face. I, with unveiled face, began to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and began to encounter grace.
It is precisely at the point of encounter, where my legalist friends (and I) had it all wrong. We understood grace too quickly, early in our Christian experience, and thus failed to understand well at all. No one lingered. No one was raw and needy anymore, once they were converted. Oh, we had hard times - very, very hard times - and we sacrificed and worked our way out of them, giving God the glory all the way.
The only difference today between them and I, is that I admitted my ineptitude, and meant it. I came crestfallen to the cross, admitting that the very foundations of my spiritual life needed to be rebuilt on the true, full gospel of grace. I changed my mind - which is to say, I repented of relying on my own abilities.
A walk with God has actually not as much to do with behavior modification, self-conscious self discipline, or even morality. It has more to do with the beauty of grace. Grace cannot be known in concept, it must always be encountered in a person.
I began to encounter Christ in the Pauline gospel in a fresh way. To this day, I'm blessedly ruined. Forever undone. Gloriously insufficient in myself to please God - thankfully, He is eternally pleased with Christ Alone, and I am In Christ.
My friend, it is not by works of righteousness (which I have done...oh, have I ever done them!) but according to His mercy He saved me. It is by grace I am saved, and in the same way I received Christ, I am expected to walk in Him.
My days and years of confidence in the flesh are gone. The paradoxical thing is that I am doing more, setting higher goals, attaining to more than before. Because it would be perfectly okay if I did nothing at all.
The thing that is different today, is that this vessel, now that it has been broken at the feet of Jesus, is releasing the perfume that is in it...also Jesus. For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things. My heart is tender to the breaking point, and in my weakness, He is made so strong.
My righteousness is reckoned to me. It is a gift.
Bless His name!