Aren’t you relieved there are no identi-kit Christians?
We don’t have to look or sound alike.
Having unity together is more about fellowship and being united in love than having full agreement on more than the fundamentals of our faith.
We are allowed to be ourselves. See wood where others see trees. Sense Holy Spirit’s presence in a variety of ways.
God meets us right where we are, at our point of greatest need.
He chased me and wooed me with His unconditional Love.
It was something I’d never encountered before, but my empty, old before its time, desperate-child heart yearned for it.
Here was safety. Here lay security. Here flowed acceptance and peace.
And I came to faith in a ‘happy-clappy’ environment where joy and exuberance were the order of the day.
I wore ‘Jesus Loves Me/You’ stickers, a big grin, innocent optimism in sharing my new-found life in Christ, and a profound gratitude toward God for the glorious gift of salvation.
So I continued for a little while until mental health breakdown, partial recovery, followed by life’s multiple challenges, another breakdown and a haunting legacy of childhood abuse sucked all the joy out of life.
Depression and emotional pain skewed my thinking, clouded my judgement, and left me lost in the wilderness for many years.
Where did God feature? Was His love enough? Was it my fault?
A slow recovery took place and I had a fresh revelation of grace. I drank it deep into my very being as soul manna and sustenance.
But having begun my faith journey majoring on love and forgiveness, I was still largely ignorant of sin and reluctant to speak or think about it. This woman was already stained by her past, full of guilt, shame, self-recrimination and condemnation. And God loved her anyway.
Because, wasn’t God a God of love? Didn’t grace and forgiveness cover all?
Though grace is cheapened if we fail to fully appreciate the price Jesus paid to secure it for us.
Now, a little older (and wiser maybe?), though I still struggle with self-esteem issues and will always veer the conversation round to grace and encouragement than otherwise, it is gradually dawning on me how sin cannot be ignored or swept away.
And I am still getting my head around how to achieve the balance between hating sin yet not hating myself. Maybe you get stuck there too?
My soul seeks freedom from all that chained me and those things enslaving me now.
I want to embrace grace and be free to give it to others.
So I am leaning into His love as I think. question, talk about sin’s effects and outworkings, see how fallible and tainted I am and yet (marvellously) so dearly loved and cherished by our heavenly Father ~ just as you are too.
Here is a ‘Prayer Whisper’ which God poured into my listening heart last February. It still speaks volumes to me and I hope it will bless you too:
“How easily you can fool yourself that you’re not sinning. To justify your actions with excuses and cover-ups.
Allow My Holy Light to shine upon your thoughts, words and deeds. Do not be afraid of its consuming power. It will not harm you.
I seek only to burn off the dross and detritus you carry. Such things weigh you down, sully your relationship with Me and sour your interactions with others.
I want to set you free, even from those burdens you have barely noticed as such ~ so familiar have they become.
It is only in the cleansing which follows letting go and laying down that real change and transformation can happen.
Bad habits pollute your mind and body. Once you are able to set them down before Me, you can begin the process of breaking free from them.
Open yourself. Be real before Me. I already know everything about you. Seek to live freely and lightly in the liberty of My Presence.
My purity and power are available to enable and equip you for the next stage of your journey.”
“The fact that God is love, that He is pure, holy and righteous is the reason why He is angry at sin. It violates, distorts, and destroys what His purpose is. Wrath is inevitable to a God of love, otherwise the love would be tenuous and weak” ~ Charles Price ‘My Daily Journey with Christ’
Joining here with Diana and other questing souls as we are #LivingtheQuestions and #LivingintotheAnswers
This week’s question:”What’s with all this talk about sin?” You are very welcome to hop over and join in the discussion.
15 thoughts on “Living freely”
Oh, thank you, Joy, for this thoughtful and helpful response. Finding our way to a true picture of who we are is fraught with pitfalls, isn’t it? We are weak and sinful creatures – but we are also dearly loved and the recipients of amazing grace. Thank you for this rich contribution to our conversation about sin!
All the thanks go to you, Diana, for commencing this rich seam of conversation and deep enquiry. We are all learning and growing together. I wouldn’t have been inspired to write this without the prompting of this new series and enjoying your reflective approach to faith! Blessings 🙂
This is beautiful, Joy! Your story makes me think of a garden bright with blossoms of hope and truth and love.
Really? Oh how lovely. I certainly hope so! Thank you for contributing to the discussion here, Elena. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
I so agree with what you wrote: ‘How easily you can fool yourself that you’re not sinning. To justify your actions with excuses and cover-ups.’ I’m trying to become more aware of what I’m thinking / doing / feeling so that I can avoid getting stuck in sin. It isn’t easy and will clearly be a lifetime occupation!
It’s interesting to me to read about other people’s perceptions of sin. It seems different churches stress different things. Probably something to learn from each one.
Thank you for this post.
Juliet, when God gave me that ‘Prayer Whisper’ word it hit home powerfully and painfully. Ouch ~ in a big way! But it was also eye-opening and releasing to have a greater awareness of how God perceives sin yet loves the sinner. Anything (and indeed anyone) that gets in the way of our relationship with God is to be paid attention to. As you so perceptively say, “It isn’t easy and will clearly be a lifetime occupation!”
It interests me too to read other people’s views on this topic. We all seem to have come from varying traditions and backgrounds. It makes for an eclectic and fascinating mix of opinions! I came to faith in a Pentecostal church, then went to a Baptist church, and ended up spending the majority of my life in an Independent Evangelical one. Though my yearning these days is more toward the Contemplative pathway. We have much to learn from one another. Thanks very much for stopping by to add your thoughts to the conversation. Blessings 🙂 x
…”And I am still getting my head around how to achieve the balance between hating sin yet not hating myself. Maybe you get stuck there too?” … I do get stuck here too! I trust it is due to the fact we are still here in this earthly realm, fighting the greatest battle ever fought…in our mind, our thoughts! I love this “liberty in His presence” !!! Joy, this heartfelt testimony really touched my heart and spoke to me. God is our Emancipator, His love is pure! I pray along with you my friend, “I want to set you free, even from those burdens you have barely noticed as such ~ so familiar have they become.” I pray He will continue His work and set me free, let me truly grasp His grace and He has already lifted my burdens at Calvary! God bless you Joy! You are a true inspiration and encouragement to me! Blessings. 🙂 xx
Yes, we are “still here in this earthly realm, fighting the greatest battle ever fought..in our minds, our thoughts!” No wonder we feel battle-weary and lost at times. Though we have God as “our Emancipator” to work within to set us free. Thank you for understanding, Kathy, and thank you most of all for coming alongside me in prayer. We all need reminders from time to time about how God has already borne every sin burden for us. My friend, the feeling is mutual. You are definitely “a true inspiration and encouragement to me”! Blessings 🙂 x
Blessings 🙂 xx
to walk in grace without denying sin
to accept all He has already done
that we could never do
this is to embrace His cross
and live in His love
Beautifully put, Karin. Yes, indeed! Blessings 🙂 x
So beautiful, this esp. caught me “But having begun my faith journey majoring on love and forgiveness, I was still largely ignorant of sin and reluctant to speak or think about it. This woman was already stained by her past, full of guilt, shame, self-recrimination and condemnation. And God loved her anyway” When you speak of the struggle to not hate yourself, but instead the sin, WOW. I could so relate with that. Thanks for your transparent piece
Thank you, Christa. I’m so pleased you could relate to this. It feels like transparency is my middle name ~ or maybe my calling? God seems to lead me to reveal things I may have preferred to remain concealed. But if another soul is blessed in the process then it is worth the vulnerability.
Amazing grace! Beautiful post!
Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
Mel from Essential Thing Devotions
Thank you, Mel! It’s lovely of you to stop by and read my words. I am blessed as always to link up with Essential Fridays. 🙂 x