I have recently been learning, growing and experiencing a breakthrough in my walk with Jesus. I am so excited to share a few words with you tonight, because I am honestly just feeling overwhelmingly grateful! I’ve talked before about how God often works in my life by presenting the same topic, idea or challenge over and over again so much that it’s frankly, embarrassing to admit. He is so patient and gentle when I am more than a little slow at picking up what he’s putting down, if you know what I mean.
Over the last, probably year and a half, God has been slowing loosening my grip on this idea that I have to perform in order to stay in relationship with him. Over the last several months I’ve been having huge breakthroughs in understanding that I not only don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love, I literally can’t do anything to earn God’s love either. WHAT. Only in the last few months have I started getting a small taste of what experiencing freedom in Christ is all about, and I’ve gotta say, I’m here for it.
Somewhere along the way, I started believing the lie that in order to grow in intimacy with God, I had to get my crap together. I’m just gonna be real here, cause I’m feelin free tonight. I literally couldn’t do it. If I was feeling extra self-controlled, I could keep my stuff together for a week, tops. But, without fail, the cycle would begin again. I would fall short of God’s standard, give him a stiff arm, and convince myself that he expected more from me and I needed to chill out for a few days, weeks or even months before I could approach him in prayer or study. Because of this constant feeling of guilt and shame, thinking about spending time in prayer or Bible study became increasingly more forced and discouraging. Honestly, I thought that if I really wanted to experience who God was, I had to start living like him first. Hear me, I WAS WRONG.
No, actually, I’m learning that just spending time with Jesus allows me to start living like Jesus.
My brother recently gave me a book by Terry Wardle called Identity Matters. As he handed it to me, he said, “This book will change your life.” and he wasn’t wrong. It has been instrumental in my understanding of what it means to own my identity as a child of God. I am a child of God. That’s always been a difficult concept for me to grasp, probably because I don’t have kids myself. When I actually took the time to explore what understanding that truth might mean for me, freedom rose straight to the surface.
I consider my dad to be one of the biggest blessings in my life. I am so thankful to have a father that has given me a healthy (not perfect) picture of my heavenly father and how he desires to be in relationship with me. When I think about being my dad’s daughter, I experience feelings of freedom and security. I know that I am not his daughter because of anything I’ve done and there’s nothing I can do to change the fact that I am his daughter. While my dad’s love for me doesn’t come close to the love that God has for me, I get a really good picture of what unconditional love looks like. Thanks Daddy ❤
Aside from gaining a more firm grasp on my identity as a child of God, I’m learning to really enjoy spending time in Bible study. This is something that has always been a struggle for me. I can’t honestly say that throughout my entire spiritual journey I’ve been delighted to spend time in God’s word. Many times, its felt like a box that I needed to check, not an opportunity to connect with Jesus. I’m not trying to paint a rosy picture of where I am now, compared to where I was then. I’m sure there will be plenty of days when I won’t spend time in Bible study or prayer, but now, I will be able to acknowledge that I missed an opportunity to hear from Jesus, and believe with all my heart that he loves me anyways and welcomes me home anytime, unconditionally. That’s freedom.
Tonight, I was reading in the book of Matthew and came across the story in chapter 8 when Jesus calms the storm. It’s not a very long story, so I’ve pasted it below. Give it a read.
Jesus Calms the Storm
23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples.24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”
Matthew 8:23-27 NLT
This was not the first miracle that these disciples had seen Jesus perform. In fact, earlier on their trip, they had watched Jesus heal a ton of sick people. They should not have been that amazed at Jesus being able to calm this storm. Right? They had seen him perform a lot of other miracles, but they didn’t realize that even nature was under his authority.
This is a story that I’ve heard many times before, but upon deeper reflection, God prompted a new question in my heart. In the margin of my Bible I wrote, “What boundaries have I placed around God’s power?” For the disciples, they knew he was powerful, but they didn’t know his power was capable of calming a physical storm.
I know that God has the power to transform lives, but do I really believe that he is has the power to transform my life? Do I believe that he wants to? Will I allow him to?
These are questions that will likely flutter around in my head for a while as God continues to draw me closer to himself and reveal his heart for me.
I know that many of the concepts that I’ve shared tonight might seem elementary to you, and I’m okay with that. If 18-year-old Sagan were reading this blog post, she might actually think the same thing. One of the greatest mysteries of faith in Jesus, is that God can reveal a truth about himself to you at different seasons of you life, granting you deeper levels of understanding each time. I am so thankful for his constant teaching and refining.
I’m coming to realize that I’m not satisfied with the amount of God’s power I’ve seen demonstrated in my own life. I’ve been living off of my own strength for the good majority of my days and I’m pretty tired of it. Christ lives in me and I know that he’s capable of more. I can’t do it, but he sure can. The question remains, will I position myself to receive all that he wants to give?
Be encouraged, friends.