I’ll start by saying I’m no expert on spiritual matters. In fact, I’m quick to call myself a work in progress. I haven’t arrived at some divine place in my walk with God, my face doesn’t shine like Moses, and I foul up on the daily. So anything I share isn’t from some pedestal place of my creating. I just want to chat about how I went from point A to point B in my life as a Christian. I know without a doubt there’s a point C, D, and beyond that I strive for, but looking back over just the past decade of my life I am blown away. I am a different Brie in 2017 than I was in 2007, and of most importance is the truth that I didn’t change on my own. It was for sure divine intervention, but it also didn’t occur overnight. It’s matured a little each day, over time, and I thought someone might like to hear how.
When I look back over the past eight years or so I can pinpoint certain decisions I made in life that I believe helped me to grow closer to the Lord. When you’ve created a distance between yourself and God, or perhaps when there’s a chasm related to sin, it’s not a gap that can be closed all at once. Asking Jesus for forgiveness and turning from sin is a really good start, but it also involves a daily decision to keep walking in that. So I guess you could say my journey back to God initially began with the decision to stop doing the things that I felt separated me from His presence. You never stop sinning, and every day of my life the Lord reveals to me new ways I can improve, but it has to start somewhere. My start began with absolutely stopping the actions I knew weren’t pleasing to Him.
Reflecting backwards over the past six years or so one of the biggest actions I feel like I made to draw closer to the Lord was spending time with Him. It started when I took a job where I had to work every Sunday. I was so worried my relationship with the Lord would suffer since I’d be missing church on Sunday that I made the extra effort to seek Him all during the week. Every day I made the time to read my Bible, read devotions, pray, listen, and worship. I’ve done this every single day for at least six years now. I don’t think you can spend quiet time with the Lord, read scripture every day, pray it over yourself, and not be impacted by that.
I also changed the type of things I let into my mind. I changed the books I read. I changed the movies I watched. I even changed the music I listened to. I’ve always been a person who really enjoyed music, but around 5-6 years ago I decided to take a 30 day challenge a Christian radio station suggested. In that timeframe I only listened to Christian music. After that I felt so good that I kept it going indefinitely. I’ll stop here to say that I love and appreciate all forms of music, and I never judge or think less of anyone who listens to secular music. We all do what we think is best for ourselves and our family. For my family we do not listen to secular music. I’m typically lost on social media when people do parodies or spoofs of a popular song. Lol.
I also opened up the line of communication. I didn’t just reserve praying for meals and bedtime. I didn’t just pray when I wanted healing or help. I did pray for my needs and those of others, but I also praised the Lord for my blessings throughout the day. When I woke up I told him good morning, and when I liked my shower I told Him so. I worshiped in the kitchen while cooking supper, and I took advantage of semi-quiet times on the road as an opportunity to listen. Over time as you open your heart, speak to God about everything, and see His hand in it all, you begin to just chat with Him on the daily. It’s not to say God isn’t mighty and deserving of our reverence, but it is to say that He’s not some unapproachable, angry guy in the sky. He’s a Father who cares about our needs, all our needs, and loves to hear us tell Him all about it. As you make a point to talk to God more about your daily life you find that you create this open communication line that is just there. It’s like you never hang up the phone. He’s always on call, and the fact is you can’t talk to someone all day and not be close!
Last week I looked up at the sky and I said, “oh God, those clouds are beautiful!” Then it struck me that they had been beautiful the day before too. But also the day before that. And the day before that. And what about that sunset I last saw?! I wondered, did the sky just start becoming so lovely recently, or did I just start noticing it more? I felt like I just so happened to come to a place where I enjoyed it more. I was able to open my eyes and see the gifts from God in everything. I was able to see it in the beauty of nature, the health of my family, but also even in the circumstances of life that didn’t always work out as I had hoped. I was able to understand that God held control of all things, so even when things didn’t seem to work out, really they did. Because of Him. I think we’re all born to be optimists, seeing the glass half full. It’s the world that taints us. Being filled with hope, persisting in faith, and trusting in all circumstances has given me a positive outlook I never had before. It doesn’t mean my life is always perfect. It just means I know God is.
I think it’s important to add this. Nothing we do in and of itself creates this relationship with Jesus. It’s not our actions that create our salvation. It just is. It’s a relationship of redemption and grace that awaits our acceptance, and other than agreeing that yes, you want it, there’s no other magical formula you must follow to achieve the fullness that walking with God supplies. I’m not trying to get into a theological debate on the steps to Salvation. That’s not what this blog is about. I’m going to assume that those seeking to draw closer to Jesus have received the gift of eternal life. My point is that I’m not trying to say our actions make this relationship. They don’t; His grace does. This is just me sharing how my relationship has deepened over time. I made purposeful decisions to seek His face and I think that helps. I’m grateful for the relationship I enjoy with Jesus, but if a recent trial with anxiety and depression has taught me anything it has taught me that I am powerless. I don’t have control of my life, nor do I hold the key to peace. I am humbled to realize that although I’m far from where I was a decade ago that I still have not arrived to the fullness of what He has for me. I’m reminded of this fabulous verse.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I’m not there yet, but I press on. I’m just grateful I decided to participate in the race. Because when you’re running with God it doesn’t seem like a rat race or rush of a chaotic life that is spinning out of control. You still get weary, but there’s always a place to find rest.