When I was about eight years old, I gave my life to Christ. I bowed my knees and my head in front of our couch with my father and prayed the sinner’s prayer – and with all of my eight year old heart, I meant every word of it. I wanted my sins forgiven and I wanted heaven. I wanted that place of rest, perfection, and angels. That place where I wouldn’t have to worry about getting everything right, I would then (sometime in the distant future) be right.
Unfortunately, my eight year old self missed a key component of the truth and in many ways I’ve been stuck there all these years. I missed the fact that I wasn’t just forgiven of my sins, but I was actually crucified with Christ that day. That day I died, but I didn’t know it. I died and was resurrected as a completely new creature and from that point forward Christ was to live His life through me. In hind sight I realize that like Lazarus, I heard Jesus call me out of the grave, out of death. I answered, I said yes, but I never walked out of the tomb.
I’ve lived wrapped in my grave clothes, my flesh, all this time. Instead of walking free, I’ve hobbled around bound. Instead of walking in the Light, I’ve hidden in the dark. Instead of living as a child of God, I’ve lived like a beggar. Instead of walking in newness of life I’ve tried to resuscitate my dead flesh. I’ve dressed it up to give it the illusion of life. I’ve been very busy doing all the right things giving the appearance of life in Christ, but I was living in my own strength just spinning my wheels.
You know what the fruit of the flesh is? Death. We can’t manufacture life. Only God gives life.
Many years ago, May of 1998, I believe, I heard Nancy Leigh DeMoss speak at a women’s conference in Atlanta, GA, about Jesus calling Lazarus forth from the grave in the gospel of John. When I heard that message, you know who I identified with in the story? The people who Jesus told to unwrap Lazarus’ grave clothes. The people who were WATCHING the miracle. The people Jesus gave something to DO. It was a profound message. It was a great message, but it reinforced a long-held belief that I have to DO in order to BE, that I have to perform for God to be accepted by God.
I have never, until very recently, identified with the one, Lazarus, who was actually resurrected. The one who EXPERIENCED the miracle of new life. Isn’t that the gospel? Dead people brought to life! Resurrected people EXITING tombs, prisons of death, Light-less caves!
I am so grateful the Father has not left me in the tomb. He has pursued me. He has sent others to unwrap me with the message of grace. As I daily soak in these truths I feel like one walking out of a tomb and into the Light. Sometimes the Light is blinding and painful, but how freeing and how wonderful. I feel like that eight year old girl is finally becoming the true version of herself that the Father ALWAYS intended.
My prayer every single day is, “Thank You Father for not giving up on me! For being faithful to Your Word and NEVER leaving me nor forsaking me, for pursuing me and persuading me of Your love and of the free gift of Your amazing grace.”
Maybe you are wondering why on earth I would bare my soul this way. Why would a woman who has hidden her entire life feel compelled to expose the ugliest parts of herself and, honestly, be naked in front of the world? I don’t think I could say it any better than Elie Wiesel:
“No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night. We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them.” ~ Elie Wiesel on the occasion of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, December 10, 1986.
I know I am not the only one who missed the Truth and believed a lie. My prayer is that my story will help unwrap someone else.