“Follow Me”

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I was heartbroken when we walked out those back doors. It seemed surreal at the moment, as if I couldn’t believe it was truly happening. Slowly, reality sunk in.

We had left our church for the last time. The church where my husband, our sons, and I were all baptized. Where my husband and I first participated in communion, confirmed our faith, and where we were married.

This was our home.

Our community of believers.

This was our history.

But it wouldn’t be from that moment forward.

Even though we had tough times before…extreme losses…hurt…pain and forgiveness, this felt completely different.

For the first time in my life, I had no idea where God wanted us to be.

I had no idea where He was going to lead us.

I took time away that afternoon to be alone….digest what had happened. I asked God for direction. I asked Him for the purpose in this. I asked “What next?” All I could see in front of me was darkness…the abyss…absolutely nothing.

I didn’t know where we were going. I didn’t know where our children would attend Sunday School or church services. I didn’t know who our new church family would be. It was a blank slate, but one I wasn’t excited about.

I was at a loss.

I grieved.

I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.

I felt abandoned and alone that afternoon. Like I had been deceived my entire life and all that I had believed to be true, was a lie. It was an awful feeling and one I never want to relive.

So many questions…with no answers. So much hurt…but not sure where to turn. So much to think about…but I still didn’t know what to think.

Our synod had made some changes that my husband and I, along with others, didn’t believe were biblical. This led to more research, more questions, more unveiling of beliefs I didn’t know our church/synod believed. No one had come out and told us these things. It was as if they were “unspoken”, in a way.

Many fellow congregants didn’t have problems with any of the issues we were feeling convicted of. There were many who were angry we brought these issues to light. But the studying and praying and utter conviction on our hearts wasn’t something we felt we could ignore. We couldn’t stay in a church we knew didn’t believe the bible was the infallible, inerrant Word of our Almighty God.

It was ironic timing, as my husband and family had recently had the biggest growth in our faith to date. We were diving into scripture, relying on His promises and truths to get us through the hardest times of our lives. And when we were solidified and grounded deeply in our faith, this happens.

I don’t believe in coincidences…I believe God chose that moment to reveal that information after our roots had been so established in His Word and in Him. That was a time when we didn’t doubt God at all.

So, we felt we God wanted us to leave and follow Him. The only problem was we didn’t know where we were going. Where was He going to lead us? That church? Or that church? Or maybe that one? Which church? The only thing we were certain of was that God was still on the throne.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

That’s what we were ultimately being called to do. Have faith…be sure and certain…even though we could not see our hands being held right in front of our faces.

Blind faith.

Complete and utter surrender to His will for our lives.

Yes, we had a choice…but we chose to follow Him and His lead, wherever that might be.

At times I admit I was a little scared. Probably because I was out of control and couldn’t see the future. But most of the time, I felt peace knowing we followed our hearts…we followed the Word…we followed what we believed God was telling us to do. I knew at some point, He would bring us to the church that would feel like home again.

And He did. Not right away…and not after some tears and sweat and frustration and a lot of discussions….but with time, patience and faith, I believe we have found where we belong. At least I hope so.

There’s been so much uncertainty in my life, especially this past year. So much I could bring up…so much I don’t understand. Yet, this story was the one that kept coming to mind.

I don’t know what tomorrow might bring, but I know Who holds tomorrow.

I don’t know where our lives are taking us at this moment, but I know Who already has it planned out.

I don’t know how I’m going to get through this winter, but I know Who will help me.

I can’t see the future. I can’t see the answers to the many, many questions I have about life right now. But God has proven faithful over and over and over again, so how can I doubt He has the answers and is just waiting to reveal them to me? That He is telling me to be patient, yet again?

I did finally figure a bit of this out. It took me awhile (I’m blonde)…but I know all of these uncertainties…all of these black holes in my life…are only meant to bring me closer to God.

They’re meant to bring me closer to my husband and children, who I hope will turn to God along with me.

They’re meant to help my marriage thrive with God in the center, as long as we obey.

You see, walking with blind faith is actually a gift. A precious gift our Jesus gives us. He gives us moment after moment to draw close to Him…to come to Him with our questions and desires…our impatience…our dreams and desires…our fears.  Everything.

How can that be bad? A closer relationship with Jesus?

My study bible says, “When we believe that God will fulfill his promises even though we don’t see those promises materializing yet, we demonstrate true faith.” (regarding Hebrews 11:1)

Is God asking you to have blind faith? Are you resisting? It can be a scary step and I can’t promise all roses without the thorns. But I do know that God wants us to follow Him more than ever.

It can be a very good thing. The places He can take you (and me) are limitless. The gifts He can bestow on us are priceless. The life He offers us can be all we could hope for…and more.

Take His out-stretched hand and accept His invitation with blind faith…take the risk and revel in what He does with your life.

I can’t wait to hear what happens!

Mistake after Mistake

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Boy, do I make mistakes.

Sometimes it feels like I make so many and will never be forgiven for them. My mind is like a movie reel that replays the mistakes over and over and over again.

“What did you do that for?”

 “Didn’t you learn last time?”

“Why do you keep screwing up?”

It’s almost as if each morning I wake up and plan to make so many mistakes even before the boys leave the house for school. Of course, I don’t plan on that, but it happens; and it happens way too often. And that movie reel just keeps playing…

“Again?  Really…again?”

Now, generally, when I make a mistake or do something unkind towards someone, I apologize and ask for their forgiveness.  Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t…at least not at that moment. And that pierces my heart. I guess I want their approval so I can forgive myself.

When I know I’ve messed up, I do try to live differently. But just like every single human on the face of this earth, I continue to screw up. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes just with myself.

I am imperfect and I am a sinner.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m in no way justifying what I do and what I continue to do. I actually feel like Paul writing to the Romans. Starting in chapter 7 verse 15:

I do not understand what I do. For what I WANT to do, I do not do–but what I HATE, I do. (Emphasis mine)

Verse 17 says:

 As it is, it is no longer I, myself, who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18) I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19) For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

Skipping to Verse 24:

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  25) Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

We are born into sin. We are not immune to it. We sin on purpose—we sin without knowing it—we are just plain and simple: sinners.

But the story doesn’t end there.

 Right after Paul speaks of the wretched man he is, he writes this in Romans 8:1-2:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

 Every single day, I need Jesus.

Every single moment I need His forgiveness.

I need Him to set me free from sin and death.

Not so life can be perfect; not so I can avoid trials; not so I won’t make any further mistakes; but so when I do screw up (and I will), I can repent, turn from my ways with God’s help, and be free. That’s my goal.

Repent. Turn from my sin. Change my ways. Be forgiven. Be free.

Free from eternity in hell—free from the bondage of sin—free from that movie reel that insists on playing in my mind. The list goes on…

Without Jesus, I am nothing. Absolutely nothing. But with Jesus, I am forgiven, saved, loved, accepted, and totally free.

“Utterly dependent, but totally free.”

I’m guessing many of you also struggle with your own sin and guilt. It seems easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves at times. The Good News is that Jesus died for all of us to give us freedom from sin.

He knocks at our door waiting to be invited in. He’ll never push His way into our lives. He wants us to ask Him in. His invitation is beautiful…

“28) Come to me, all who weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. 29) Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30) For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

What a precious gift! An invite to a life where we don’t have to carry the burden. We can lay it at His feet and walk away. Not to go simply go back to our sinful lifestyle, as if we’re given a license to sin; but for us to lay our burdens down, turn from them, and walk in freedom towards a better future.

Have you accepted that invitation from Him? Have you accepted the free gift of salvation and eternal life that only comes through accepting Him as your Lord and Savior? If not, I invite you to ask Him into your life today.  That is my prayer for each of you…to experience the beautiful forgiveness that comes from the sacrifice He made upon that cross.

Jesus doesn’t  want us tied up in the shackles of our sins and mistakes. He wants to give us freedom. We only need to accept it.

May you be blessed as you ponder these questions.  May you find the peace that passes all understanding…the complete peace that can only come from Him.

God bless you, my friends.