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I know who I am. At this point in my life I am well aware of my strengths and my limitations. I know who Jesus has called me to be and I am also aware of the tools the enemy uses to try to weaken my faith. I wish with all my heart that knowledge was enough to perfectly transform my story. But it’s not.
As a young Christian, it was all about control for me. Controlling my impulses. Controlling my decisions and my surroundings. Controlling the rules with which I lived by. And I was very, very good at control. It was easy. I felt numb a lot, true. But I was generally calm and generally happy. It was enough for me I guess.
Then God upset my apple cart. All that perceived control was forcibly ripped from my tightly clenched, white-knuckled fists. Left behind were raw, gaping wounds, bloody and terrifying. I didn’t know how I would make it through those dark days and gut-wrenching nights. But what I found in that moment was a tenderness and depth to God that I never quite knew existed before. It was as if He stooped down to where I was and lifted me to someplace so much brighter, so much richer, it’s hard to put into words. He was just that indescribably good to me.
Gone was the need to perform, the need to hold onto control. Instead, a rich and radiant light permeated my soul and called me to a deeper identity in Christ, one that is driven by love versus rules, by a genuine desire to become more like my hero Jesus than from a fear of disappointing Him—even though I hate letting Him down. Yet even this doesn’t guarantee I won’t struggle from time to time. As much as my scars should remind me of the futility of going it my own way, they are silvered, faded and faint, and my soul can forget the lessons I’ve learned. Once again, I try to pick back up the reins of my life instead of letting Jesus lead me.
I’m not proud of my sometimes waivering faith, yet neither do I feel guilty. Jesus died to free me from performance (Amen!). But at least now I’ve learned how to struggle. I fight to not look back at my own scars, tempting though that may be. Remembering wounds and the fear and bitterness they want to whisper back into my heart makes me reactive, and I forget that God has called me to live for more, and to move from the position of a healed and whole-hearted life. No, the scars I look at are Jesus’ scars, the scars that tell me my truth: that I am free and I am whole, that I am worthy and I am loved, that I am victorious and I am blessed. And most especially that I am enough.
Every day, people and situations invite me to think less about who I am. But every day Jesus reminds me of whose I am and the names He gives me, names like chosen and righteous and redeemed. So like Paul, I fight in those moments to fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. And I pick myself back up and I move forward in faith once again.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT I love studying different versions of the Bible because I find they more thoroughly flesh out the meaning of certain passages. This one comes from the Message version, and I find it very powerful and inspiring: “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:2-3). Need an adrenaline shot of faith? Read Hebrews 11-12:3 and remember that Jesus defines you and nothing else. Reach for Him. He always, always reaches back.
PRAYER Lord, You are always good to me whether I’m struggling and weak, or joyful and full of hope. Thank You for always being faithful to me even when I feel faithless, and for teaching me in ever increasing measure how to be the same. I get overwhelmed by Your lovingkindness sometimes! Thank You that You lavish Your grace on me so freely. Let me walk closely with You today with my eyes firmly fixed on You. You have promised to make my path straight as I lean on You and let You guide me. I trust You, Papa. Guide me today. Amen.