I have spent almost an entire year rejecting my God.
Many days with my Bible closed, untouched. I refused to pray. I refused His presence although He remained near.
This year, the Lord has worked in me such a different, more foundational, understanding of what it means to be His. Having been raised Christian and having been a part of several different churches over the course of my teenager and adult years, somehow it gets drilled into your senses that to be Christian means you must do __ and __. To be __ and __. American Christianity loves to fill in the blanks. Yep, we're really good at having all the answers and doing and being. But God spoke to me a surprising word this year.
I am His. Even when I don't act like it.
I am His. Even when I refuse every Christian discipline and practice of devotion.
I am His. Even when I tell Him how much He has disappointed me and how unhappy He has made me. Even when, like I child, I utter the words I hate You, breaking His heart over and over.
I am His. Even when I don't talk to Him for weeks.
I am His. Even when I renounce every Christian act, prayer, word, church or denomination.
I am His. Even when I am so broken, so calloused, so bitter, so unlike Him in every thought, word, and deed.
I am His. Even when I am too hurting and bruised to love again.
He says, I bought you with a price. You are Mine. You are My daughter. You can't undo what I have completed. You cannot un-be who you are, the you that I have made alive through my Son. Your identity is tied to me and I will never allow you to fall away, ever. Your identity is not dependent on what you do, think, say, and act like. Your identity is dependent on Me. Many may be the days when you resemble nothing of Me. You are growing and the pain of being stretched will seem to mar who you are. But you are forever and always My child and I will get you to glory, no matter what it takes, no matter what it looks like. I am walking you to glory and I am already delighting in you, all that you presently are and all that you are becoming. And I am so patient with you. I am with you, moment by moment. I will walk you through every step from here to glory and I will not rush you or berate you. You are my precious, dearest daughter. You are my treasure.
I wanted to tell myself that I had fallen away. That I was a backslider. A lesser-Christian. You know, those little labels that I have heard Christians place on other Christians who seem to have rejected Christ. Yeah. That.
I can hear my Father laughing. Not mocking. Just the laugh of a Father who can hardly believe that His daughter would ever buy that tripe.
I throw my rags at Him. Look at me! I am hideous! I cannot even bear living with my own self.
He walks me through this day by day, thought by thought, emotion after emotion. My self-hatred, self-flagellation. Pent-up anger, rage, and intense grief and sorrow. Broken dreams. Bitter, cynical thoughts. Burning jealousy and despairing fear. He asks me to talk it all out to Him, every disgusting thought and feeling.
I think, I probably need counseling. I am probably like bipolar, manic depressant, or something.
He says, no, my Spirit counsels you. Don't fear your human propensity to border on the edge of a little mental insanity some days. You are coming loose, every fiber of your being unraveling at what you have had to face about life on earth. But I am holding you so close to Me now. This moment, I have waited for. Every way you thought that I should work and act. Every way that you thought prayer, life in the Spirit, and Christianity should work, look, and be like has crumbled before your eyes. I have waited for this day so that I can show you how much I favor you.
I feel stiff around Him, like He is still expecting something from me. I want grace, but I don't want to have to change. Looks like I just want cheap-grace. Guess I am one of those "Christians" now.
Father laughs again. Again, not mocking. Just warmly amused at my childishness.
What if I told you, He whispers to me, that there is no such thing as cheap grace? There is only grace or no grace. And My grace abounds, to the heathen, to the proud, to the humble, to the broken, to the ungrateful. My question is, will you receive it? Many don't. Even many of those who I have called My own do not receive it very well or very often. Will You allow me to love you? My heart breaks that many won't let Me in, to woo them, to delight in them, to speak into them their new identity with Me. But will you let Me? Will you let Me love you before you sin, when you sin, after you sin? Will you let Me love you and speak My favor over you even after you've spit in My face and pushed Me away? Will you let Me love you to glory no matter what? Will you let My love change you? Not your best efforts or actions or willpower. No, this is on Me. Will you let Me do this in you through the riches of My grace and love through My Son Jesus Christ?
And I think I might let Him love and delight in me. I think, I might try this amazing grace out, as if for the very first time.
How is this year, probably the most painful year of my life to date, crowned with any goodness at all?
Because this was the year my Lord set me free. Not in regards to salvation, which He did years ago when I was just a little girl. This year, He set me free in regards to my sanctification. It was easy to receive the free gift of salvation when it was terribly obvious that I couldn't ever merit it on my own. But sanctification, mmm! For most of my Christian walk, I have been trying to do it, to work for it, to merit it. It is free and guaranteed, just like justification. But I started laying down elaborate standards and expectations like the Law. I put myself (and others) on different levels of maturity and on time-tables with an allotted amount of time to get their act together (even to myself!). Instead of living Free all these years, I put myself underneath the Law and it distorted my view of self, others, and God. I built an entire foundation on preconceived ideas of what the Christian walk and life should look like for myself and others. Even preconceived ideas of how God works or acts, as if I could place expectations on my Creator! He has come in to strip it all away, to announce my freedom boldly and triumphantly. He wants me to know it every single moment I breathe. I am free. I am free. For Christ has set me Free.
In my refusals to acknowledge Him, He is my only Good. He went before me to crown the harsh, painful year of 2014 with the goodness of Himself. He knew of my hurt, my loss, my tears, my disillusionment with life, people, Christianity, and even myself. But in all this, in all this abounding mess, He fervently desires me, seeking to show Himself as good, gracious, and loving to me.
He is more than everything I have ever lost, coming back to my arms. All He is, slowly filling the raw ache of my naked heart.
You Are My Only Good // Misty Edwards //