So often we look at our present failures and are blinded to the reality that who we once were is so far from who we are now. Sometimes the present seems nothing more than an appendage to our past. We look without and within and hardly notice any obvious signs of change. But its only when we start to look in retrospect that we realize the progress of redemption.
Retrospect for the believer is a much-needed antidote that cures the amnesia of the soul. It’s a constant reminder that God saved us from the worst of ourselves and that His work in our lives is an on going process of conforming and transforming us into the image of His son. I have learned in my 16-year journey as a Christian that God does not see me as I am but who I will be. I had to learn this the hard way, but as with many challenges, I grew and allowed that experience to shape my understanding of God.
For years I’ve struggled with spiritual insecurity. My understanding of salvation was that it was precarious at best. I saw my faith as very volatile. I resisted sin in my life not because it was the right thing to do, but because I was afraid of loosing grace.
It all started when I accepted Christ into my life. It was 1997 and I was doing time. At that time I was doing time in Pontiac Correctional Facility. I was an angry person with deep seeded emotional issues, but when I experienced the love of God and the transforming power of his word, I felt like a man who knew his life had been spared. I began to live out my salvation as one who owed a debt.
I was most alive spiritually when I felt as if that debt was being paid. I placed such a strong emphasis on works that to neglect my “spiritual duties” was tantamount to betrayal. I wanted perfection. I needed perfection. The idea of perfection became an obsession and it completely consumed my life. Then one day I found myself giving in to an old sin. The failure devastated me. I became depressed and I felt for sure that God would abandon me. After realizing that I could be forgiven of at least one transgression as a Christian I took up the mantle of salvation and began to commence in my spiritual duties.
The problem was that I continued to fail. I continued to have these moments of relapse and every relapse lead to feelings of unworthiness. Then the questions began, “Am I really saved? These questions opened the door to more sinister accusations that not only challenged my love for God, but His love for me. Then the floodgates opened…”You will never be anything”, “You are a failure” “God hates you” and “God could never use you”. After every lapse of moral courage these voices came in to plant seeds of doubt regarding the work that Christ had started in my life. These lies eventually had a cancerous effect on my faith. I started to believe that I had lost favor with God. With my faith wilting with every lie, I began to see old patterns re-emerge in my life.
Then one day God began to minister to me this passage from the book of Romans “Who shall bring a charge against Gods elect. For it is God who justifies.” These words were the chemo my spirit needed to dispel every lie of the enemy. I no longer needed to feel spiritually insecure. For God saved me knowing the propensities of my heart. He chose me with the perfect knowledge of who I really am. I was able to rest in the fact that God does not love like man. His love is unconditional. Even when He rebukes me for doing wrong it is not to cast me away, but to validate His relationship to me as Father. (Hebrews 12:6).
In closing, regardless of what you’re going through you have to believe that the power of God is at work in your life. You are changing and growing every day because God has invested in your future. Therefore, He will never leave you nor forsake you. Every trial and experience serves as an altar of remembrance to the grace that is working in you to help you overcome every obstacle you may face. The progress of redemption is truly a process but one that will reap an eternal harvest not only in this life but also in the life to come.
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