Matthew 7:21,23 “Not everyone who calls out to me, “Lord, Lord! Will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. (23) But I will reply, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.”
Psalm 119:71 “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”
Romans 2:4 “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”
James 5:19,20 “My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins. “
Romans 8:26-27 “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. “
I realize you might find this an odd collection of verses, but I promise it will make sense to you by the end. One of the things that God is showing me I am good at is being able to weave ideas together in a way that makes sense to people. Not only does it make sense to my readers, but I usually end up finding a bit more clarity on something for myself. I never knew about preaching to yourself until the Pandemic hit, and I had very little opportunity for conversations with people. I began to talk to myself a lot. I find that amusing also, so if you just laughed at me, don’t feel bad. I also noticed when I read God’s word out loud he decides to talk to me through it…so before you think I am puffing myself up as a writer, I assure you…these are God’s works. Not mine. I just think maybe he finds it fun to watch me type out his ideas.
In my very first blog, “Just Wild, Nobody’s Child” I tell you that I gave my life to Jesus at a very young age. In the blog “I AM THE STORM” I talk about going to the Heart Hospital church and doing devotions and praying for my young sons. What I didn’t tell you is that at this point in my life, I spent every day in God’s Word struggling to feel something. Anything. Just one thing that would let me know I was on the right track in my walk with God. I never found the Holy Spirit during that time. I had given my life to God and tried to be what the rules of the Bible said I should be, but I found more condemnation and loneliness in the words that I read than I did anything else. I prayed for God to make me more like him, for him to make people love me, for him to love my sons, and for him to take care of the people at my church. I didn’t pray for forgiveness or a “soul change” or a Jesus sighting for myself, because I had heard that praying for things for yourself was selfish.
Fast forward to a few months ago. When I prayed my Queen Latifah prayer and asked the Holy Spirit to give me what I needed to not have to walk around carrying this albatross of pain and misery with me everywhere I went, I told God that I didn’t know what I needed. He did and I just wanted him to show me…to make something make sense this time. He answered that prayer. I’m not sure why my prayer “worked” when it did or why God seemed to be not interested in speaking to me or giving me any hope in the early days of being a mother, but I am grateful that I have his voice now.
I was reading a book called “The Battle Even Kings Lost” by Raul F. Moreno and a passage that he wrote really made me mad. I have learned over the past few months that when something makes me that mad, I need to dissect it and find out why. So, I did that. It starts with 2 Peter 2:20-21 “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end then they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” Moreno says there are 2 out of 3 categories of Christians that can come back and be restored to God. The first are those that are never converted and here is where I got mad.
He says those who were never converted were “those who did not belong to Christ because they did not have the Holy Spirit that were false Christians who “faked” their conversions just to be part of the church and consequently they never received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Technically, these church members are not fallaways because they never were in the church in the first place. They need to come back to the church and study the Bible and be properly converted.” He goes on to say the second category are those Christians who wandered away leading to spiritual death. Once this type of Christian repents, a multitude of their sins are covered, meaning they are forgiven. (James 5:19,20)
Now, when I thought about it, I got mad because he used the word “fake” to describe the first category of Christians. Looking back on all the praying, church functions and services, counseling with my pastor, and Bible reading and prayer groups I attended there was nothing fake about my intention. I was truly trying to find something that resembled the God that my Christian friends had. I didn’t know that when you find the Holy Spirit things begin to feel different. I didn’t know that God actually talked (except to really religious people that he gave all the rules to or people like Pastor Doctor that sat around and read the Bible all day long and went to Bible college and had it explained to him. Please understand that I am going off of what I thought I knew so, no “religious people” aren’t the only ones that God tells the rules to and no, Pastor Doctor doesn’t sit in his office all week just reading his Bible and ignoring the outside world and the plight of those that belong to his church family. This is how I viewed things.)
I wasn’t faking anything in the sense that I was looking and searching for God. I was searching for something that would change the perception I had of him and of the religion that I had grown up in and been rejected by. What I didn’t know was that those were not the same things. I was being rejected by people and not by God. I was rejecting myself and I didn’t know that either. When I read that passage about being a fake Christian, I recognized one of the things that Satan has really been able to get away with when it comes to me. I am not a fake Christian. I just didn’t know that the Holy Spirit was capable of filling in the gaps in my heart that made it impossible for me to love, not only myself but others, very well. Satan adds just enough truth to his lies to get you to believe that the whole thing is the way he wants you to view it.
Not knowing you aren’t full of the Holy Spirit is sort of like not knowing what it is like to have a broken bone or be in love. You can think you broke something or think you fell in love, but until you actually experience either of those things and know without a shadow of any doubt that that is what you are dealing with, how do you know that the “false alarms” weren’t the real thing? Now that I know without any doubt, without any fear, without any confusion that what I have is the real deal, I know that I did not have the Holy Spirit before. I think sometimes that knowing what you don’t have is just as important as knowing what you do have. If you don’t know you don’t have something and you don’t know you need it, how are you supposed to find help to get it? You can’t.
In my twenties I kept a prayer journal. I threw it away during the Pandemic stay at home order because it made me sad to read the words of the girl that had no clue what she was praying for. That girls sounded so empty and hollow and misinformed I couldn’t believe we were the same person. There were no prayers for her heart, for her broken…not in over two years of writing to God almost every single night. None. She didn’t think she deserved to even pray for her own heart, so she filled page after page with prayers for other people. Other people deserved God’s blessings, his healing, his love, and his grace…but she didn’t think enough of herself to pray for those things for her heart. I realized at the end of writing “Not Fragile Like a Flower, Fragile Like a Bomb” that things have changed. I am still that girl, and she still tells me stories about times we were afraid. I take those stories to God and God tells me what to tell her. God fills in the gaps and giant gaping wounds in the soul of that girl and every time I see her, she looks more and more like the me I know now. She didn’t know that she didn’t have the Holy Spirit and the older me that comforts her didn’t know either. I didn’t know she needed something until God gave it to me. She never asked why, and I didn’t know that she was allowed to. I didn’t know that that girl and who I am now both needed to ask why so God could answer instead of listening to the hollow, empty despair of a heart unloved. This was the first revelation that God gave me in preparing to write this post.
What made me so uncomfortable about being called fake is that I think that Jesus would have been speaking to me if I had been unfortunate enough to die before 2020. He would have said “I never knew you”. I had been living my life only taking the first step of salvation. The very first baby step of Christian salvation is to believe that Jesus died for our sins. Not thinking about what that means, you can spend 20 or more years just sitting there at the base of the Cross getting bored and lonely with the world around you because the others that have accepted that same salvation and promise have long since walked away.
I don’t know why God revealed this to me now instead of then. I do know that his timing is perfect and there were things he wanted to show me throughout the time he was waiting and trying to show me how much he really does love me. As he does with many things, he decided one revelation on this wasn’t enough. The other thing he revealed to me is that I like to discredit people’s entire works when I don’t like one thing they say. If you are guilty of this too, please read this next part carefully.
I almost stopped reading “The Battle Even Kings Lost” because there were several statements I didn’t agree with. I’m not saying that I changed my mind. This is a great book and happened to be a great source of help to me on a bunch of different topics that I struggle with every day. But had I thrown it out based on a few principles I didn’t get or like the way they were written I would have missed the relief that God had hidden for me in the rest of Moreno’s writing. It occurred to me that we do that a lot, not just as people, but as Christians. I know I am not the only one guilty of not listening to someone just because they say something I don’t like or agree with. I talked about the Pharisees in my last post…but what you may have missed is that much of what the Pharisees said was right. There was a lot of truth in their words, but their hearts were not what God wanted. I can argue with the laws all I want, but that doesn’t make them less true just because the Pharisees were hypocrites. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that you listen to everyone that speaks to you on every topic available. I am saying that when we throw out someone’s whole entire thought or writing, we might be missing something that God intended for us to see. I am not a perfect person and I learn things in a different manner then many people. I’m sure that some “religious” people don’t like my writing. That’s fine. I didn’t write it for them. They don’t have the authority to discredit me. However, if you throw out everything I write based on one truth I might get wrong (or more than one) then you might miss the reason you were drawn to it in the first place. I’m not saying I am right about everything. I pray and seek God’s help every single time I sit down to write. And many times, what you read is the result of months of studying and writing and rewriting. Other times, it is the result of a really good prayer session and the words fly out of my fingers so fast I swear that I’m not even the one doing the writing. But, if we get hung up on a name, or the fact that someone doesn’t fast right or they speak a different way about something God showed them and we don’t understand it, maybe we should consider that God doesn’t need that part of their story to resonate with us. Maybe it isn’t for us, and it just may be the writer is wrong. We put a lot of stock in people and what they have to say. I read a lot of Christian authors and I listen to 6 pastors regularly on Youtube from churches around the nation. Not one of them is God and so I do ask God to show me when there is something that may not be correct about the way they are speaking about something. What I have found is that he can usually (okay always) change their words into what I understand so that I can find my own definition of who he is the way he wants me to see it. It doesn’t change the definition of him but it changes the way I am able to understand what the other person was trying to say and the truth God wants me to find.
Guess what? None of us are perfect. I noticed that a lot of times Christians like to say things like “you’ll know who they are by their fruit” and point out something that another person has done that supports a lack of production. And sometimes they are right. But here’s the thing. We all do things that make it look like we aren’t producing fruit in one way or another. We all have deficiencies that God is working on within us. A.W. Tozer calls these our crosses to bear. In his book, “I Talk Back to the Devil” he talks about A.B. Simpson describing the different crosses we carry. He quotes, “God wants His children to know the cross. It seems that He makes our crosses of all the things we like the best so that when they turn to bitterness, we are able to learn the true measure of eternal values. He may make them of iron and lead which are heavy of themselves. He makes some of straw which seem to weigh nothing, but one discovers that they are no less difficult to carry. A cross that appears to be made of straw so that others think it amounts to nothing may be crucifying you through and through. He makes some with gold and precious stones which dazzle spectators and excite the envy of the public, but which crucify no less than crosses which are more despised.” Tozer adds, “Christians who are put in high places, Christians who are entrusted with wealth and influence, know something about that kind of cross.”
Think about that for a second. We are all different Christians. We love different things, we explore different things, we gravitate towards different things and we all sin with different things. We all fall and we all sin, no matter how much we don’t like to do it or even admit it. But, I think it is important to note that if I throw out everything someone says based on a few examples that I could learn elsewhere I am negating the work that God is giving me in order to show me something I need to see in my own life. Sometimes, our wrong answers are just as important as the right ones. If I say something that is out of line for you in your walk with God, then by all means please stop reading my blog and find something that God wants to use to heal or help you in the direction he wants you to take. But, if you pray about it and I just say a wrong thing here or there or you just don’t agree with something that I say, please don’t discount the message for the way I phrase it. I am not perfect, and I am learning as I go, the same as we all are. I don’t agree with everything my 6 pastors say, nor what every Christian author writes. However, when I pray about the things that I feel the “press” from God to dig deeper into, then I learn something he wants me to know.
Looking back on the past twenty years and realizing that I had never truly become a Christ follower is a tough swallow. I wasn’t a Christian (which means Christ follower) because I didn’t go anywhere in my faith. I sat there, at the base of the Cross, doing nothing to find him within myself and not asking him to fill the holes that people had torn inside of me. I didn’t know I was supposed to. I was a Believer in the very smallest semblance of the word because I have almost always believed that Jesus died on the cross to save all of us from our sins. I don’t know if God would have considered me much of a testimony for his glory before I became a true follower because all that sat at the foot of the Cross was a broken and scared, hurting and hurtful soul who didn’t know how to pray and couldn’t find any strength or faith to be healed by God. I didn’t know there was more to being a Christian, so I had no idea that he would not consider me to be one of his. Now, I am not positive that God would have rejected me as someone he didn’t know before a year ago, but I don’t think I can go back to taking that chance anymore. Having the Holy Spirit now I understand that God can change us from the inside out, not the outside in. I wouldn’t give that back for anything. I may not have liked what I lived through and who I became at times, but I know that the parts of me that I still don’t like, God loves. God loves those parts because to him they mean something greater than what I can see. Those wrong decisions and all that pain are becoming a story that he saw as beautiful way before I did. My soul was uglier three years ago then it ever was in my teens or in my twenties or even beyond that, but for some reason God’s love for me has multiplied so much that now I can’t walk around for very long at all before he is sending me some sign to let me know that I am always on his mind. For whatever reason this time, when I pray and even sometimes when I am not, his words come back to me and I can feel him walking around with me and living life and holding my hand. He knows there is much of me that is still hurting and yet he makes it possible for me to step out in faith and go where he asks me to go. He understands the things my heart hurts about…and he is very patient in teaching me that those things will be healed in a way I never could have imagined if I let him have them. The fear I have lessens just a little bit and I have just a little more faith in the hope of the promises that he has for me. I may not know what his promises are or what they mean for my personal life, but I know that God does and that is enough. That hope is just a little more freedom, a lot more love, a little less stress, a little more confidence and a little more peace, even in a world that rages with turmoil around me, and an unsure compass about where my future is taking me. What the Holy Spirit gives me is the strength, the faith, the love and the comfort that he knows I need to be able to say “Okay, Father, if this is what you want for me right now, then as long as you hold my hand I will go.” He’s showing me how to trust him and get up from the base of the cross and go…broken heart and ugly sins on board. He takes all of me at my worst so that he can turn it into his best version of me. And with every little step I take with him, he shows me that I can rest easy. He does in fact, know me.