Today marks 14 years since I decided to follow Jesus. I was sitting in church on Easter and the pastor explained salvation in a way that clicked in my 7-year-old mind. After I made the decision, I remember feeling the weight of sin’s power lift away. I even felt physically lighter inside, like I could float away. That first day, I knew there had been a change in me and He was present in my life.
In the years following that, I slipped into the belief that yes, He had saved me that day, but after that, it was up to me to keep it that way. Following God was an exhausting duty I put on myself to be good. It was miserable to live with the belief that I could never fail and, when I did, God was watching me in utter disappointment. Of course, I constantly failed.
I lived in a relationship with Him but it was cold and distant, strangled by fear and shame.
He didn’t let me stay that way, though. He met me where I was. When I was about 15, I was sitting on the rug in my room like I always did to read the Bible in my dry and lifeless way — to simply check it off my to do list to appease Him and get on with my day. Dry and lifeless was how everything felt when it came to following God. What was the point?
That specific time, there was a moment when it felt like time stood still and I felt as if He said, “I just want to be with you.”
That was the point — to be with Him. The point of following Him had been choked away by my dependence on myself. In my self-righteous pride, I was making it all about me and what I did, whether that was good or bad.
Take away all the good works, all the attempts to never sin, all the striving to please, all the things I thought would make me worthy, and there was just me. And my flaws. And my messes. My weakness. My fear and my shame. That’s who He wanted. That’s who He loved.
He wanted me to spend time with Him as that true, utterly powerless version of myself. Then, He would be the one empowering my life and giving me the ability to choose the good. The pressure was off of me because He had taken it that day I decided to follow Him.
I was free. I just didn’t know it.
I still wrestle with attempting to live life on my own, the way I want to, in my own strength, every day. It’s only when I stop wrestling and let Him fight for me that I find true freedom — freedom to follow Him imperfectly. Freedom to mess up every day, but still be with Him and still be loved by Him.
And that’s the point. That’s what it’s all about.
P.S. This is actually the short version. The version with all the details is in the works, so stay tuned.