I fell in love, really in love, with Jesus when my father passed away in 2000. I cried out to Jesus for comfort and reassurance that my dad was safely in heaven with him. I asked him for a sign, and then turned to the only place I knew to look—the Bible. I just opened it. On the page was John 14:1-4 (NIV): “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
At that moment, I accepted God as my new Father. I began to live my life in a way that would please him. I attended church regularly. The pastor became a mentor and encouraged me greatly, and I made some great friends.
We started a contemporary worship service, and I started leading worship on alternate Sundays. We used a projector with transparencies and accompaniment CDs. I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life!
Then I started wanting more. Maybe I didn’t love Jesus the same way I did in the beginning. Maybe I began to deflect God’s unconditional love. My behavior outside of the church caused the leaders to ask me to step down from leading worship. I was crushed in spirit.
I was unable to get past that hurt for years. It separated me from the sunlight of the Spirit of God, as well as the fellowship of people who really loved and cared for me. I wasn’t able to make any lasting changes until I was willing to forgive and repent. I thought I wanted to be right, when I really just needed to be loved.
The thing is, we are all human, flawed beyond belief! Yet God loves us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his only Son on the cross for our sins. No, we are not perfect, but we worship a perfect God. God’s grace allows us to get back on when we fall off track. If I were perfect, I wouldn’t need that grace, and neither would you.
Have you been hurt by someone close to you? Perhaps you were even hurt by the church? Have you asked God to help you find forgiveness?
Father in heaven, I would pray that no one would be closed off from your Spirit simply because they are unwilling. I pray that the willingness will come. I pray that each of us will let our light shine as Christians and not be paralyzed by our inadequacy, that we would be open to exchange ideas and understanding of the book you have so eloquently placed your word in. Help us to love one another as you have loved us. In Jesus’ name, amen.
This post was written by Julie Estep. Julie loves her husband John and their combined five adult children and four grandchildren. Her favorite activities are walking their two dogs and golfing. She loves sharing her faith and is grateful for the chance to be a LIO contributor.
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