January 30th 2013: It will soon become 1 year since I got baptised and made the decision that I’d commit to Christ for the rest of my life, but *sighs*, the past year has been quite a struggle to do just that, COMMIT. This is something I was hoping would have been the best decision of my life. It had me thinking “well why say you’re going to do something if you know you’re not ready?” And it’s true, I never actually really felt like I was 100% ready at the time, I kept holding back telling myself when I’m ready I’ll commit to God, when I’m a bit better. Sometimes it was even “I don’t think I could actually live this Godly lifestyle.” But the truth of the matter is if I was waiting to be ready, and waiting to be perfect, then I would have been waiting a long time.
It was a decision I decided to make after I had began to study the bible in early April/May 2012, with sisters from my church, and fallen in love with God’s word and what he did for me through the death of Jesus on the cross. My decision to get baptised was actually my response to God, to his love which he so clearly displayed to me, I surrendered, to his relentless pursuit of a relationship with me. After long months of ungratefully resisting what I felt to be such a weight of pursuit, I finally came to a place where I was humbled and actually saw my need for God, and I surrendered. It was all or nothing, do I want to live for God or live for me? That was what he was calling me to do, to drop everything and follow him.
This was the ultimatum I was faced with, I had already been living for me, making decisions on my own, living a contradicting life, believing one thing but acting the total opposite to what I believed in. Convinced that I was already a good christian yet still chose to be bound to my sins and insecurities, until it reached a point where they became so burdensome, that I simply could not deal with any more. I knew enough was enough, I needed to give my life to Christ, I wanted to. I knew how my life was without him, and I could not continue living the same way; bound to so many inward sins, the ones people never saw. The sin conceived in my heart far outweighed my outward and what about my insecurities? These were too much for me to carry, insecurities which came from comparison, living for the approval of men, of people whose opinions weren’t relevant, people I didn’t even know that well, my looks, failed relationships, and just the position I was at in life at the time.
All in all there was a void, and I began to feel the need to have that void filled, not just by anything, (I tried many things already) but by something satisfying, fulfilling and real. The decision I made was to live for God. I was challenged by a sister to “put God first, give him a try” which I did. This was a decision I not only chose to make but also had to act upon and I guess that was the bit I really wasn’t ready for, the hard part. Making a decision to serve God required me to do things differently, and to actually live in faith.
I learnt that I couldn’t just serve God on my own terms. He has standards; SO IMPORTANT, as I so often used to lean on my own understanding even though I knew nothing. I learnt that I had to pray, and seek him through scriptures, I HAD to be discipled by people I hadn’t’t even known that long, because there was (and still is) no way I could do this on my own. I learnt that it was important for me to go out to bible studies and to go out of my comfort zone and share my faith with people, the things I was learning, be open and vulnerable. I learnt that I had to repent constantly, from all kinds of sins such as laziness, pride, selfishness, lying and immorality, these were my biggest sins that I continued to struggle with because they were sooo natural to me. I learnt that I had to deny myself daily to follow Christ Mark 8:34, and although I love God, this was all just becoming a struggle for me. In life anything that requires effort on my behalf is always somewhat a struggle, which is why I found doing ALL these things that I mentioned this year to be really difficult. A lot of the time, most of these things I found myself not doing. But these were requirements from God, it will have to cost me something. I also found it hard to really make friends with the different personalities in the church, I felt like I couldn’t be friends with people who I had nothing in common with, people I felt so unspiritual around (if that’s even a word lol). I was finding it hard to find my feet in the church of believers but one thing I came to know through the following scripture: Galatians3:28, is that we all have 1 thing in common and that is our love for Jesus. Christ and our desire to know and to be like him. We are all running the same race, it’s just that we are in different lanes.
- There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus – Galatians 3:28
This was enough to encourage me that I was in the right place and with the right group of people I just need to build friendships with them and love them as God required me to
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. – 1st Corinthians 1:10
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:14
so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.- Romans 15:6
One morning I woke up earlier than usual, couldn’t sleep, I was feeling low about how much I had actually struggled, as a Christian and the fact that it’s coming up to a year since I gave my life and I haven’t done much as a Christian. I was up early hours of the morning and this kept playing on in my mind, I felt like the Holy Spirit was trying to reach out to me at this particular time. He showed me how I was trying to live a Christian life yet was still trying to hold on to old bits of my past life. I couldn’t commit fully to God because I didn’t fully deny myself or let go completely of my old ways and wasn’t fighting hard enough to deny my sinful nature and allow Jesus to truly be Lord in my life. I repented from a couple obvious sins but not my inward ones, the sin lurking in my heart such as: lies, malice, deceit, pride and selfishness, impurity. How could I, someone who had always been in control of everything my actions, words, thoughts, now come to a place where I wasn’t in control anymore? How could someone as stubborn as me submit to a God I haven’t even seen? How could I trust him? Couldn’t I just love him in my heart and continue life as normal? These questions were all as u can see, focused on me, myself and my inabilities and not on God. This just proved to show I didn’t have enough faith in the one I decided to have a relationship with in the first place. I lacked gratitude for the saviour who even saw me as worthy of His pursuit. My lack of faith was down to me focusing on myself and doubting my abilities which was silly because the bible even says our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6 There’s nothing more I could or couldn’t do that would have changed what God had already done and that was the biggest demonstration of his unconditional love, when he died on the cross. It was then, that same morning that the Holy Spirit revealed to me, I have to fix my ever changing, sinful and unstable, heart on the one who has already done more than what I could ever do and given far more than anything I could give, the one who’s love is true and never changes. Hebrews 12:2.
There’s one part of the bible that was preached so much at church this year which was John 15(verses:1-17 in particular) and I was encouraged every time it was shared, especially as I was constantly being reminded through it; that if I truly remained in him (his word, and in his body – the church, community of disciples), yes I would be pruned and it will be painful (verse 2, Lord knows I’ve felt it) but if I repent and make the conscious decision to remain in him regardless, I will become better. The fruits will begin to show, and God will ultimately be glorified In my life. Not doing these things as mere deeds but doing them to seek him and keep him as my main focus in life.
Earlier I said I felt like I haven’t achieved much and that’s because it says in the same chapter verse 5: “…if you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” I made the decision to get baptised but that didn’t mean anything if I didn’t make the daily, conscious decision to actually abide in God. I did not invest much of my time and I began to see the effects it was having on me personally the main one being that there was no growth.
OK, let me not be so tough on myself, I have grown a little bit since, I have definitely come to know God and Jesus as not only my father and saviour but also as my security. After having put my security in different things in the past, I can truly say now that I know who I am in Christ and I have found my identity in him. God has been and still is, working on my character to be more patient with others and less selfish and more giving, to start seeing the best in people, to be more open towards his teaching, and even be humble enough to receive rebuke, to be bold and not shy. Because I have a new found confidence which is not in myself but in him. I know I have a lot more growing to do, these things do take time but I don’t want to waste any more time. Earlier, I also said I thought this would have been the best decision of my life. I now know that this IS and could STILL be the best decision of my life if I choose to make the best out of and fully embrace everything he has given me. His Son, the cross, His word, His disciples and His church. By allowing myself to fall in love with him over and over, withholding nothing. The only way really and truly is by personally connecting with him through his word and prayer.
2nd Peter 1:3-4: His divine power has given us everything we need for a Godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
I have come to the conclusion that, I’d rather have the toughest walk with God than to not walk with him at all!
If you are finding your walk with God to be really tough, I encourage you to persevere by making every effort to enter and remain on the narrow path, as tough and as uncomfortable as it may seem now, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will experience comfort and it will get easier!