Thursday, July 25, 2013

Refreshed By His Grace

Saul earned the right to boast about his accomplishments, didn't he?  As a young boy, he became well rehearsed in the Jewish laws and traditions.  He understood what was expected of him and strove to live up to those standards.  As an educated man, he rose to high ranks among the Pharisees.

Yet, on the road to Damascus with a letter in his hand from the Roman authorities to rid the earth of those following The Way, Saul encountered a blinding light.  From it he heard the words, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"

Dumbfounded and clueless he inquired from the voice an identity.  He discovered the confrontation came directly from Jesus Christ.  Saul’s traveling companions saw nothing but heard the message delivered to Saul regarding his persecution of Christ’s followers.  

In those moments, Saul completely surrendered his heart and life to Jesus and from then on became known as Paul. His life took a hundred and eighty turn that day, and he never swayed from that decision. However, blinded by his encounter with Jesus he received instructions to head for the home of Ananias where he received his sight again.

We see from Paul’s pre-salvation days that he faithfully served as a Pharisee, and yet he was deceived by his life of religion.  He lived by Jewish traditions but actually fit the same category as the men who became angry with Jesus when He said, “You are like white-washed tombs, clean on the outside, but like dead bones on the inside.”

In the years that followed, Paul went from being the persecutor to the persecuted.  Many sought after him and strove to hinder his deliverance of the Gospel message.  They imprisoned him, beat him, stoned him, and eventually killed him.  Paul’s letters to the various churches during his ministry years provided us insight to not only what he endured, but how he responded to it.  

Many distrusted Paul at first, and some could never get past who he had been prior to his salvation, but Jesus transformed this man.  He learned the secrets to contentment regardless of his circumstance and a peace that surpassed understanding.

Some of the most difficult years in my Christian walk came during my husband’s third ministry.  The on-going tension of this particular ministry and the challenge of dealing with my troubled teenagers and young adults at the same time caused me to return to many of my childhood insecurities and patterns.  

Granted, during some of those years I sought professional Christian counseling and even overcame several inner battles from the past during that time.  Unfortunately, I still slipped back into some of my old destructive ways of dealing with too much drama in my life at one time.  As my insecurities resurfaced, with it returned my unhealthy ways of handling my relationships, circumstance, and responsibilities.  

A spirit of condemnation hovered over me.  I believed many times my life became about religion, and I lost focus on my relationship with Jesus.  I eventually came to a place where I seriously considered ditching the church and Christianity all together, but then would remember that only Jesus could offer me the words of life.

When my husband finally took a six month sabbatical from this almost eleven years ministry, it became apparent that this was absolutely necessary for my own emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.   We both hoped by the end of the sabbatical we both would be strengthened enough to return it, and in time see the Lord do great and mighty things in and through this ministry.

Thankfully, within six weeks of the sabbatical, I healed enough to be free of my anxiety and depression medications.  During this time the Lord brought several godly women into my life who walked beside me as I battled the lies of the enemy regarding my failures as a pastor's wife.  I slowly began to recognize the way my circumstances caused me to fall into some terribly unhealthy and often times destructive patterns.  

Together with the love of Jesus pouring from them, they pointed me toward my Source of truth and helped me tackle the lies regarding my value as a wife, mother, friend, and believer.  Through several Bible studies the Lord addressed my  issues regarding my significance.  He also reminded me of the freedom found when we walk according to the fruit of the Spirit instead of our emotions.  In time I started to grasp the reality of how Christ's death on the cross for my salvation proved my worth and value.

Now, over a year later, I praise Jesus for His work not only in my life, but in my husband and several of my children, too. In the words of Jason Gray, I can honestly say that, "In the hands of my Redeemer, nothing is wasted."  His work is far from done, but I love and appreciate the person who looks back at me in the mirror each morning now.  I am indeed a child of the One True King.

How about you?  Do you understand as Robert S. McGee says in his book, "Search For Significance" that you are "deeply loved, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, totally accepted by God, and complete in Christ"?  He wants you to know the freedom that comes with knowing who you are because of Jesus living in you.  Like Paul, He wants us to put our past behind us and live in a healthy relationship with Him.

If you have any questions or want me to pray for you about something specific, please email me at