So, you tried this Christian, thing, and it didn’t work out? You couldn’t give up partying, or living with your girlfriend, or a thousand little “unethical” things you might do every day, or facing an unforgiving church with that big ole chip on your shoulder? If you feel that way, welcome to the club I was a member of for about two decades! I attended church, but I did not “fit in” in my opinion.
Charles Spurgeon said, “We can never be happy, restful, or spiritually healthy till we become holy.”
Huh. Maybe, like me, you wonder: how can I be holy when I just can’t stop doing [insert sins here?]
I was saved when I was nine years old, and not because a sibling or friend did it, or because I would finally get to partake in the Lord’s Supper (also called communion). I was saved because God literally pulled me down that aisle. So, as you can imagine, I had not a clue what being a Christian is all about. I was really happy for a little while, and then things went back to normal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rededicated my life to Him. Not that it’s a bad idea, and not that I won’t ever do it again – it’s just that there were no lasting results.
I never felt pure or holy. Therefore, I felt like God’s love wasn’t for me. That I was the one exception to His rule of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and boundless love. What a flippin’ idiot I was.
Charles Spurgeon also said, “The old nature is very strong, and they have tried to curb and tame it; but it will not be subdued, and they find themselves, though anxious to be better, if anything growing worse than before.”
Amen, Mr. Spurgeon! A Southern lady is taught to be gentle, well-dressed, and well-spoken, with a quiet demeanor – especially in front of her man and other men. A Southern lady, by those definitions, I will pretty much never be unless God gives me some sort of personality lobotomy.
So, I tried to be quiet. Which, for me, meant literally not talking. That was the only way, I could see, that I wouldn’t put my over-opinionated, too-passionate big foot in my big fat mouth. And guess what happened? I got so stinkin angry! It wasn’t in my God-given nature to sit quietly and not contribute to the conversations around me.
Should I become more gentle and less mouthy? Sure! Hey, I want that as well. But I am not meant to be a Melanie. I’m more like Scarlett, unfortunately. (That’s a Gone with the Wind reference for all you non-Southerners).
And then, one day, God turned the tables on my whining and said to me, “Well? So what if you are too much like Scarlett? That’s how you’ve survived to this point in your life! And besides, Scarlett got things done!”
Huh. Point taken Mr. Big Man!
So that leads me to: what happens now? Charles Spurgeon, bless him, has an answer for that! “Justification without sanctification would be no salvation at all.” I believe the Bible describes sanctification as separation from sin. But, I gave my heart and soul to Christ, and yet I’m a big ole sinner! So what does that mean about my salvation? That it didn’t count?
I’ve heard lots of people say they don’t want to go to church because they don’t want to be judged. What a big, fat, whopping load of bull shiznit that is! You don’t want to go because you fear the conviction of God which you’ve already experienced, and it made you feel bad about yourself! Well, that’s kinda the point – conviction is meant to stir you to confession and repentance, where you then drop guilt and shame over your sinful life.
Why is it a newsflash that churches are full of sinful people? It was for me. It happened about three years ago, maybe, when I realized the other couples in our small-group didn’t have perfect marriages either, and I wasn’t the only wife who felt frustrated and sad and lonely and angry! Or that my husband wasn’t the only one who didn’t completely, at all times, in all situations, adore his perfect wife!
Life is strange, it moves too fast or too slow, and it sometimes just does not make sense. I always say that Christ doesn’t promise us a perfect life; He promises us a perfect life in Him. That doesn’t mean that once you give your heart to Him, all your problems would diminish and eventually disappear; instead, it means that He will help you through them.
Some more Spurgeon: “The Lord knows right well that you cannot change your own heart, and cannot cleanse your own nature.” Figured that out already, did you? Lost hope and faith, did you? Well, keep that chin up and get right with the Lord again! “But He also knows He can do both. It is well worthy of consideration that when the Lord takes away the stony heart, that deed is done; and when that deed is done, no known power can ever take away that new heart which He gives, and that right spirit which He puts within us.”
So, what does that really mean? It means that what seems impossible is true: I’ve had a pure heart since I was nine years old, even when my faith was hanging by a thread, when I had turned away from the Lord – no matter how far I roamed, that pure, holy, clean heart was still beating, though its sound was faint. That means that yours is too, if you have accepted Christ into your heart and life.
What is faith, anyway, but the belief in something we cannot see? That doesn’t just apply to Christ; that applies to what we can’t see in our own lives! I can’t see much Melanie but I can sure see plenty of Scarlett. I can’t see much patience, but I can sure see a lot of selfishness. Does that mean I will never become the godly woman God wants me to be? No! It means I’m just not her yet. That’s all. You’re not who you’re meant to be yet, either. But Christians, of all people in the world, can’t be quitters. Yet another reason to be thankful for my Scarlett-esque tendencies: that woman was built on stubborn determination, and if ever there was a time for that, it is now!