This is the seventh installment in a series of posts that tell a story. To start at the beginning, click here.
When I began reading God’s Word, I realized I had spent my entire life essentially functioning on a spiritual bartering system. “I do these things for God, He does these things for me.” If you’d asked me then, I never would have said that this was how I was living out my faith. I honestly didn’t even realize it. But I was.
And it wasn’t faith at all. It was the good girl’s gospel, based solely on my own performance, and not at all on God’s mercy.
Who needs mercy when you’re so good at following all the rules?
But when my life didn’t end up the way I thought it would, that entire philosophy fell apart. I hadn’t gotten “rewarded” for all of my good behavior. I hadn’t received the blessings I felt I was due.
And that made me angry.
But when I began to really read Scripture – reading to look for answers to my questions, instead of reading to figure out how to be a better person – I started to see my sin for what it was.
Pride. Entitlement. Arrogance.
I couldn’t stop wrestling. I kept talking with Jon about these things, and reading the Bible to see if he was right. His answers to my questions were so opposite what I had learned growing up. They were way too simple, and was too easy.
But Scripture supported them, and what I found there began to change my life.
I learned that I didn’t choose God, He chose me. And not because of my own good works, which were like filthy rags compared to the perfection of Christ. But because of His goodness.
I learned that I’m not judged by my own righteousness, but by the righteousness of Christ, which completely covers me through salvation.
I learned that I could stop trying so hard, because God’s yoke is easy, and His burden is light. That he calls us to come to Him when we are weary, not to try and save ourselves.
I learned that God never promised ease here on earth. In fact, He promised us trouble! He never told us that comfortable lives were the reward for being a goody-two shoes. He said even Jesus had nowhere to lay his head!
I learned that the Gospel of Christ – the true GOSPEL – changes everything. It takes the burden and pressure and focus off of me, and puts it onto Christ. It reveals a God who loves us sacrificially, who weeps with us, who lays down everything He’s got to save us.
And He saved me.
By the time I had Nathan, the hole that grief had left in my faith was beginning to heal. Slowly, very slowly. I was reading God’s Word & praying again. I was beginning to trust Him.
I began to realize that He was good simply because of who He was and how He’d given me salvation. Understanding that God had never PROMISED an easy life – not anywhere in His Word! – helped me to realize that He’d never actually broken any promises to me. In fact, the one thing He did promise was that He would never leave me or forsake me.
And he delivered on that promise.
Three weeks after Nathan was born, I woke up in the middle of the night completely unable to breathe. I could not get one single breath of air into my lungs, and there was a pain radiating through my back unlike anything I had ever felt. I woke Jon up (by smacking him in a panic), and he figured out what was going on pretty quickly. He rubbed my back with some oils, and it took the edge off enough that I could begin taking shallow breaths. Very shallow breaths.
I remember looking in the mirror on our bedroom wall, as I rested my hands on the dresser in front of me while Jon rubbed the oils into my back. And I remember thinking, “I’m going to die tonight. I’m dying right now.”
We ended up in the emergency room the next day, and it turned out that I had a pulmonary embolism. Two, in fact. Many of you know this story already, because it wasn’t that long ago and you walked through it with me. (If you don’t, you can read that story here.)
I won’t go into all of those details, since we’ve talked about it before, but the very short version is that a blood clot formed as a result of my c-section, traveled through my body to my heart, split into two pieces before passing through my heart, and landed in each of my lungs.
Most blood clots of this type and size land in the heart & get stuck. And kill you instantly.
Mine broke apart. The doctors who treated me told me over and over again that I should have died. That there was no explanation for why the clot broke apart, and they’d never seen anything like that before.
My recovery was excruciatingly painful, and lasted over nine months. But it was also sweet, because I knew deep in my heart that God hadn’t only saved my faith over the last few years. That night, He saved my life, too.
That was the first time I really felt the goodness of the Lord deep within my bones. I should have died, but He saved me. And that realization, along with everything I’d been learning through Scripture, breathed new life into my long-weary soul.
I saw God for who He was. Gracious, compassionate, full of lovingkindness and tender mercy, even to those who didn’t deserve it.
I didn’t deserve it, but He saved me. In so. many. ways.
To be continued…
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