Monday, June 20, 2011

Looking Back

It never ceases to amaze me how God shares these little glimpses of detail with me as I sit with Him each morning. Sometimes it relates to a current situation and sometime it is an answer to a question that I have struggled with for years. This morning a question of ten years, possibly even twenty-two years happened. The question being "God what happened to me at 12 yrs old? Was that confession to receive Jesus Christ as my Savior real?"
You see I recall that confession on the carpet at a friend's church and I recall being a 12 year old girl who stayed up until 10pm at night to watch the old Joel Osteen. I recall taking notes like mad. I recall going up the isle at my own family's small church to go forward in believer's baptism. Then I recall falling away, and further away, and further away until I finally lost all assurance of salvation.
Then I recall at the age of 24 going forward in the church in which I now serve and something in me changing. Something in me changing to the point that I have never again been able to turn away or fall away from my Lord, not even for a short time.
As I sat this morning outside with my God, pouring over Isaiah chapter 36, an evening 22 years ago popped into my mind. On this particular evening I was in Wednesday night discipleship training. Now we had a small church, so if you were in 7th grade through early college you were all in the same room for Wednesday night Bible study. We were discussing a subject about how we were to live as Christians in the world. I recalled reading a passage of Scripture that said we were to be in the world but not of the world. As I shared this, one of the upper high school girls turned around and loudly proclaimed how that was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard. That I might not be of this world but she and everyone else was most certainly of the world. She continued to huff and roll her eyes at me as I sat there alone no one backing me up. I recall looking at the man who was our teacher and he too sat silent.
Here's the thing, I knew what I had read. So I spent the next hour digging in my Bible trying to find that passage that I knew I had read. I found it. There it was in red in John 15:19 in my King James Version Bible that my grandmother had given me, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
I happened to be sitting on the same row with my teacher and yes I recall sitting alone while the older group that mocked me earlier sat a couple of rows in front of me. So I passed my Bible over to my teacher with the passage marked to show him I was not crazy. He looked at my Bible and nodded his head and never said a word. I looked up to where those who mocked me sat and waited for him to correct them. He did not, at least not to my knowledge.
I think that possibly at this very moment Satan knew I would be a force to be reckoned with. I look back on this moment and I believe that God has showed me this morning that this moment was my Peter and Jesus moment. This was when Jesus said, "Nicole, Nicole, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31)
You see when I "turned again" at the age of 24 my passion has been to strengthen my brothers and sisters in Christ with the Truth. You see it was the Truth that set me free. It was trusting in the Truth that gave me the confidence to even "turn again". By faith I accepted that what God had spoken, He meant.
My confidence is not in myself, my confidence is in God and His Word. I am a warrior for the Word. I am a stickler for correct interpretation and for actually believing what God said, as He said it, the way He said it. It may not make sense to my human heart. It may not seem possible to my human eyes. It may sound harsh, rude, impossible, too easy, it doesn't matter. If I have studied the context and am certain that according to the Word this is the Holy Spirit led course of action then it is too be taken.
I have learned that I am to obey God's Word and leave the consequences of my obedience to Him. I have found in my life that consequences from my obedience are much easier to bear than consequences from my disobedience.
I am thankful that God has grown me and my husband in His Word and has strengthened us both. When a hard decision must be made, we always seek guidance from the Word. We pray. Then no matter the difficulty of the decision we have peace.
I didn't realize as this 12 year old girl, that God was showing me a glimpse of who I would be in Him. I would be a woman who would receive eye rollings, who would receive blank stares, who would receive answers like, "but that's easier said than done". I would hear "I know the Bible says this but..."
I went through 12 years of wilderness before God brought me into the land. Now I am in the valley, I do not yet have my entire inheritance. I do, however, have the pledge of it, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and with this Pledge, I confidently fight the good fight. I teach the Word in season and out of season. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God... and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." (John 1:1,14)
I love the Word. I know that it is Truth. I study it. I act on it. I pray that God would use me to proclaim it, because I know His Word never fails. I know the Word of God is the only weapon I have and the only weapon I will ever need to defeat the enemy. To study the Word, is to study Jesus. He is the Word made flesh. I study His Word. I study Him. I believe His Word. I believe Him.
So what happened to me at 12 yrs of age? I believe God showed me today that my confession was real. I was Peter at the last supper when he cried out for Jesus to wash all of him and Jesus replied you are already clean, I just need to wash your feet, then I was Peter who would later deny my Savior and be sifted like wheat, but then would return and my Lord would ask, "Do you love Me?" I would say as Peter, "Yes Lord you know all things, You know I love You." To which my Jesus would say, "Feed my sheep"
Now in turning again Peter still made mistakes as He served His Lord and Savior, but he received correction and forgiveness and moved on. However, never again would he turn his back on his Lord and deny Him.
At 24, I returned again to serve my Lord. I have made many mistakes. I have received correction and forgiveness. I pray, that as Peter never again turned his back on His Lord, neither will I. One day at a time I walk in faithfulness. One day at a time I trust His Word for today. I forget what lies behind and press forward to what lies ahead.
I judge my relationship with Jesus according to today not yesterday. I thank God that He humored me with this glimpse into my past with Him, but I have learned to never place a stake in the ground of my past and use it to justify my present or declare my future. I use only today. My God where am I with you today? Am I walking with you in the cool of the day, today, at this very moment? Today is what matters, because I can't change yesterday, and I am not guaranteed tomorrow. As I look at myself this day in the mirror of Your Word. Whose reflection do I see?

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2 Corin 3:18)


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