I’m an all-in kind of chick.
I am very passionate in everything I think, do, say and feel. Being all-in and passionate can be very good…unless of course your passion takes you off course.
From the age of 15, I was all-in and very passionate about partying, and I stayed passionate about that lifestyle until around the age of 32. I wanted to quit so bad but there was far too much pain to feel and way too much guilt and shame to face.
On July 29, 2001, I had my last drink (and drug). I was flat out miserable because frankly I didn’t know how to “do life” without some type of mood-altering substance. I didn’t think I could stay sober and the truth is…I couldn’t…not in my own strength. A couple of months later, on the evening of October 6, 2001, I gave my life to Christ. While this was most excellent, I just couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around the fact that God loved me very much, no matter what I had done in the past. I grew up being terrified of God. I believed that if you were good, you could go to Heaven and, if you were bad, you would go to Hell. I believed God’s love was completely conditional on how you acted or on the things you did. You could have told me this wasn’t true but I would not have believed it because there were too many people in my life that proved to me that love was conditional.
After giving my life to Christ…I went straight from being an all-in alcoholic to all-in ministry. I started doing all the things I thought I was supposed to do to be good in God’s eyes…reading my Bible, doing Bible studies, going to church every Sunday, tithing and, better yet, I just started leading an adult Sunday school class…I was so passionate about ministry that I started investing in people, teaching, mentoring, counseling…you name it, I was all about it. If you wanted something done, I was your action girl. Yay me!
Our God is so full of mercy towards us…He uses us despite our weaknesses and for that I am grateful. As I continued to drink in as much knowledge as I could and gain more and more responsibility, I, at almost the same rate of increase, became so full of myself…flat out prideful and arrogant…things started changing drastically for me. I became so overwhelmed and burdened, my mind and my heart was so full of sin and idolatry was all but a hardened statue in front of me to touch. I had so much fear of man. I so wanted people to be pleased with me, some more than others. It consumed me.
There was a HUGE problem in my life. If you look back with me, you will see that after I gave my life to Christ, I went straight into discipling others. BIG problem there…I was never discipled. Remember all that shame and guilt I couldn’t face? Remember how I viewed God and how I perceived He felt about me? The interesting thing is my passion was directed completely to making sure OTHER PEOPLE knew the TRUTH of the GOSPEL. I believed it with my whole heart for ANY and EVERYONE else. I would FIGHT (even flip a few tables) to make sure ANY and EVERYONE else believed the Gospel for themselves but never, not once, did I think I had a real chance. The truth is I believed deep down that the only chance I had in getting into Heaven was to lead as many people as I could to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Just like the alcohol numbed me to my pain, my guilt and my shame….alcohol was replaced by ministry for the same result. Not only that…but ministry became my identity.
If there was ever a person that I believe God should have given up on, it was me. BUT I am so grateful that He didn’t. A year ago, the Lord displayed full mercy and grace as He disciplined me because He loves me. It’s true. It hurt terribly. His discipline was for my good. He stripped me of all my idols (my job, my position, my church, my closest friends). He gently grabbed hold of my chin and turned my face towards Him and He has won my heart.
Why am I blogging? As God has sifted me and put me through the refining fire, He has also showed me that my struggle is not uncommon among Christians. I cannot help but think about the Scripture in Matthew 7 where it says: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
I gasp as I realize the horror of where I was just a short year ago…and there I was in full-time ministry and didn’t even have a TRUE personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. If He had returned a year ago, would He have said those words to me? I am so grateful for His discipline. He sets before us life and death…Choose LIFE.
As you read my story, I pray your own heart is yearning to accept His loving discipline…I pray you feel His hand under your chin, gently encouraging you to look at Him and only Him. He loves you and me so much. His plans are for our good.
Hebrews 12:5-6 “My son (daughter), do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son (daughter).”
Will you join me in this journey? We have lots to learn…Can we do it together?
Your sister in Christ…