Growing up I never had a problem accepting the freedom and grace that Christ offers us. I never had any problem understanding his motives, his love, his mercy, his kindness and now I am somewhat ashamed to admit this. While God’s intention is for us to accept and receive his grace and love, I think sometimes we do so too flippantly. Do we fully understand the weight of this gift? I didn’t.
During the last four years, I have learned so much about the character of God, the person of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. This has been an overwhelming experience. He has given me joy beyond my comprehension and has filled me with a passion to love people and to pursue His kingdom daily.
“Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly.” Micah 6:8
However, the closer I have come to know Christ–the closer I have come to understanding a glimpse of who He is–the more spiritual warfare I have experienced and the more difficulty I have had to accept this free grace.
I have become aware of how beautiful it is that in my brokenness, in my pain, in all the ways I screw up, Christ pursues me relentlessly with his love. In my fear, in my uncertainty, he calls me by name and declares his sovereignty over my life. I don’t deserve such love and devotion; I don’t deserve that he desires so deeply for me to know him. I guess that’s why it’s called grace…
Through this acknowledgement and understanding of Christ, the devil has stepped in and tried to strip me down to the core. The past several months I have had days where I am bombarded by thoughts of how disgusting, worthless, selfish and cowardly I am. These thoughts bring me to my knees in tears, crying out to God for forgiveness. I used to think this was God convicting me, but I realize now that it was actually Satan trying to lessen the impact of grace in my life. Many nights he won, leaving me beaten and broken.
“Accepting God’s kindness and free love is something the devil does not want us to do. If we hear in our inner ear, a voice saying that we are failures, we are losers, we will never amount to anything, this is the voice of Satan trying to convince the Bride that the Groom does not love her. This is not the voice of God. God woos us with kindness, he changes our character with a passion of his love.” Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
A close friend recently told me that when Christ convicts us, it’s to draw us closer to Him, it’s to direct us back to Him. If thoughts of guilt and worthlessness flood my mind and there’s no directing back to God, then that’s not God’s voice. It’s the devil trying to convince me that God will not love me in my sin and brokenness. It’s a lie. Satan is a liar and deceiver, and he will do whatever he can to lessen my understanding and acceptance of God’s free love and grace.
I hadn’t experienced spiritual warfare before, but I can tell you, it’s absolutely real and incredibly painful. However, I can also tell you that part of me feels blessed to experience this, because I believe the devil realizes he’s losing me and that my life belongs to Christ. He’s trying so hard for me to not follow Jesus, but it’s too late, my life belongs to Him.
I now know that when I face these dark days and when I feel like I am not worthy of anything, that this is exactly where Christ comes in. His love, his peace, his grace and his mercy meet me there. He comforts me and reassures me that He will never leave me, or forsake me. He will love me despite my failures, he will be there in my suffering, his promises are true.
It is no longer flippantly that I accept Christ’s grace into my life, for I have a greater understanding of my need for him and how little I am without him. I am more thankful today than ever that he sacrificed everything so that we may live abundantly in him and with him. I will never be the same again.