Hey guys! So day 1 of vacation was amazing…
I woke up around 7:10 and went out to the balcony to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic, and I did my morning Bible reading and also some journaling out there. It was kind of cloudy so there wasn’t much to see, but here’s a picture anyway:
My church streams the Sunday service on Facebook live every week, but we were traveling yesterday morning and I didn’t want to use all of my data to watch it. I decided to watch it this morning instead, and it was still good even though I watched it 24 hours after the fact. They had a guest speaker talk about Operation Christmas Child (I couldn’t believe that they were talking about it already, and then I was like, “oh wait, it’s October already XD). She had a great story about a trip she took to Tanzania. I’ve heard so many stories about OCC and the impact that the boxes have on the lives of the children who receive them (I even got a letter in the mail from a little girl who got my box one year!) but they never get old. I love hearing stories about how God is working through Samaritan’s Purse, especially since I’ve packed shoe boxes the last several years. I can’t wait to go buy stuff this year! If you’ve never heard about OCC, I would encourage you to look it up!
Later on, we went out to eat at Cracker Barrel and I was surprised to see how similar it was to ours back home! I got spicy grilled catfish, which was really good by the way. After we were done eating, I was looking through the birthday cards and things in the store part of the restaurant, and came across a cool book. It was just a tiny little book that’s meant to be bought as an encouraging gift, and I thought it was really cool. I took a picture of one of the pages (and then added a verse to it, ’cause why not? XD)
And that was pretty much my day! But anyway, that’s not the main point of this post. I want to talk about what happened last night while I was praying and kind of what God was showing me.
I’ve been struggling lately with confessing my sins to other humans. I’ve confessed to God, I’m forgiven, and I know that. Yet I can’t shake the fact that God says in the book of James to confess your sins to one another, that you may be healed. I’m a relatively private person (though my penpal may not think so XD) and I find it hard to share my struggles. I love to be perfect and right all the time; I hate it when I mess up and especially when others know that I did. I want others to see the good in me, but I sweep all the bad stuff under a rug and pretend that it doesn’t exist.
But the reality is, it’s still there. I still have sin and junk in my life. Pretending that it isn’t there doesn’t make it go away, just the same as pretending your sibling is invisible doesn’t make them actually invisible. I try to make excuses and say, “well, Christ has forgiven me and He’s forgotten it, so why shouldn’t I?” But I’ve felt really convicted lately that I’ve never told anybody. We all–or at least a lot of us–have that one secret sin that we do when no one’s watching. It’s in our nature to hide it. Right after Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God. Nobody wants to admit that they just did something wrong.
Last night, I felt so guilty about the things I’ve done that I didn’t even want to pray. I remember my pastor–and many others–talking about how we always run from God when we actually need to just run to Him and ask for forgiveness. I didn’t really understand that concept. I knew God would always forgive me–that I needn’t be ashamed once I received that forgiveness–that He would always take me back just as the prodigal son was accepted back. I never thought I would be the one to run from God. And yet that is exactly how I felt last night.
I’m going to be completely honest with you–I was scared of God. I read in the Old Testament about the Israelites and their disobedience, and how God talks about destroying them and not relenting and all this terrible, terrible stuff that He was going to do to them because they had turned from Him. When you read chapter after chapter of that, it’s hard to not be afraid of the wrath of God! I couldn’t find the words or the willingness to pray last night because I didn’t think I wanted to hear what God had to say. I felt that God was angry with me, and I definitely didn’t feel forgiven.
I was confused and didn’t know what to do. I understood the grace of God, yet I didn’t feel the grace of God. I wanted so badly to talk to Him as His loved child, to come before Him knowing that I was accepted and loved as I had done so many times before. But for ten minutes or so, I just couldn’t (I know, ten minutes is soo long XD). It was like everything I had ever learned and knew about God was suddenly out the window.
But then I remembered the story of Job. Satan had asked permission to tempt Job by taking away all his wealth–his land, livestock, family, and even his personal health. And God allowed it. Job could have just cursed God and died, like he was encouraged to do (I don’t remember by who…it might have been his wife). But he remained faithful because he knew God was good.
I wasn’t suffering physical loss last night, but I could feel the same temptation to just reject God. I felt that God had rejected me, yet I knew He was faithful. I knew that He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. I simply said, “Get behind me Satan” and then continued to pray just like I normally would–like a child to her Heavenly Father. And I felt so much better after I did.
I believe that God has been showing me over the last several weeks that Satan is real. He loves to tell you lies about God and make you doubt everything. He loves to do anything that pulls you away from God. Satan is real. We’re not fighting flesh and blood; we’re fighting against the rulers of the darkness of this world. It’s spiritual warfare.
But read this next sentence carefully: Satan cannot win. God has already won the war for us! We’re not fighting the war for victory, we’re fighting from victory! Satan lost from the very start.
The devil’s only hope is that he can pull people away from God and destroy His church. The Bible says he’s like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But notice that he is only like a lion–he may roar, but he can’t harm you if you’re protected by God. The war is won, and if you’re a child of God, then you’re on the winning side.
There’s no need to be ashamed of anything that God has cast aside. You can be sure that you are forgiven; your sins are cast as far as the east is from the west. Jesus took your punishment on the cross for you so you didn’t have to! God is a just God and He will judge the world, but those who have been redeemed by His blood don’t have to fear His wrath. He sees us through the eyes of His Son and we are forgiven. The devil will try to make you believe otherwise, but he can’t change the truth. That is the beauty of the gospel.
God has brought this verse to my attention over and over: “Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.” (John 8:36)
The battle is won, and we are free. I pray that you believe that.
I’m going to keep writing this week about what God is teaching me. I don’t know exactly what topics I’m going to cover because I don’t know exactly what God is going to say, but I think a lot what I write is going to go back to the gospel. Because, after all, the gospel is everything to those who believe it. I’m excited to see what’s going to happen this week, and I hope you are too!
Until next time! God bless y’all ❤