In the first five years of my walk with Jesus, He used friendship, the bible, CS Lewis, true community, conviction, transparency and a church home to persevere me.
If your remember, year five wrapped up on a high note. If I’m going to be honest with you, I kind of thought the rest of my life would be smooth sailing.
I had no idea. No idea.
Year six: (8) disappointment with self and others. As year five ended I was in my first official christian relationship. I had made a purity pact with God. I was teaching at my church. I was getting encouragement every where I turned. I had kicked all the old nasty habits and become a ‘good’ Christian.
I was invited to become a part of our church staff and of course it felt like a perfect fit for someone ‘like me’.
Gosh, I wish I’d known then that the greatest red flag in the life of a Christian is believing you have arrived; believing you’re ‘good’. I had begun to confuse my spiritual giftedness with spiritual maturity.
Everything fell apart just before I came on staff. The relationship I was in ended, and so did the purity we had maintained so well. At the same time I began learning that my church wasn’t perfect. Turns out it was run by sinners.
I felt betrayed by them. I felt betrayed by myself.
It seemed like a terrible time to figure out I didn’t have it all together, so I just faked it. At the end of year six I was certain I’d hit my low.
I was wrong. Year 6 was just the teaser. It was a trailer designed to humble me in preparation for the main event.
Year seven: (9) sin. Turns out there were darker things in my heart then I’d ever realized.
My disappointment with others and myself made the perfect petri-dish to destroy my approval idol. That sounds like a great thing, but it turns out my approval idol was the only thing keeping me from much more visible sin.
I had always known I was a sinner, but that’s so different from knowing you’re a sinner.
I hated learning that I was a failure. I hated learning that I wasn’t just capable of being the worst of sinners, I was the worst of sinners.
I also hated forsaking my sweet Jesus for the pathetic offers of sin.
In year seven I wanted to die. A lot.
But I didn’t die. I found a Savior. In the darkness, where nothing was real but the terrifying panicked realization that I was unworthy in the truest sense, I learned that God alone justifies and that He alone redeems.
I don’t know if I knew the gospel till I was seven. (Maybe I’m actually three years old..)
Year eight: (10) more community (11) more Bible. As God began to give victory over some of my sin, I found myself in a new and equally awful place. I felt disqualified. I felt crippled by fear and shame.
So, He brought the next thing I needed for perseverance.
He brought gospel-centered community into my life. Community who weren’t surprised by my sin. With perfect patience they explained the gospel to me over and over again, and slowly I began to be free of shame and fear.
I had been reading the Bible consistently for years now, but in year eight I began to pray that God would cause me to love the Bible; really love it. He answered that prayer. I fell in love with His word. I became desperate and hungry for it daily.
Year nine: (12) ministry (13) death. It seems weird to say that ministry has persevered me this past year, but it has. I’ve gotten to partner with a gal at work and through that friendship I have come to understand what Paul and Barnabas must have felt like doing ministry together.
I know that most people go through life doing ministry with people they like, maybe even love, but what we have is incredible. We are totally in sync. Our gifts compliment each other in a phenomenal way. We make each other better at ministry. We make each other better at life.
When I feel weak and disqualified, she doesn’t preach ‘a better me’, she preaches the gospel. It’s a firm foundation beneath my feet that feel so weary so many days.
It’s still not all sweetness and light. Perseverance sometimes means pain.
My dad is gone. Sin is creeping at the door waiting to devour me. I can feel darkness in my heart eager to overtake me once again.
Still, I feel confident that God is at work. I find my heart desperate to be desperate for Him. I find myself longing to live for Him alone and not waste this precious life. And that encourages me that He is still keeping the promise that He made me all those years ago.
I don’t know everything about year ten but there are some things I do know:
1. Year ten will hold nothing but good for me.
2. Year ten will hold whatever I need to finish this race
There were many moments in the past 9 years when I have tried to leave my faithful friend and Father. It makes me want to cry.
My testimony is one of His unfailing faithfulness. He has persevered me at every turn: through sin and friends and failure and success.
I’m convinced my life must be the one held up in Heaven as the example of the crazy reckless love of God. He chose me to demonstrate how much He is willing to forgive, how far He is willing to pursue, how strong His hold will be for those in Christ.
I’m prone to wander. I’m prone to leave my sweet Jesus.
Here’s my heart, Lord. Please take it. Please take it and seal it for your courts above.