Growing up, I had a great fear of God. I mean, I literally was afraid of Him. I felt so small, so weak, and so sinful. I felt like he was always mad at me, disappointed in me. Whenever I'd pray, I'd mainly just say, "sorry" over and over. I didn't know how I would ever feel close to him or at peace with Him. I really DID want to please him. But I kept messing up and began to feel hopeless. I remember thinking, "This 'Christian life' thing is really hard!"
Now keep in mind, I come from an incredible, loving, godly family and grew up in a great church at least 3 days a week. I heard "Jesus loves me" from the time I was born. Yet if I felt this way about God, I started thinking how much more so do those who never grew up in church, who never heard "Jesus loves me," whose parents never affirmed or encouraged them.
A sweet mentor friend of mine used to tell me, "The world in general feels far from God and already condemned. They usually don't need anyone pointing out to them that they fall short." Yet there are so many churches that do just that... preach a list of do's and don't's week after week and make it sound like that's what the Christian life is all about. Most of us innately KNOW what we should and shouldn't do and also know how often we mess up. That doesn't need to be beaten into us. (Now granted, I am the type of person to beat my own self up when I fail and always expect perfection, so maybe it's mostly these personality types who don't need others reminding them of their failures.) But it can be really overwhelming to live this way. Do you agree? Anyone else been there?
We all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory! (Rom 3:23) It's pretty clear, pretty obvious! And the penalty of sin is death! (Romans 6:23) Most people go on with life sitting underneath the weight of these truths, feeling condemned, hopeless, and far from God (even if they try to avoid thinking about it by staying busy or finding significance in some way or another). Most people stop trying with God because they just feel like they can never be good enough. I know I almost did. I felt my unworthiness soooo deeply growing up and all through college, and I remember telling God one time, "If this is what the Christian life is like, I don't want it!" At that point I had been trying to do everything in my own strength and all I could hear was the voice of the enemy whispering condemnation over me, even though I had also heard another truth my whole life that I failed to really believe in my heart for years.
Jesus came, not to judge the world, but to save the world! (John 3:17). There is a HUGE need for us to have a Savior, isn't there? Have you come to that realization, that you need a Savior? I come to it every day! We will NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH. We can never be near God or accepted by God on our own. And God knows that. It isn't a surprise to Him. But he doesn't just sit up there in heaven looking down on us in disappointment. He did something about it! He sent us a Savior, his own Son (the only one that could do it!). Jesus said, "I'll save them from their sins, their failures, weaknesses and shortcomings. I'll give them my righteousness and take on their sin. I'll die the death they deserve...SO THAT they can finally draw near to God without shame! (Yes please!) Wearing MY righteousness, they will be accepted by God. He will love them as he loves me, his own Son! He will welcome them into His family and give them the family inheritance and never leave them or forsake them." So Jesus gave his life for us. Hebrews 2:15 says, "Only in this way could he (Jesus) deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying." So there it is. He delivered us from fear, from fear of God (being afraid of Him) and fear of death! Ahhh, this is so great!
I have to remind myself continually of what it means that I have asked Jesus to be my Savior. It has taken me so many years to truly understand my position now that I am in Him! I am memorizing Romans 8 with my best friend and one of the main reasons I chose it (well, besides that it's one of the best chapters in the whole bible) is because of verses 1. "Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those of us who are IN Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death." My daily reading passage today reaffirmed the joy I now have in being in Christ.
Psalm 103: "Praise the Lord, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me. He FORGIVES all my sins and heals all my diseases. He ransoms me from death and surrounds me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things! (vs. 12) He has removed our rebellious acts as far as the east is from the west!" (You should really read this whole chapter. It. is. incredible).
God has removed my sins from me and remembers them no more. He calls me his beloved daughter. Jesus calls me his sister (Hebrews 2:11)! All that is His is mine. I am a part of SUCH A COOL FAMILY! And I no longer have to be afraid of what God thinks of me or fear his wrath. He delights in me and sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17) and accepts me. I am so thankful he finally helped me see what it REALLY means to be a Christian, to accept what His son did for me, to be free in Him, to enjoy nearness and a personal relationship with Him without condemnation! So. Awesome.