head to heart

Posted: January 26th, 2011 | Filed under: book, life | Tags: , | 9 Comments »

Dear Serena,

I wanted to ask you a few things. I dove into my Bible and realized that before, I only knew ABOUT Jesus, rather than KNOWING him. His grace is there, unquestionably, but I’m having a hard time getting the knowledge to my heart. Was it a process for you? And how long did it take you before you were able to shake the feelings of complete and total worthlessness? (Because that’s a struggle for me every.single.day.)

I was like you, too, only knowing about Jesus. I wanted to devote my life to Him. I believed in Him, but I didn’t know Him. Not as my only ransom or Savior. I knew it in my mind, but not in my heart, not in my spirit. In my own mind, He gave me a fresh start and it was up to me to maintain it. When I fell, I was devastated.

I was devastated because I thought it was my responsibility to keep myself from sinning. What I didn’t understand is that we ARE supposed to try, knowing full well that our efforts will always fail us and we’ll always stumble along. We will sin, not matter how close we are to Jesus, …no matter how long we have been a Christian.

The process, for me, was fueled by the unbearable attacks from within myself and from my old Christian friends. The attacks were so final and so condemning. But I had something inside me that knew something was amiss. The problem with the condemnation was that I was still alive. If what I thought about myself and what my friends thought about me was true, then why was I still here?

I was ready to face my judgment, it was not like I was innocent, but before resigning to being kicked out of the church and facing my life without Jesus, I needed to hear it from God. I needed Him to tell me that I was finished and there was no hope for me. I felt no hope, my friends offered no hope, but God had the final say. It took me a while before I was ready to hear it from Him. My affair started in May, I asked Him to help me end my deceit in June, He brought it out in the open the next day. But I didn’t talk to Him again until August. The pain and fear were overwhelming. Dealing with the disappointment and anger of His people and dealing with my own were too much, I couldn’t bear dealing with His.

I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person. When I got tired of being in limbo, I went to God so that I could hear my fate from His mouth. If He said it, I would believe it. This was too big, too final, for me to listen to people who claim to be His mouthpiece and I no longer trusted myself.

Chapter 5 in Grace Is For Sinners, “Hell ’05,” reveals what that moment was like and what I heard from God. He told me that he was not angry, He had compassion on me, and that He would not dress me in shame. He also said that any attack that came was not from Him. That was the key that held me together when the attacks (from within and without) continued to come.

When people talk about being ‘set apart’, this is what I think of. This love that God revealed to me set me apart, protected me from being destroyed, held me together while I healed, and continues to hold me together while I go out and bear myself for the sake of others. I feel a firm grip of nothing but Love.

My feelings of worthlessness subsided by studying the scripture. I know that sounds churchy, but I mean it. In my studying, I learned that God allows circumstances to break you. It’s an act of mercy, but you can only understand that if you trust that He knows what He’s doing and He has a purpose for it. We make the mistake of seeing our failures and struggles as evidence that God is not in on the plot. This has us rejecting the very things that He is using to mold us.

God’s people are destined in Him to fulfill their purpose. We were made for a reason and He will see to it that we are equipped to fulfill that purpose. The problem is that none of us are born into perfection. Being a Christian doesn’t suddenly sanctify you. Sanctification is an ongoing process. A process that you will not see fulfilled until the end.

Like in the story of Jonah, he was called to share the truth of God’s grace to a city drowning in evil. Jonah couldn’t do it until he knew what grace was. He had to experience his own need before he could offer it to another. I was called to share the story of God’s grace, too. I had no idea what my purpose was or what grace was until my life depended on it. Because of my failure, I know what my purpose is and what God’s message through me is. I am not finished because I’m not dead. I’ll still mess up, I still have a lot of learning to do, but my perspective is completely different and it’s only because of my failure. That’s grace. That’s God turning sin on it’s head and sucking the spiritual death out of it. It’s awesome, to me, because I can’t take a bit of credit for anything that God does through me.

It was easy to “die to myself” because I hated what I did and wanted no part of that selfish existence. The process was not without pain. I mourned the loss of me. It was devastating. I liked me, but I had to let “her” go. My sin emptied me and grace replaced my sense of self.

Worthlessness is a lie. Hell is trying to isolate you so that you can be tormented easier. Call out the lie and reject it. Your failure gives Satan words to use against you, but he’s a liar. He’s a liar because Jesus took all of the accusations upon Himself and paid the penalty for them. Satan will do everything he can to get you to forget that. But, God has no recollection of your sin, so don’t live according to something that God doesn’t even consider. The Truth sets you free.

When the accusations come, know that they are against Jesus, not you. That’s why the accusations become a lie. When you are tucked away in Christ, the accusations are about Him and they hold no water. You are hidden away in Him. He took your sin (past, present, future) and nailed it all to the cross so that you could be free. It’s not a freedom so that you can live selfishly. It’s a freedom to grow and become so that you can be used to pour out His Love.


9 Comments on “head to heart”

  1. 1 Genevieve Thul said at 7:48 am on January 26th, 2011:

    Can I quote you on my blog? I copied the last two paragraphs to quote, but the Creative Commons license comes up. Wanted to check. I would love to share, with a link to you, of course!

  2. 2 Heather said at 8:05 am on January 26th, 2011:

    This is so incredibly beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing your heart and journey. Blessings and peace as you continue.

  3. 3 Serena Woods said at 8:30 am on January 26th, 2011:

    Thanks, ladies. πŸ™‚ Yes, Genevieve, go ahead and use it. :). Thanks for asking.

  4. 4 Genevieve Thul said at 9:14 am on January 26th, 2011:

    Duly noted…and blogged. THANK YOU! The burning acid of condemnation can't reach this soul…praise be to God (and His messengers living Grace in human skin).

  5. 5 Jason said at 1:06 pm on January 26th, 2011:

    Incredible stuff, Serena. That video brought me to tears.

  6. 6 Tiffany said at 8:33 pm on January 26th, 2011:

    Hi Serena!

    I'm so glad that you shared with us over at Sarah Mae's this last week. And I'm glad to have come across your blog. I pray God will bless you in ministring to others who have been where you have been and need to hear that no matter what His grace is sufficient! And I hope it will open others' eyes to the need for compasion and that our loving our brothers and sisters is part of what the Lord meant when he said "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Our love for God and each other can cover a multitude of sins. πŸ˜€

  7. 7 eileen said at 8:08 am on January 27th, 2011:

    Love this…"I had no idea what my purpose was or what grace was until my life depended on it. Because of my failure, I know what my purpose is and what God’s message through me is. I am not finished because I’m not dead. I’ll still mess up, I still have a lot of learning to do, but my perspective is completely different and it’s only because of my failure. That’s grace." Yes it is! Amen.

  8. 8 Dawn said at 8:06 am on January 28th, 2011:

    thx for studying, seeking Jesus and sharing Him with us.

  9. 9 Franchesca said at 11:14 am on January 28th, 2011:

    Just forwarded this to a friend. Timely. Thanks for all you do, to encourage all of us!

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