“to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy, instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:2-3
As we go throughout our lives, we experience trials that either tear us down or build us up. As I’ve experienced life little by little, I’ve found that its much easier to focus and thrive on the tearing down aspect of the trial, rather than the latter. Our minds are so geared towards the negative, and I attribute that to the Devil’s reign in this world that we live in. Thinking about the positive repercussions of enduring a hardship is something that is quickly overpowered by thoughts of doubt. Today, I’d just really love to share my heart with you all, and I hope that it can be a testimony that can be helpful and relatable.
This weekend I went on a retreat to the president of CNU’s vacation house. His wife is the leader of a Bible study I attend on Wednesday evenings and she invited us over to her house for a weekend of love, laughter, and relaxation. I came into this retreat thinking it would be just like any other Christian retreat I’d been on, but I was quickly reassured that it would be much much different. Our other leader, Emily, decided that our theme for the weekend would be “redefining you.”
“Redefining you,” I thought to myself, “How can I redefine myself when I don’t even really know who I am anymore?”
As most of you know, I’ve battled depression for quite some time now. It has improved with the help of medicine, but at times it comes back with a mighty fury that is almost impossible to fight. These last couple of weeks I’ve been struggling with it once again. It’s so hard to look in the mirror and see the person standing in the reflection. Who is she? Why has she turned into this mess? What can she do to make Jesus love her more?
Through this weekend I have finally realized the answers to these questions.
“Who is she?”: Well…first of all- she’s the daughter of a King. Her worth is found in Him and she cannot be defined by the limitations of this world.
“Why has she turned into this mess?”: Because God has allowed her to. God uses messy situations to show his everlasting love and mighty power; He uses “messes” to be a testimony to others; He uses “messes” to have our spirits defined by HIM and not this world of darkness and deceit.
“What can she do to make Jesus love her more?”: Absolutely NOTHING.
My whole life, I have been drowned in what is called legalism. Legalism is the belief that good works and maintaining rules can make God love you more. Its the belief that if another person isn’t following the same rules that you are, that they’re less of a God follower than you. I’ve despised this overhanging belief that has been drilled into my mind ever since I was young. Going to Christian school was overall a wonderful experience, but the amount of legalism that goes on in that environment sickens me. “If you listen to secular music, God is displeased with you.” “If you watch movies or shows that portray gay lifestyles, you should stop watching it.” “Two piece bathing suits are the SPAWN OF THE DEVIL!”
Well listen up. None of those statements are true.
After talking with Rosemary and Emily this weekend, I have been reassured of my freedom in Christ. I have been REDEFINED by His grace. My whole entire life has been about feeling guilt and shame, but these two women have helped me to see the light. When God looks at me, He sees his Son, Jesus. He sees perfection because my sinful self has been covered by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus wants us to be in tune with today’s culture. He can use that to be a light to those who don’t know Jesus. That can make us more relatable.
God wants us to enjoy this life. We don’t have it for very long, and God gave us Jesus so that we could enjoy life freely; knowing that we are forgiven. Legalism takes away the precious gift called GRACE. John 10:10 says,
“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”
This weekend I have been redefined in Jesus. I am no longer bound by legalism. I am free in Christ.
with love, samm.
*cross picture taken by Katie Wewerka<3*