This month I celebrated 7 years of living for God. I have believed in Him for as long as I can remember, but as I got older into my teenage years, I began to do my own thing and get into things that I knew was not pleasing to Him. But in 2011 I began to feel Him tugging on my heart to come back to Him like never before and in 2012, I finally relented. The only thing I regret is not doing it sooner. Continue on to read 7 Things I have learned since making this transition.
1. Walking with God doesn't mean you'll be free from tests and trials - I think we tend to have this misconception that everything will be unicorns and rainbows once we start living for God. We believe that suddenly all of our problems and temptations will vanish. The truth is though that the tests and trials of life happen to everyone- the just and the unjust. As a matter of fact, you will find that once you make a decision for God, the enemy will come after you harder because he hates that you are no longer on his team. He wants to get you back on his side through discouragement, falling into temptations, bringing troubles and everything in between. Jesus said in this life you will have trouble (John 16:33). But the good news is that with God you are much better equipped to handle them. And if you're maturing the way you should, the tests get easier to recognize and easier to overcome. As you begin to realize more and more who you are in Christ you begin to live the victorious life that has been purchased just for you.
2. God's way is really the best way- If you would have told me way back then that my life would look like what it looks like right now, I probably would have laughed in your face. There is no way that I could be in this place of joy, freedom, purpose and love without totally surrendering my life to God...no way. I’m sure of it. Sure, I could have had a decent life maybe, but nothing as fulfilling and eye opening as what I’m walking in at this moment. When you fully surrender the broken pieces of your life no matter how bad it seems, God has a way of putting it back together in the most beautiful way possible. It’s surreal how He does it. At one point I thought: “There is no hope for me. I may as well settle for this or settle for that.” But then came Jesus with His amazing grace and relentless love and He said, no...There’s more. How can you not love a God like that?
3. Community is key- A part of me living for God meant that I would join and get planted in a church. While I was attending the new membership class for the church I joined, God in HIs divine ways connected me to 3 other women who were around the same age as me and starting their journey with the Lord as well. Those ladies are still my friends to this day and one is even my very best friend. Looking back on that time, I realize that having people around that were on the same journey as me was crucial to the success of my walk. I needed them for accountability, for relatability and well, for fun. They made me realize that living for God didn’t have to be boring. If you’re going to be successful at living for God, you will have to separate yourself from people and things that you are used to that are no good for you, at least for a period of time until you build yourself up and become strong in your faith.You must surround yourself with people who are walking the same path and who can hold you accountable along the way.
4. Walking with God is a marathon, not a sprint- One of the first things that God revealed to me when I first started living for Him was what my purpose is. I guess in my mind I would dive into it automatically or at the very least within the first year. Boy was I wrong. Here I am 7 years later and I am much closer to my purpose being realized, but still not fully where He’s taking me. There were some things I had to experience and some years I had to serve. I had to meet and marry my husband. I had to work different jobs. God had to uproot some things in my heart, and so much more. And there is still so much more to be done. What I have come to realize is that every season is preparing me for the next. And my purpose is not so much a destination, but a culmination of everything in every season and every assignment. When I look at it like that, it really takes the pressure off and I’m much more inclined to enjoy the journey.
5. The streets are watching even if they never say anything (family, old friends, co-workers) your social media- I quickly realized that I am being watched...closely simply for my decision to live for the Lord. Some people are skeptics and others are hoping to see me win. Either way, they are all hoping that the Jesus who I proclaim is the real thing. Every single human being is missing something, they just don’t know what it is. They try to fill their voids with relationships, alcohol, drugs and a host of other things, but who they really need is Jesus. Some people are looking for hope, they are looking for encouragement and the only Bible that some of them will ever read is that of our lives. That doesn’t mean that I try to portray the perfect life. On the contrary, I try to be open and honest with my struggles and tests with the hopes that people can see that Jesus helps us overcome and causes us to win every single time. Know that your decision to follow God wholeheartedly will bring onlookers as well. Some secret and some no so secret. Either way, it’s a good thing to be the light in such a dark world.
6. I will never "arrive" but that doesn't mean I don't stop trying to- Me and my best friend have a saying “Just when you thought you made it.” haha. We say this everytime God teaches us another lesson whether through revelation or a mistake we’ve made. We say it jokingly because we know that we will never arrive and be perfected until Jesus returns, but subconsciously when we walk with the Lord we can tend to think we have to be perfect and have it all together. That’s why one of my favorite scriptures is this I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 12-14). This scripture reminds me that we can take the pressure off of ourselves to be perfect, but at the same time continue moving forward to look more like Jesus every single day. He is the one doing the perfecting in us as long as we have a willing hard.
7. God never changed, walking with Him changed me- Wanna know something ironic? Even though I was not walking closely with God, He was always walking with me. I remember giving my life to Christ at a young age when I found a pamphlet inside my house and it said to confess with my mouth Jesus and believe in my heart. I did that all by myself and I really believed it and from then on I knew that God was with me. I would pray and He would always answer. I would feel an indescribable peace when I would go into the bathroom to be alone with Him. I would play gospel music and play “church” on Sundays when my parents wouldn’t take me. Even though I was young, I knew God and I knew He knew me. So as I got older and started doing my own thing, God never left me. The crazy part is He was still answering prayers, protecting me, covering me and loving on me. I just couldn’t always sense it because I was so deep in sin. And because I was not living for Him and according to His will, there was only so much He could do for and through me. But when I began living for Him, I changed. And then He could really mold my life into something worth living for. The faithfulness of God literally awes me at times, and I’m so glad that even when we are not faithful, He remains faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13)
If you’ve never invited Jesus to come live in your heart or if like me, you have but you know you haven’t been living for Him, I invite you to say a simple prayer right now. All you have to do is confess it with your mouth and believe it in your heart.
“Dear God, I admit that I have not lived a life pleasing to you, but I want to do things differently starting right now. I confess that Jesus is the Son of God. That He lived, died and rose again on the 3rd day. Thank you for sending Him to save me. I ask that you will help me by your Spirit to live a life worthy of the price in which it was bought. I love you Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen”
If you have said this prayer, I would love to hear from you. Please email me and check out this blog post which will give you practical things that you can begin today to grow in your relationship with God.