Who is the man who fears the Lord? -Psalm 25:12
I never completely understood what it was to fear God until I started to understand His sovereignty. I am convinced that God will do anything He needs to do to get us to see Him. My own story is one that makes people really think about how much control they want to give God. Our control is an illusion, but many people think they have it, so I'll talk about it.
When I was much younger in my journey of faith (I wasn't one who became a Christian as a child), I begged God to use me. I knew that I had nothing to offer Him, but I wanted to be put to work. I spent about a year praying every day that God would remove anything in my life that He didn't put there, and then put me to work. My life started to fall apart. I lost my job, I lost my boyfriend, I lost my home, and I felt distance from my friends. My daughter and I moved back in with my parents and I got a personally degrading job (went from a law firm to a drive through). I knew what was happening and I persisted. After about a year of the same daily prayer, He started questioning me. Questions would pose themselves in my devotions and in the scriptures I would study. My spirit was inundated with the constant question: "Do you have any idea what you're asking me?"
"Yes," I would answer. I thought I did.
"What if you lose your good name? What if I need a good doormat?" His questions pierced my intentions and got straight to the point of my pride.
I trusted Him. I let His questions roll around in my head. I removed all of my conditions, conditions I didn't know I had, and I said "Yes."
All was quiet for a few weeks after. I knew He heard me and I began my phase of waiting.
And then life shifted me again.
I moved back to a place closer to my friends and my church. I got a job as a waitress and put myself through cosmetology school. After school, I got married to the former boyfriend. Life kept me busy. I had two more babies and loved being a good mom.
After I ruined my marriage and my friendships with my affair, I spent a lot of time trying to find answers. I am not someone who lacks morals or disregards the sanctity of marriage. I was loyal and valued my friendships. However, I was damaged and selfish. I was fully capable of doing what I knew was wrong. I was able to justify my decisions in twisted ways. In trying to find answers, my justifications didn't hold up.
In searching for God in my own chaos, I found grace. But, not just grace. I found a God who would let me go my own way for the purpose of burning it out.
I started answering the call to write about my experience as a Christian who failed horribly and was redeemed by grace. The passion came from the fact that God has a purpose, even in the chaos, and He allows things to happen to fulfill His purpose. God didn't make me do evil. Satan didn't make me do evil. I did it all by myself. My passion for this message is that God uses our free will to fulfill His ultimate purpose. By my own free will, I chose to sin. And because of what I have seen, it is by my own free will that I abandon my will for His. I know what it is to choose my own way and because I did, I no longer want my own way. I deserved death and there was a time when I thought that physical death would have been a lighter sentence than living without Him. However, the horror of death in that state was the reality of eternal damnation and I was ripped to shreds in my hopelessness.
When someone is on the brink of death, you try to make them focus on you. You talk to them and tell them to hang on. You talk about things that are in the here and now so that they don't slip away and give up. God was the one kneeling over me, talking relentlessly so that I wouldn't look away from Him and give up. He asked me questions. Questions that are laced throughout scripture. They were there the whole time, but I never knew the implications or the reality until I had to answer them. "Will you die to yourself? Will you let me have your life? If I let you live, will you let me live through you?"
The pardoned don't get to choose their circumstances. Everything God gives you is a gift that you don't deserve. I know that for a fact and I count that assurance as a blessing. I would know nothing about Him, not this part, if I had not fallen.
I have spoken to people on numerous occasions about my story. They walk away asking God to know Him like that. And God always asks them, "Do you really want to?" And they always answer, "I don't know."
God is tender. He'll take you any way He can have you. And He knows that to know Him is to fear Him.
"Who is the man who fears the Lord?"
He is the man who has been wrecked and pardoned.
"What if you lose your good name?" I know for a fact that my message is not about me. Any attention I get is not because of my good name. I've lost my goodness. I show you my worst so that you know how far He'll go to save you. My guilt is great and He still loves me. That's where my wellbeing comes from.
God's covenant is peace (Isaiah 54:10), His judgment seat is marked by the rainbow (Revelation 4:3). God's purpose is salvation. If you want to work for Him, you must know what that means. Jesus brought reconciliation and you can't know His gift without knowing separation. The rainbow came after the destruction. It's the reflection of the multifaceted prism of the beauty He has rebuilt. Everything He planned set salvation into motion. You would not need Him if you did not fail. Failure is not the end. Our instruction is to provide our life-saving eyewitness account of the necessity of the gift of Jesus. Our self-sufficiancy is the net in which our feet get tangled.
For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. -Psalm 25:11-15
Serena Woods is a published author, freelance writer, and public speaker. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and four daughters. Her book is titled Grace Is For Sinners, and she is the author of the blog at graceisforsinners.com. You can find her on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SerenaWoodsAuthor and Twitter: https://twitter.com/SerenaWoods