This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” – Isaiah 30:15a, b NIV
By Debbie Roberts
By the time I was 13 years old, I had failed so miserably at being a “good person,” I just gave up, which resulted in a journey over the next 12 years somewhat along the lines of the story of the prodigal son culminating eventually in a season in the pig-pen. There were a couple of times during this long season when I turned to the Lord, but these were short-lived inasmuch as I seemed to feel more comfortable in the pig-pen and, since I couldn’t be good enough to warrant “being a Christian,” I thought, “why bother?”
My third attempt at 25 years old went a bit better. I cleaned up my act again and a year later met a wonderful guy. He was really, really smart, handsome, with an engagingly dry wit, who loved to travel and went to church on a regular basis! Close to a year later after we met, we married. Five years later I was ready to give up on the church thing again. I just couldn’t be good enough. I had a horrible temper that I could not seem to control, and I was entirely too sensitive to want to be among other people for any length of time. I despaired of life all together.
I told the Lord I didn’t know what the word grace meant. I asked the Lord to help me understand. I told Him that I heard the word used a lot, but I had no understanding of what it meant when it was said. Also around the same time, I told the Lord I heard a lot about His Holiness, but I had no understanding of what that meant either.
I was asked to join a women’s discipleship group. In that group, I began to receive answers to my questions, I began to learn more about having a relationship with God and Who He was, and began to understand the truth of the Gospel, but I needed to learn and know how to apply it and not just memorize the words and recite them when called for.
I prayed a lot.
I memorized scripture.
I set up all kinds of ways to try to diffuse my angry rages and listened to everyone’s suggestions.
I had some “success” but I was still struggling. Then breakthrough came in the form of a tiny little book printed on mass market paper called We Would See Jesus by Roy and Revel Hession. I devoured each page that explained the scriptures indicating that Jesus is The Way; He is The Truth as well as The Life. It had nothing to do with my striving to be a perfectly good person and trying to keep all the rules, because I could never be good enough or keep all the rules successfully enough to fulfill the mandate for perfection made necessary by His Holiness. As a matter of fact it was my need that qualified me for His Mercy and for His Redemption. He said He is I AM; I AM everything you could possibly need. There is no formula to follow. There is no system that if abided by would give life to the fullness and there is no way to keep the rules perfectly, but only by faith in Jesus who is the perfect sacrifice on my behalf and paid FOR IT ALL. All He asks is for me to come to Him, and He wants me to acknowledge my need of Him due to my sin, my failures, and bring it ALL to Him. I was set free! “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36 NIV
“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, isa broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” – Psalm 51:16-17 NIV
Whether it is a lack of understanding, a stronghold of sin that cannot be broken, inability to forgive yourself or another person or persons, a physical health or mental health concern, or weary of attempts to keep the rules, whatever it may be: He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than you can ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). It takes an act of the will to get the stiff neck bent from depending on oneself to stretch that neck out and look up to Him, the author and perfector of our faith. Our faith as well as our healing does not come from within ourselves or from our abilities, but from reliance on the One Who made us and gave Himself for us.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5