Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Winning at Bible Trivia, but Losing my Soul

I am really good at Bible trivia.  (I know it sounds like I'm bragging but there is a reason I bring it up.)  I loved it when our Sunday School teachers would sometimes toss the lesson aside and say, "Kids, we are going to have a 'fun day' and play Bible trivia."  I always felt pretty puffed up when it was all said and done since I often knew the answers to the other kid's questions even if I didn't get to answer aloud.  My dad and mom spent time teaching us bible stories and taking us to church, camp, VBS and Awana where we'd get saturated with lots of bible lessons.  When my dad went into full-time ministry, we were totally going to rock at being Pastor's kids.  We knew plenty and were sure to impress.  ***Excuse me while I go gag for a moment in the other room!***  It still makes me feel quite nauseated when my Pharisee Phase is exposed...something I have tried for years to forget!

Knowledge felt really good.  My chest felt full.  My head danced with answers.  I felt.... "right".  I think the correct term is "righteous".  When I went to camp between 7th and 8th grade, I heard a message on Matthew 7:21-23.  It says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!'"  I called him Lord, but was actually living as god of my own life.  It became apparent to me that night, knowing a lot about God is not the same as knowing Him.

This was one of the most beautiful nights of my life.  I set aside my pious pride, humbled myself and cried out to be rescued.  Freed from my chains of sin. Yesterday, I said God freed me twice.  This night was the first.  The seeds of my salvation were watered with humble tears and hope for my future with Jesus. I am so thankful for the debt he paid for me, because I was beyond being able to pay it. All that head knowledge was absolutely worthless to help rescue me.  I owed Jesus everything!  I would give him my life and work really, really hard at being "good" for him.  I wanted him to be proud!  I would be his best worker!

Peace.  I knew where I'd go if I died. That truly was peaceful.  But I had little understanding of inner peace in the days and years ahead.  In my young mind, I'd just joined the Jesus Army (wasn't there a song about that..."Yes, Sir!")  and I was going to Be... All That You Can Be!  Yep, I was in the Army now!  Bring it on, boot camp!

Candi... meet Grace

Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank God Almighty I'm free at last!  Once you've been set free from slavery, do you think anyone could pay you enough to EVER go back?  No way!!!  If someone offered me a million dollars today to live without grace, I would pass it up without a moments hesitation.  I am recovering from legalism... a reformed Pharisee...and have no desire to ever be a moralist again!

Moralist- n. 1. A teacher or student of morals or moral problems.
                   2. One who follows a system of moral principles.
                   3. One who is unduly concerned with the morals of others.
Legalism- n.  Strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or
                     prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.
Pharisee- n.  1. A member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict
                     interpretation and observation of the Mosaic law in both it oral
                     and written form.
                    2. A hypocritically self-righteous person.

I finally decided to start a blog about this journey that God is taking me on.  A road from Bondage to Freedom.  Law to Grace.  Why tell my story?  Because there is a chance that it may bring healing to someone who has been chained up by legalism or wounded by un-grace.  To give hope that there is real grace, love and freedom to be discovered!  I feel great risk in telling my story though.  To my "truth-wielding" friends, when you read words like this you right away assume I've gone off the deep end and that soon I'll be saying we should all hold hands, sing "We Are the World" and join one big universal church and toss out the bible.  And by saying this, my "liberal" friends may think I sound like I don't believe in God or absolute right or wrong anymore and that anything is acceptable since I've said I am "free".  I'm saying neither of these things.

But, I have discovered that TRUTH is to live with GRACE!  Because truth without grace, is law, legalism, external morality and chains.   Welcome to my story.  The story of how God set me free... twice!  Once from sin.  Once from slavery.