Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

Masthead header

For When You Don’t Feel Saved

I remember sitting in a living room full of recovering addicts this time last year. We were teaching about Spiritual gifts and the ‘deeper’ things of Scripture (ha), when one woman simply looked up and said, “What is grace?

What is grace? Are you kidding me? That’s like Christianity 101. I thought every American knew about God’s grace….Has she not seen those fake billboards from God?

I left a run-down house that day smelling like second-hand smoke, shaking my head in disbelief. There was someone I had been speaking about God with for months who couldn’t even talk about grace because she didn’t know what it was.

It was then that I started to really dig into what God meant when He said I was saved by grace. In teaching these ladies, who had been to Hell and back on Earth, I started to see how much I, too, needed to be redeemed.

The world told these women that they could never be good enough. They had stolen from their parents for drugs. They had sold their bodies for money to merely buy a meal for that day. They had shot poison into their veins after vowing they would never stoop so low as to use a needle to get high. But God was telling them that He was waiting for them to stop worrying about trying to earn His favor.

He was freely giving it to them.

So how could I, a goody-two-shoes church girl on her way to save the world, have learned so much from these ladies? Well, I know exactly how it feels to think that I can never be good enough for God.

Growing up, my church taught a 5-step solution to salvation. It was well-intentioned and was meant to be measurable and easy to understand. The problem is, it was measurable and easy to understand. You either do it, or you don’t.

So I did it. I heard, I believed, I repented, I confessed, and I was baptized.

Ding! The angels in Heaven rejoiced! One more saved soul coming right up!

But there were days I didn’t feel saved. There were times I knew I wasn’t living good enough to earn the salvation I thought I had to work for.

And there was this constant frustration every time I heard of wonderful people doing amazing, God-filled things. I wrestled with thoughts like, Did they follow my five steps? If they didn’t, can I accept their faith?

I can honestly say that I lived for 23 years in fear that if I started to accept that God could save someone apart from my personal plan of salvation, He would snatch my own salvation, too.

Somehow, in my twisted mind, no one was good enough to earn God’s grace unless they came to Christ just like me. And what’s worse, I started to believe that I was somehow a blessing to God. Wasn’t He lucky that I was so obedient?

Guys, I was so wrong.

So, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, WRONG.

God wants to save the church girl just as much as he wants to save the heroin addict.

—————-

I stumbled upon a new passage tonight in reading more about the idea of God’s grace. Here’s how The Living Bible translation puts it, for those of you like me who struggle with fancy language:

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn; he will never go back on his promises. Once you {Gentiles} were rebels against God, but when the Jews refused his gifts God was merciful to you instead. And now the Jews are the rebels, but some day they, too, will share in God’s mercy upon you. For God has given them all up to sin so that he could have mercy upon all alike. (Romans 11:29-32)

I thought Satan was the one that caused us to sin. I still think he does. But God made my body, and He gave me my spirit.

Hang with me here. Things are about to get crazy.

God could have chosen to design us any way He wanted. Had it been me, I would have made sure everyone that I made knew just how powerful I was, just how in-control I was, and I would have also required hourly compliments on my looks and a large Sonic sweet tea on the side.

But God didn’t do that. He made us in such a way that we could live for ourselves if we wanted. He gave us the freedom to choose righteousness or worldliness. And WE ALL CHOSE WORLDLINESS. All of us.

And what’s even crazier, maybe He’s glad we did. If we didn’t need a Savior, then how could He possibly show us how much He loves us?

Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his wisdom and knowledge and riches! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods! (Romans 11:33)

I’m still soaking all of this up. I’ve had to read these verses again and again, and then wash some dishes and read them again.

But I am so thankful that God cared enough to let me go so that He could welcome me back with open arms.

—————-

So why did I care so much to share these thoughts? One of my best friends from college called me yesterday. We share the same faith background, and our roots run deep in our fellowship of believers. We also share the struggle to hold onto our heritage while making Jesus our end-all be-all.

So she described her bondage of perfectionism, and how it overflowed into every aspect of her life. Her marriage, her job, and specifically her walk with God.

And then she said something that I have replayed in my mind over and over.

Lauren, when you lay your head down at night, do you feel like you are saved? Like you are going to Heaven?

Because I don’t.

Oh, how I have been here. Oh, how I have longed for the freedom to admit my imperfections while thanking God for my salvation in the same breath.

And what if Jesus just happened to decide to come back right as I finished saying the words ‘bless her heart’? {That insinuated that I was gossiping about someone, if you’ve never lived below the Mason-Dixon line.}

Can I really spend eternity with Him if I haven’t prayed for forgiveness after every little sin I commit?

And my heart aches because I know there are so many who have joined me on this journey.

Some of us have done things we would never dare speak inside the walls of a church building. Some of us can’t imagine the idea of someone outside our denomination being pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Some of us may have such low self-esteem that we don’t even think God cares enough about us to extend His grace to us.

The good news is, that puts us all in the same boat. We just don’t understand what God wants to give us. Or why He wants to forgive us. Or how we can accept His gift.

—————-

I’m a firm believer that time in Scripture is incredibly transformative in molding Christ-like people.

I want to share with you a Bible study method that has completely changed my faith walk. This 3-column study is based on writing scripture, drawing discoveries, and committing to obey.

Anyone can use this strategy to study. Here’s a visual of what it looks like:

  DBS

 

If you are struggling with believing that God has saved you from yourself, or if want to quit believing that you could somehow earn God’s favor, try spending time in His word.

There are so many passages that refer to God’s grace. I’ve chosen just a few that I thought would be most helpful. Pray over these scriptures. Dwell on the words. And spend a week on each passage allowing yourself to be obedient a little step at a time. Grace passages If you need an accountability partner, reach out to someone you are close to and ask them to join you on this journey. Reach out to me! I will share my “I will” for the week right alongside you.

May He bless you as you continue becoming the humbled, redeemed, sanctified person He designed you to be.

Grace and peace.

—-

Have you ever studied Scripture using this 3-column strategy? What are your favorite verses about grace?

Comments

comments

Brittany RobinettJanuary 14, 2014 - 1:55 am

Lauren,

First I want to begin by telling you what I am sure you have heard many times… You are an absolute inspiration to young women like myself. Ever since I was a small child, I have known that I wanted to make a huge difference in the world and simply help people. As a college student trying to find a place in the world for a big helping heart like mine, I love reading your blog. Every day I open it up and even if you haven’t posted anything new, I can always read through things you have posted (over and over and over again) and be reminded of the wonderful plan God has in store for myself. Your blog makes my heart ache in so many different ways, and it is truly wonderful and refreshing to read about your passion, your heart, and your endeavors. You’re blog has become one of the largest blessings in my life.
Thank you so much for giving me so much without even knowing it.
God bless!
Brittany