He lifted me
My story is one of hope, but it begins with a lot of mistakes.
Stupid, selfish, arrogant, painful mistakes. Reflecting on them is often the fastest route to the miserable realisation that I've blown it. I bury myself in the wreckage of bad decisions. I doubt the identity that was bought for me at the cross and I define myself as someone who has failed.
What happens when we fail? Are we 'benched' by God? Do our mistakes disqualify us from serving Him? Is our identity threatened by the times that we mess up?
David and Saul both got a lot wrong.
But there is a profound difference between these two men. One was broken over his sin and the other was apathetic. One was a man after God’s own heart, the other a failed and tragic king. David is a model of true repentance. He sings,
In the last few years I have arrived at one of the most important realisations on my journey of faith so far: change is only possible with a transformed heart. I can't defend righteousness I don’t have. Committing to self-reformation and beating myself up with guilt are powerless to do what needs to be done: transform my heart.
I am left with one option. I must admit my weakness and run to the grace of Jesus. God is so good and He loves us so much that when we mess up He doesn't abandon us. He doesn't even forgive us just to sweep us away to live out the rest of our days at a distance from Him.
He runs to us.
He picks us up in His arms and welcomes us home. He empowers us. He gives us new clothes and responsibility and reminds us of our true, unshakeable identity as His child. If we know Him, love Him and cry out in repentance when we hurt Him, there is grace enough to cover everything. Without that grace bought by Jesus on the cross, I am utterly lost, broken and hopeless. Because of it, I know that God delights in me. Because of it, I am free.
Jesus did not just make the first payment on our moral mortgages.
He paid every penny of it so that we can live in relationship with God debt-free forever. We don't need to measure up to be in relationship with God. We don't need to hide from Him when we mess up. We don't need to compare ourselves to other people, wondering if God loves us less. We just need to rest in the knowledge that we don't have anything left to pay because Jesus paid it all on the cross. When we make mistakes we don't need to pretend we didn't, we don't need to panic or hide. We just need to run to Jesus.
I sometimes feel the attack of doubt from the echoes of failures in my past and I am weighed down by the burden of how others perceive me because of them.
However, I am wonderfully reminded that if the righteousness of Jesus allows me to stand before a holy God utterly unafraid, I have no reason to be haunted by what others think of me. To doubt my new standing before God is to doubt the absolute finality of what Jesus did for me on the cross. He didn't die to make me a bit better. He didn’t die to make God like me a bit more. He died to take every ounce of my sin and present me spotless before God as His son. The work is done, finished, completed. I am His and He is mine.
I have a long way to go.
God teaches me new things about humility, repentance, forgiveness and grace every day. Sometimes it is painful. Through all of it I'm learning to allow God to transform my heart and say with absolute confidence that I am not defined by how others see me. I am defined by what Jesus did for me when He hung in my place and took the consequences of my actions instead of me.
As Christians, we are not just people over whom God’s wrath no longer hangs, we are those who have been credited a righteousness which positively commends us to God. He has finished being angry with us, and instead He approves and receives us. We have been brought by Christ into a place of royal favour and into a marvellous state of gracious acceptance by God.
There is now no punishment to bear.
God finds no cause for condemnation in us. Instead, we are met with His wholehearted approval. His wrath towards us has been removed. We are at peace with Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are no longer slaves to guilt, shame or fear. We are not defined by our mistakes and failings. Anything telling us otherwise is a lie.
You can be free.
You don't have to carry the burden of being defined by what you've done. You can have true identity that has been bought and freely offered by someone who took the consequences of purchasing it for you.
This message of hope and freedom has the power to change the world. It is a message that has changed my life, one that continues to transform my character and the reason Something More exists: to see Christians empowered to share the story of the One who saved them. We want to see a generation transformed by the truth that they are loved more than they can know.
Stand with us and share it.