After my turning point moment when I experienced God’s loving acceptance, I felt that my first priority was to find a church. God had other ideas: ‘Look after your family and your new baby, I’ll find you a church.’
And he did!
A few months later a neighbour invited me to a coffee morning at a local church. I seem to remember that she asked my twice as I had another appointment the first time.
The minute I walked through the door I felt at home. I felt that the people at this church were genuinely interested in me. It was the same feeling as I’d had with the students of the Christian Union at university.
J needed a feed, and I didn’t feel comfortable breast-feeding in the main room, so I went into the kitchen which was doubling as a crèche. The pastor’s wife was minding the small children whilst their mums listened to the speaker. We got talking and I gave a potted outline of my life. M began her reply by saying, ‘Now I don’t want you to come under condemnation…’
It was as if a light bulb had been switched on! At that moment I understood what had been happening during those dark years. What I’d thought of as conviction from the Holy Spirit had been condemnation from the enemy, satan, the accuser of the brethren. Yes. I hadn’t been living a godly life; but that wasn’t the point. Godly sorrow over our failings should draw us closer to God; worldly sorrow and feelings of condemnation drive us from him. We feel we’re not good enough, so draw away.
The point is, none of us are ‘good enough’, and we never will be in this life.
In Christ there is no condemnation [Romans 8:1] – because of Jesus’ death on the cross, taking all our shortcomings upon himself, we can draw near to Father God with confidence, not trusting in our own goodness, but in the goodness of Jesus. This realisation was so freeing. And I’ve not looked back since.
Yes, I still mess up. Yes, there are still issues to be dealt with. Recently, I’ve been very conscious of how far I still have to go; I’m still very much a work in progress. But as with Paul in his letter to the Romans, I’m convinced that NOTHING can separate me from God’s love [Romans 8:38,39] – because God’s love is truly unconditional and does not depend on anything I do or don’t do, it’s totally dependant on him.
[You may note that I’ve quoted from the first and last verses of chapter 8 of Paul’s letter to the Romans. May I suggest you read that chapter, and meditate on it (that could take several days, there are gems of hope in almost every verse).]
You can find earlier posts in this series at: My Story