I was raised in a Christian home and went to church growing up with my parents and my sisters for as long as I can remember. I prayed with my mom when I was around 4 years old to receive Jesus as my Savior and to forgive me of my sins. My parents set an example for serving the church but when it came down to it I never felt joy consistently when volunteering or serving. I often did not want to be doing what I was doing.
I felt I had to serve to be a good person. I lived most of my life trying to be a good person, to live with high morals and values, and to not do anything wrong. I was proud of how good I was. I would even go so far as to say there were great periods in my life where I thought I didn’t sin and was a good person.
In reality I was scared to look bad, of making poor decisions, and to not live up to what I thought God wanted me to be, which to me was a good person. I feel this led to me becoming very timid and living in fear of looking bad. This was not a freeing way to live and really not living the life God had given me at all.
I tried many times throughout my life to read the Bible to deepen my relationship with God. It came hard to me and felt like more of a duty than a gift. As I moved on to college and beyond I made a point to go to church every Sunday and if I missed I would feel guilty. My Bible would sit by my bed and I would rarely open it. There was not a lot of joy or freedom in living my life that way.
God brought my husband, Matt, into my life in 2008. There was something different about him and his walk with God. He was so knowledgeable about the Bible and would often reference passages and verses I had never heard even though I had been going to church my whole life. Matt lived his life differently than me. God and church were not just a Sunday thing and he loved to read his Bible every day and learn more about God. He would talk about the sins he committed or struggled with and repent of them. He would find great comfort and encouragement from God’s word in ways I never had before. This intrigued me because I wanted to have that same joy to read the Bible and to be honest with God about who I am, a sinner, not a good person. I can see God was using Matt to draw me closer to him in a real way.
Matt and I got married in 2009. We started our life together and it was a very humbling experience for me. Marriage was hard. I couldn’t be a good person all the time to Matt and would sin against him. I needed God more than ever to help me in our marriage as I figured out how to be Matt’s wife. I had a hard time repenting when I was wrong and letting Matt take the lead. This is the first time in my life when I really began to see myself as a sinner in need of God’s grace. I still did not quite know or understand how to fully receive that grace. Matt was feeling led to change churches and I was struggling with that idea. I felt God encouraging me to take the step of faith and follow him and Matt, and we ended up at Hiawatha Church.
I was exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ in a new way. A way that I had never understood it before. More and more the idea of being saved through grace and not works hit home in my heart. It was not about being a good person or living by high morals or values but about admitting I am a sinner and will never be able to do enough good things or serve enough at church to make up for my sins or to prove to God that I am worth it.
I kept hearing over and over at Hiawatha that God loves me and died for me and my salvation is a gift to be received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:4 says, “ But God, rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved.” It is all about God and his love and grace for me. This brought joy to me and made me feel free. I started to see the gospel working in all areas of my life.
One of the biggest ways I have seen the gospel at work in my life lately is through the adoption of our two boys. There are so many parallels between the adoption process and the gospel. I was constantly reminded throughout this process that he loves me and takes me as I am and sees me like he sees his son, Jesus. Galatians 4:4-7 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
I frequently stand in awe that we have a God who chases us down, adopts us into his family, making us heirs, and calls us his sons and daughters.
We had the privilege of appearing before a judge under oath to swear to be parents to our sons just a few weeks ago. I was flooded with emotion that day because I was reminded again how God as my father takes me as his daughter not because of how good I am or the good works I do but because of how much he loves me through the saving blood of Jesus Christ.