I’m continuing on my August theme of milestones. We’ve chatted about this blog’s 10th anniversary, my 40th birthday, and the first anniversary of my intermittent fasting practice. So many things to acknowledge and celebrate – and yet, this is the greatest one to bring to mind.
On August 19, 2001, my life completely changed.
For months leading up to that day, I’d felt an inner stirring. The way I’d been living was no longer okay. I was no longer satisfied with my selfish decisions. I was hungry for more – more depth and meaning, more purpose and identity. I had pushed God away for years, but His tenacious and loving pursuit of me was about to win out over my stubbornness.
That morning, I felt restless. I paced my bedroom, not fully understanding what what happening internally or even what I needed. The only thing I knew to do was grab a journal and my car keys and get out of that room. As I drove to my favorite coffee shop where I hoped to collect my thoughts and stormy emotions into something that made sense, I sensed God speaking – quietly and inwardly to my soul.
In those recent months, I’d already faced the reality of my poor and often immoral decisions. I had even asked God for forgiveness. Having grown up in church and exposed to the Word of God (the Bible), I knew He would forgive me.
But when He spoke, His words wrecked me.
“Courtney, you’ve received My forgiveness. But have you forgiven yourself?”
Short answer: no. I hadn’t forgiven myself. All along, through my years of self-serving choices, I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew! I knew right from wrong and I had consistently chosen the wrong, knowing and trying to ignore how it would break the heart of God.
So, driving along in tears, I realized the step I needed to take: forgive myself and then fully surrender my entire life, agenda, hopes, and dreams to the only One trustworthy to hold them – Jesus.
Today I celebrate 21 years since that day that shifted my entire world. That day what I thought I knew about Jesus – that He had saved me from my sins – merged with the experienced reality of who He is – not only my Savior (for my past, present, and future), but also my Lord – the One who is in charge, the One who is worthy of my entirety.
This wasn’t such a radical idea in my childhood, when “believing in Jesus” was common and often taken for granted. But in this world today, the idea that I am not the one ruling and guiding my life feels radical. It’s not about me; it’s only about Him.
Not the Jesus that’s untouchable and judgmental who many people falsely perceive Him to be. No, this is the Jesus who actually was – and is – who washed the feet of the man in the midst of betraying Him. The One who sat with the lowest and most hated of society, loving them where they were and calling them deeper and higher. The One who loves radically and unconditionally.
He’s not only found behind the church doors – often He’s most easily found outside of them, at the kitchen sink, on the tear-drenched carpet, on the commute to work, over a cup of coffee between friends, during a shared project to serve. He is everywhere – right here and now.
Have I demonstrated this perfectly over the past 21 years? Nope…not at all. And that amazes me – how this God of all perfection chooses to partner with such imperfect people to work His will in the world. Even someone as flawed as me.
Have you trusted Him with your plans? Your hopes? Your self?