Every year on the week of Easter, I pause the book discussions in observance of Good Friday.
It's probably not hard to know that this blog is a Christian blog. At least, I hope not. I wouldn't want that to be in the background, especially because this blog was designed for Christian evaluation of the books I read.
But let me tell you a little more.
I was saved at the age of four, just a young thing. I do remember it, but barely. By the time I was twelve, I had no conception of God's love for me. I couldn't feel it, couldn't believe it, and just felt an empty, fearful ache where I wanted to feel that warmth of assurance.
I think I was thirteen or fourteen when I picked up Douglas Bond's Guns of Thunder, a fictional book set in the French and Indian war. When I got to the chapter that included significant text from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, that had me glued to the pages in fascinated dread. For a child struggling with assurance of salvation, that's not an easy sermon to read. I remember crying out desperately that I wanted something to change, wanted to be saved.
While I consider myself saved from the age of four, I always count the beginning of my deeper relationship with God from that moment. It changed from the simple acceptance of a little girl to a more earnest pursuit of what it meant to believe him. That was the point where I started calling God 'Father' in my prayers. It surprised me at the time, because I had never done it before, and all of a sudden it came as naturally as if I had done it all my life.
Even after that, it wasn't all simple. I avoided Guns of Thunder like the plague, avoided all thought of the sermon that had affected me so deeply, and ignored rooted sins in my life that I was hanging on to. Thirteen and fourteen were emotionally painful years. I still feel a deep sympathy for the child I was when I think about them. I don't remember what happened after that. For a long time it was nothing, just tires spinning in a rut. But God was working even when I felt like I was at a stand still. I got rid of some unrepented sin I was hanging on to, and started taking holiness more seriously.
Some time later, we chose Guns of Thunder for a family read-aloud. I didn't want to hear it. It brought back too many painful memories, and I was afraid of that one chapter, with that one sermon. All the old fears resurfaced. But when we got to that chapter and read it, I was surprised to find my perception of it changing. Somehow, instead of condemnation, those words comforted and reassured me with the deep love of God. I think that was a big turning point for me. I wasn't afraid anymore.
How ironic that the Holy Spirit would use a fictional book to put me on the path of serious pursuit of Christ.
I started teaching teen girls through the Bright Lights curriculum when I was 17. It had been a dream of mine since I was 12 years old, and I'm still living the dream come true. That, along with continued personal and family worship, helped me ground my assurance of the character of God and the nature of salvation in the truth of Scripture, instead of my emotions. You'll never be fully sure of salvation if you only have your feelings to hold on to, and teen girls have a lot of feelings to navigate.
Now that I'm twenty-one, my relationship with Christ has shifted even deeper. Life has had its disappointments, its deep struggles with the effects of sin, and old griefs and scars that I still carry. Christ has met me in the darkest places of the soul and brought light with his presence. He's also met me in every moment of suffering, and proven himself still faithful and still satisfying. Everyone has experiences with suffering and temptation, that, when handled properly, ground them deeper in Christ. Even homeschoolers. ;)
Over the last couple of years, the increased joy of walking with Christ takes me by surprise almost every single day. Fresh glimpses of his love for his people can move me to tears, whether it's morning Bible reading, or Sunday sermon, or Monday Bible study. He constantly reaffirms his love for his people, and I get to walk in this intimate, incredible friendship with Jesus Christ until the day he takes me home.
That's been my story. Just part of my story, really. I could keep you here for hours talking details, but after walking through this portion of my spiritual journey, it all boils down to this: I am passionate about two things: that God should be the first source of my love and only source of my worship, and that I should never slacken in my pursuit of holiness until I can lay aside this sinful nature for good.
Because of Good Friday, we celebrate millions of stories of redemption. Some are quiet struggles; some are deathbed redemptions; some are stories of God's incredible power to snatch back from a sinful life. All are celebrations of a soul passing from eternal death to eternal life.
I've always loved stories. When I meditate on how many people have found wholeness because God and his Son orchestrated our redemption, those are the best ones of all. It was a brutal price to pay, but it was the only way anyone of us could have hope. How kind, how intensely loving Christ was, to offer his life for our freedom. What wonder it is to live in hope and wholeness because of Good Friday.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16
So tell me, because I'd love to hear: what's your Good Friday story?