The Quest for Joy Series: The Beginning

The Quest for Joy Series: The Beginning

Note: This is the first official post in a series. If you missed the intro, you can find it here.

I suppose the best place to start would be the beginning. It all started in a little country baptist church. This is where I first heard about Jesus. This is where I first started to read the bible. This is where I learned the importance of community, of church family. This is where the Lord developed in me a love for missions and evangelism. This is where the Lord taught me what it was to sacrificially serve. This is the church in which I fell in love with my husband, watched him come to the Lord, and was baptized. This is where we were married. That little church is where the foundation was laid for my life. When I look back on those years, I can’t help but smile. God blessed me beyond measure there and I’m thankful for the people he used to shape my life.

That little church was like home to me for nearly 10 years. The Lord brought Dallas and I to a new church, where we began to learn so much about the bible. We were immediately hit with a tidal wave of deep theology, doctrines, and discipleship relationships. This was all so new to us. For me, it was a hard beginning, learning about things like “Wives, submit to your husbands as is fitting to the Lord.” This was news to me, and it wasn’t my favorite for sure! God was gracious, however, to give grace to me and helped me to grasp these (new to me) biblical truths. We were learning how to  recognize and deal with the sin in our lives for the first time, and we were desperate to find out how to live lives that were pleasing to the Lord. We made amazing, life friendships with people who were patient and kind while we were struggling to understand everything. People who had good marriages and families. People we watched closely and tried to emulate. While these were all good things, there was a problem in my view of who God was, which was constantly a road block in my growth as a believer.

I always viewed God as someone who created me and called himself my Father. However, not having a good father to compare that to, I was left to my own ideas of what that God might be like. I assumed that as long as I was “good”, he loved me and was near. But when I was “bad”, he was far from me and disappointed. I believed that He would never bless me in anyway, or even allow me to learn about Him unless I obeyed in every area of my life.

I tried desperately to love Jesus. I believed that if I could just obey enough, that love would grow. Unfortunately, my heart was continually growing colder to Christ himself, as my Christian life became about trying to earn love from God and approval from the christians around me. Always running, never obtaining. I (wrongly) concluded that the “barricade” that kept me from love and joy in my life had to be the sin in my life. So I put all of my energy into focusing on my sin and how to get rid of it. I read books that focused on sin (the harsher, the better) I listened to biblical counseling cd’s for tips, memorized verses telling me to stop sinning, and took all kinds of pre-cautions outwardly, to ensure that I would begin to sin less.  I also tried faithfully practicing the disciplines of the Christian life (bible reading, prayer, scripture memory, etc) thinking that was what the Lord was looking for- (surely he’d love me if I could just DO enough), only to find out that I was about as good at practicing disciplines as I was at fixing the sin in my life. In other words, I began focusing more and more on myself, my life, and my sinfulness and less and less on Christ. Needless to say, I found myself always in a spiritual depression, always defeated, and never understanding what I was doing wrong.

It was 5 years ago (2007) when I began to pray and ask the Lord to help me understand His love for me and the grace that I desperately needed to be free. Freedom to love him in return and to live for him honestly and unashamedly. What I was looking for ultimately, was joy. I cannot wait to share with my friends just how the Lord began to answer that prayer and even more excited to share the love, freedom, and JOY that the gospel offers! First though, I think it is important for me to share how having a wrong view of God and the gospel begins to shape your entire life. In the next post, I will be sharing how this view shaped all of my relationships. Stay tuned. 🙂

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

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