If you don't want to read some spiritual thoughts and testimony, this post is not for you. I would love it if you did but I'm giving you fair warning.
I think it's about time I acknowledged publicly how good God has been to me.
Wow, I can't believe how much The Enemy doesn't want me to type this post, I just can't seem to get going with it. So forgive me if it rambles, I'm just going to start typing and leave the rest to Him.
I had looked long and hard for a church in England. I got to a point where I was not stagnating as a Christian but actually going backward and I felt I desperately needed a place that could support me and where I could learn and grow. I went to church after church, not feeling at home, until one Monday morning, after a Sunday evening spent crying about it to Him, He directed me to the website of an Afrikaans church in England that had a congregation on my doorstep. I really grew there and made good friends and when it was time to go, I did a silly thing. I forgot how faithful God is and started fretting about how I'd ever fit in so nicely here. I feared the inter-denominational drama that is prevalent in Afrikaans churches. I wondered if I'd be expected to go back to my family's church, although I felt I'd grown apart from some of their convictions.
And then we walked into Leigh's house and there was a Bible verse up on the wall. I'd been so used to living in a country where you just assume someone's an atheist because usually you'd be right, and I never expected her to be a Christian. Silly, I know. But she was, and we shared a lot and ministered to each other. God absolutely brought us into each other's lives and we each had a message to bring into the other's. Then she invited me to her church and her home cell (or home Bible study) group and God proved again that I needn't worry about where _I_ will find a church; I just have to stop trying to do it myself and just ask: God, where do I need to be?
He's since used Bryanstone Bible Church to achieve some amazing growth in me; even more than at SA Gemeente in England. I've received prayer and messages about so much that I was bound up by last year - guilt about depression ("if you believe you shouldn't need pills, you obviously don't have enough faith that God will cure you from it"); an eating disorder (they don't really seem to have proper names when you're fat rather than tiny thin, but I definitely had a screwed up relationship with food, mentally); and generally not knowing how to re-connect with God. Have you ever known you should really call a friend but the longer you put it off the harder it seems to know where you'd even start the conversation?
Well thanks to one amazing evening's prayer with two amazing people, I finally saw those bonds for what they were and I am so grateful to be free of them. Honestly; I've eaten for comfort and self-punishment (it's weird and complicated) for as long as I can remember. I don't anymore. And I didn't do anything to stop. I just didn't have to anymore.
And I've had confirmation from so many sources about this whole grace thing. That nothing we could do could save our own souls anyway, but it's ok, because Jesus has done it already. So you can pine in your own shortcomings forever if you like, and give the Evil One lots of ammunition to use against you, whispering things to you in the more difficult hours until you believe them; or you can accept the Grace offered to you and realise that through Jesus' blood God sees you as perfect, as beautiful, as the prodigal child who comes back after doing unthinkable things and doesn't care, just wraps you in his best robes and is glad you're there.
I cannot tell you how freeing that's been. My "line" to God has never been more open and easy, and I don't need to just pray for or about things anymore, either; I can sometimes just enjoy His presence. As Pastor Ross said yesterday: can you believe we get to pray? Not "we have to pray", but we GET to pray?? The creator of the universe wants to communicate with us! How awesome is that.
I've been going through ups and downs recently (more about that another time) but I thank God because the downs are an opportunity to lean on His strength when I can't find mine, and to draw closer to Him.
Let me just end by saying: I love God; He has made me his beloved daughter and co-heir with the Prince of the Universe, and doesn't afraid of anything!