The last few days have been nothing short of amazing. I feel like I'm starting all over again. Even worship songs that I've sung a thousand times are alive with new meaning.
I was feeling a little sick Friday and Saturday (probably at least in part because of all that I ate on Thursday!!) I used to look at sickness as a sign of weak faith -- and even though I had moved on from churches that held that belief, it was still a nagging doubt and a fear that I had to fight whenever I felt ill. It went like this: If your faith isn't strong enough to ward off a stomach bug, how can it be strong enough to be saved? Out of habit, I had started to think along those lines again... but then I realized something.
I had the equation backwards -- it doesn't say that you're saved by faith through grace, it says that you're saved by grace through faith. For years I believed that if my faith was strong enough, God would be gracious enough to save me. Now I'm learning that the strength is in God's grace -- and I couldn't even have faith without Him first extending His grace.
There's tremendous freedom in that realization. It was hard for me to believe that God really loved me when I also believed that I could lose my salvation at the drop of a hat. I respected God, I feared God, and I loved Him from a (hopefully safe) distance... but the thought that He loved me? Maybe He would someday, when I was closer to perfect... but for now, I figured He just tolerated me (and there were times when I even wondered about that).
I've finally begun to find what I've been looking for ever since I left the Pentecostal church. I wrote it on the RP homepage back when I started this project in July: "I just wanted to get back to basics, to rediscover a genuine relationship with God that wasn't based on performance, emotion, ritual, or pretending."