God has given me the strength and passion to rearrange my priorities. God is number one. I will not dilute my faith to keep any person happy.
I became a Christian at the young age of 5 and my mom brought me up with the knowledge that having a relationship with Jesus is important. I have to say, baring in mind my dad isn't a Christian, this was very one sided and she did a great job of making me realise this importance. She had sewn a seed that wasn't just an empty husk. (Thanks mom!)
As I reached high school, I became a prime target for bullies so I found my circle of friends outside of school. I was still a good person, morally, in the eyes of the world but my soul became dirty with the life that I chose to step into. I put my relationship with God on hold while I explored this life with my new friends. This life of drinking and heavy metal music. This seemed to be what these friendships were based on. Pretty shallow now, come to think of it! But I was accepted by these people and it felt great. What a lure.
The music I listened to was pretty dark to be honest and I knew, deep down, God didn't approve. I just told myself the lyrics meant nothing to me and I kept on listening. Actually, God made me very aware that He didn't approve of my whole lifestyle. I tried to find excuses. I brought it up with various Christians who I looked up to in the hope they'd say something to make me feel like I was ok to carry on with my lifestyle and still call myself a Christian. This release never came. Why? I'd become wishy-washy.
It's so obvious to me now, looking back. I'd profess to my friends that I was a Christian but my life choices said otherwise. We'd get into debates and I'd add more water to my faith to make sure I didn't offend them. I became so dilute in my faith that I had become offensive to God. I'd put my friendships and lifestyle above God.
God always looked after me and kept me safe when I made choices that could have landed me a front page bad news story. It is so evident now that I was like the people of the church of Laodicea. I was so lukewarm. But God knew I'd come back. I believe this is why He kept me safe when I was completely out of control. God kept knocking on my heart. And I felt it. I chose to ignore it until I was ready.
God proved a point to me one night. One night when I lived alone at the age of 17, my emotions got the better of me. This wasn't uncommon. I was an emotional wreck regularly at this age for many reasons. I would typically turn to heavy music, drink and self harm to deal with it. Self harming would bring a release. Something to focus on and bring about a calm. This particular night, I can't remember why, but the emotions were overwhelming. I went to turn on my music but my stereo had packed up. This release that the enemy subtly promised me was gone. I didn't know how to deal with it. Then it hit me. I should be turning to God first before all this rubbish. He never breaks His promises. He is always there when we need Him. He's no quick fix. He is the ultimate fix!
I made the decision to throw my lifestyle away. The evening before bin day I put all my music and clothing related to that lifestyle in the dustbin. I cut ties with those people. I prayed to God to come in. To replace the things I'd let go of with Godly things. My release from that lifestyle came when I heard the bin men come round in the morning. What a strangely freeing sound that was!!
I have come to realise that my younger Christian years probably caused more harm than good. How was my life reflecting Jesus? It wasn't. At all. I still made mistakes after this. I still do. But I stand my ground now. God has given me the strength and passion to rearrange my priorities. God is number one. I will not dilute my faith to keep any person happy.
'Hillsong' did a song which sprang to mind while writing this. The chorus goes:
I will not be moved, and I'll say of the Lord
You are my shield, my strength, my portion
Deliverer, my shelter, strong tower
My very present help in time of need.
When is my time of need? I have to admit, I'm pretty needy every day! Why? Because I've already proven to myself and others I'm useless and ineffective without Him. God should be with us in all we do at all times. He and He alone should be number 1 in our lives.
Author: Samantha Tarplin
May God bless and enrich your life
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