I was 23 years old when I realized that God was calling me to surrender every part of my life to Him. God had been making Himself increasingly real to me throughout my entire life, but it wasn’t until this point that God made it very clear I wasn’t going to be free until I submitted everything to Him. As I gave Him my life – my will, my desires, my past, my future and my fears – something happened. He lifted something off of me. I hadn’t recognized how heavy the weight of sin actually was until it was gone. I suddenly had a peace deep within me that I never had before. Although I called myself a Christian all my life, this was the first time I knew what it was to be in the presence of God.
My relationship with God was so real and I was amazed at how wonderful it was for my soul to be in God’s presence. But…little by little, old habits of mine crept back into my life. As I let certain idols sneak their way back in, as I gave into entertainment that God had previously convicted me of, I pushed the conviction of God’s Spirit away so that I could enjoy myself. Weeks would go by, and many times months, before I realized how empty my life had become yet again. At times I was shocked by how far I let myself get away from God. During those falling away periods in the midst of my sinful pleasures, I ignored God – it was impossible to acknowledge Him while living for myself…He wouldn’t allow it. So in order to live like I wanted to, I had to ignore God. But by God’s mercy and grace He always allowed things in my life to get bad enough for me to snap out of the delusion of sin and recognize how much I needed Him! By God’s grace I would come to the point of recognizing how desperately I needed Christ.
Each time I repented and came back to the Lord, It was hard to understand how I could go back to living like that after knowing God’s glory for myself. I was dumbfounded how it was possible and even easy for me to forget what freedom in Christ was like. Sometimes all it took was a few minutes to be disillusioned by my sin. The Scripture is true when it says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9) I knew that God’s Holy Spirit gave power to overcome sin because I experienced first hand how He delivered me from strongholds in my life that had plagued me for years; but still, there were other habits in my life that He didn’t deliver me from….and I didn’t know why. There were still temptations in my life that weren’t removed.
I began asking God to show me what I was missing. I found that God didn’t promise to deliver us from all temptations in this lifetime but he did promise to give us the power to turn away from them (Romans 6:5-7). And there was another thing God kept bringing to my attention, and that was the church – the body of Christ. I was 25 years old by this time and although I had an active relationship with the Lord, I still wasn’t going to church. Because my husband wasn’t a Christian I feared that going to church might somehow put a divide in our relationship. (I was very wrong about this – another reason why “fear” doesn’t produce wise decisions)
At the end of 2015, my husband finished his service in the US Army, and we decided to start our new lives in Seattle, WA. Upon relocating to Seattle, I knew without a doubt that God was showing me I could no longer try to live this Christian life alone. I learned from the Revive Our Hearts ministry as well as in the Bible that being a part of other Christians’ lives was an important aspect of our walk with God. Although I wasn’t sure what it was that made it so important, I knew enough from my own failures to see that God didn’t create us to live in solitude. So I prayed, asking God to direct me to the church He had for me. I found Shoreline Community Church online and I asked God to make it clear to me that I was going to the right place. After stepping into the church one Sunday morning, I knew within a few minutes that God brought me there – immediately I felt God’s love so powerfully through the people in that church.
It’s now 1 year and 3 months later since I first began attending Shoreline Community Church, and I have been so absolutely blessed within that community of Christians. The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone, and it cannot be lived alone. God made us to be in community with other people. We need other people. And other Christians are one of the very important means of grace God has given to us. If you are a person who is struggling to live for God on your own, know that You are not meant to do it alone! There’s so much God wants to do in your life within a community of believers.
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another” Hebrews 10:23-25
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16
“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.” Colossians 3:16
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” Matthew 18:20
(New Living Translation used)