I’ve always been a “good girl”. I prayed to accept Jesus as my Savior when I was somewhere around five, and though I’ve had countless moments of choosing sin over righteousness, I wouldn’t say I’ve ever lived in gross immorality. I’ve gone through my years as a Christian with a polar, almost contradictory perception of my sin. On one hand, sin and its effects were never overt in my life. It has been hard, at times, to see exactly what is so bad about me that Christ had to die. On the other hand, though, I have almost daily looked at myself and seen nothing good, nothing valuable, nothing worth loving, and wondered why on earth Jesus would want to die for me. I know I’m not perfect, but sometimes, it feels like I’m not imperfect enough to really know what grace is all about.
And I’ve lived my life kind of wondering what my testimony is…what has God really done for me. I mean, REALLY done? What hope would I have to offer to someone who is like me, but just doesn’t know Jesus? Because there are “good” people out there. People who are trying to be perfect. People who have acted with some modicum of wisdom. People who may not think they need rescuing. I had a thought in church today that that’s what I might be like if I didn’t know Jesus. I thought, maybe, I wouldn’t recognize my need for a Savior…and someone telling me about how much of a sinner I am probably wouldn’t convince me.
It’s something that has always frustrated me. I’ve felt like I have no testimony. In many (not all) ways, I can’t say that my life is any better, or any different even than someone who is trying to be good on their own. Yes, I can identify blessings in my life, or times when God has clearly answered prayer, but I also know that it wouldn’t be too hard for someone isn’t a Christian to just chalk those things up to coincidence or luck. I have felt thoroughly unequipped to tell the reason for the hope I have…in large part, I think, because I can’t really remember not having this hope.
But, that’s changed in recent months. Maybe so I could understand, maybe for some as-yet unknown reason…I’m not sure. Either way, I have gone through a season of life where God has seemed absent. For the most part, I haven’t been able to see His face or hear His voice, or find in Him comfort or strength or peace or anything else. I haven’t become derelict. I haven’t abandoned my morals. I haven’t stopped seeking Him. But it seemed that life lost its meaning.
Because the truth of the matter is that while, yes, I am a sinner, it is the consequence of sin that is the ultimate problem. And while serving the Lord brings with it blessing, it isn’t a cure-all (on this side of eternity) for sin and weakness and sadness and frustrations and all the other things that I could be tempted to say that the gospel fixes. Life will always be a mess. But the reason we need Jesus is because we have lost our relationship with the Lord. We have been cut off from our One reason for being. Our souls, saved or not, long for fellowship with our Creator. No matter how good or not good we are, no matter what earthly, tangible consequences we have seen or not seen for our sin, that one consequence of separation from the lover of our souls, is enough to cause any person’s heart to thrash about in desperation.
We are made to worship Him. We are made to rely on Him for strength and comfort and peace and guidance and wisdom and purpose. We are made to find our life in Him. We just are. And though there are people who try to fill that void in their hearts with things that don’t look horrendous on the outside, the reality of the void is the same, and the fruitlessness of their efforts to fill it on their own is the same. The person who has chosen a path of self-destruction, loose morals and aimless pursuits isn’t in any greater need of a Savior than the person who is trying to do everything right in the hopes of attaining some sense of purpose. Both types of people are missing out on life, because life is only found in fellowship with the God of the universe, and that fellowship only comes through Jesus Christ.
I’m sure I would have said I knew this before, but I didn’t really know how my soul would reel from not having Him intimately involved in my days. I didn’t know how lost I would feel, how helpless. I didn’t know how frantically I would be searching for Him. And this was all while still having a certainty that He had my life in His hands, that my salvation was secure.
So, while I may not be able to easily enumerate all of the sinful habits that I have been redeemed from, I understand so much more clearly now the lost-ness that we are all born into, and that no matter how we choose to try to fill the gaping hole in our hearts, the need is the same. The yearning is the same. And the remedy is the same. It’s a testimony that every Christian shares, no matter what the particulars of their sin have been. Reconciliation to God. Relationship with our Heavenly Father. Intimacy with the King of kings and Lord of lords. Good news. Amazingly wonderful news. This is the reason for the hope that I have.