I know, what am I doing? This section is all about the greatness of God; what on earth possessed me to write about myself? Well, that’s because over the last year I’ve really seen God at work in my life. And as Paul says:
“But, Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 10 v 17
The last impression I want to give is that I’m boasting of my own actions, no, for what grounds do I have to boast? Left to my own I wouldn’t be a Christian, left to my own I’d be sunk in sin and rebellion and left to my own I would head there now. But I’m not on my own – The Lord is my Shepherd. This is then is a story of God’s work; not of mine.
Now let me take you back in time to just last year. I was in a bad way spiritually, my Bible reading was minimal, I rarely truly concentrated on what I read, my prayer life was non existent, my Christian life was perfunctory at best and joyless at worst. I did nothing for Christ; I didn’t even go to my church’s prayer meeting. Do you know that spell from Harry Potter: stupefy? Yeah, that basically sums up my Christian life at this point. Two terrible things stand out for me: first was that compared to the year before that I was in a better spiritual state and second I thought I was fine. So good was I at pretending to be perfect that I even believed it myself. I was proud of my Christian walk; a Christian walk that didn’t exist!
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.”
Proverbs 16 v 18 – 19
What changed? The first glimmer of change was that in June last year I got baptised but that spiritual encouragement didn’t last long. I started going to my church’s prayer meeting more out of a sense of duty than willingness. God was beginning to work on me but I was still in a bad way. Next was that during the summer holidays I read “Boy Meets Girl” by Joshua Harris, it is a testament to his strong biblical style that a book on courtship could so refresh me spiritually. It was after reading his book, that I had picked up accidently upon seeing lying around my house, that God began to reveal to me that there was something wrong with my walk with him.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
1 Peter 3 v 15
I went to university still pretending to be perfect yet harbouring doubts, knowing that all was not right but not wanting to admit to myself. I started going to the CU regularly and two months in and I went on the CU weekend away. I went expecting to be disappointed by the quality of teaching, expecting, nay, wanting to be able to judge its theological content.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged”
Matthew 7 v 1
The speaker was Robin Sydserff and he spoke from James. I never got round to judging his talks instead in the mercy of God his talks were used to judge me. One thing he said in particular hit home like a ton of bricks.
“As Christians we need to live distinctive lives in this world.”
After the talk we went back to our cabins and I remember thinking over and over again: was my life distinctive in any way? And suddenly I saw my life in a new light, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to my spiritual position and by the grace of God what I saw disgusted me. I was appalled at how low I had sunk, how little I did for God and how badly I did it. I was shocked by my cowardice for the gospel, for not being salt or light to the world. I was overwhelmed by my sin.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
Matthew 5 v 13
God humbled me, showing me the sinfulness of my life. And so God stirred it up within me to turn back to him, to ask forgiveness and to plead for strength to turn around and walk closely with him again. “Father, work in me.” was now my constant prayer, second only to “Father, forgive me.”
“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.”
1 John 5 v 18
And as the weeks went by, bit by bit, slowly, slowly, with infinite patience, God did indeed work in me. Prayer meetings were no longer a trail, Bible reading was good, prayer became sporadic rather than non existent and I was given courage to speak to a few of my friends about the gospel.
At Christmas God’s work continued this time in the form of a book sent to me by a friend. It was “The Disciplines of a Godly Man” and it detailed seventeen in all. I was failing in every single one of them. The author recommended starting a prayer list which I did and miraculously, again in God’s goodness, that solved my problem with prayer. From January I was praying every morning and more than that, praying a lot more during the day as well.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
Ephesians 6 v 18
Near the end of January I came under the conviction that I could be doing a lot more for God with my time and thus this blog was born. It’s been an incredible blessing over these last months both with the encouragement I’ve received and the truths I’ve stumbled across in the Bible.
“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”
Romans 6 v 14
Looking back on the last year I can see how far God’s lifted me up and how very, very, very far there is to go. I’m still riddled with impatience, wanting prayers answered yesterday, not willing to wait on the Lord. There’s still a deep well of self centeredness that I have to struggle against. Unbelief and lack of faith dog my step. I should be showing more love, more joy and more gentleness in all I do. Pride still makes itself known and I don’t think I’ve submitted my studying habits under God’s will. In short, I’m still a sinner.
And the Lord is still my Shepherd. He still loves me, cares for me, has his own plan for me and he is working within me to sanctify me despite my own rebellion against that. Let me boast of his grace so thoroughly undeserved, of his love so vast and deep and of his glory so beyond comprehension. He brings me back to him again and again, reminding me of his unending goodness and incomparable love for me.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
1 John 3 v 1
My heart overflows with thankfullness and praise for my God for he oh so gently led me out of my spiritual darkness and worked in me that work of santification.
It’s been a year of God working in my life in ways I wasn’t often happy with. It’s been a year in which God pulled tore up my pretentions to perfection. It’s been a year of clinging to God. It’s been a good year. A year that has taught me to say:
“I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 91 v 2
In the mercy of God may this coming year teach me more. God willing next year I will once again boast in the Lord, boast of his powerful arm, his wisdom, his tenderness and the sacrifrice of his Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross for my sins. Me? I'm a rubbish Christian, always will be, but Jesus Christ is my perfect Saviour and he has become my righteousness, holiness and redemption.
“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1 v 30 - 31