Vicky P.

Vicky P.

from MO
Story #632
The summer of my 11th birthday, the military had just moved my family to a new town, and we started regularly attending a nearby church. Another new girl at church befriended me and we were immediately inseparable. She spent the night at my house frequently, and one night as we were going to sleep, she said, “Good night. I’ll see you in the morning, and if I don’t, I’ll see you in Heaven.” At age 11, I thought this was way, over the top lame, but I responded politely--if not sarcastically-- with, “Yeah, sure hope so!” My young friend wisely took that as the opportunity it was to share the Gospel with me.

She told me that I was loved by God. I joked again and said, “I better not do anything too bad,” but she wasn’t having any of this joking. She told me straight up that God’s love isn’t about what I do--I don’t have to be careful and be good enough because I’m already loved and all of my sin is already taken care of. She told me a story about Jesus, a man who is the same as God, but who out of love, came to earth, lived a perfect life, suffered under fearful and selfish human beings, and got executed like a criminal, but then all of a sudden was alive again. She told me that him being alive again opened the gate for everyone to be alive again. I believed the story and we prayed together.

The next morning, I was too afraid to tell my mom what happened. To this day, I can’t say what exactly I was afraid of, but I do know that fear was characteristic of my life and faith for a very long time. From this time though college, I obeyed God the best I could, and I looked from the outside very mature for my age, and at church mature kids and teenagers are seen as “good Christians,” so I thought I was doing pretty well. In reality, I had a very immature and cursory understanding of the implications of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

The realization that I was still striving to earn God’s approval, love, and help came when I was about 23. I had reached a zenith of not just legalism but also superstition. I was exhausted from working two jobs and my friend--now my husband but at the time we had only recently met--wanted to help, so he took a microscope to my life. He asked when I got up in the morning. My answer: Unnecessarily early. He asked how much sleep I got. My answer: Roughly half of what doctors recommend. He asked me question after question about why I was doing this, and at the end of the conversation, I had realized that I was killing myself to get an hour in scripture and an hour in prayer everyday before work. Reading the Bible and praying are good and important, but when I was forced to examine my reasons for doing it, I realized that I spend this hour reading the Bible and praying not because it was life-giving, not because it strengthened me, not because I loved spending so much time with God, but because I truly believed that if I didn’t show God how much I loved him and how “good” I was, he wouldn’t help me. And let me tell you, I needed so much help.

Since then, I have seen more and more ways that my actions don't reveal trust in my life. I always need reminders that I don't earn God's love, that I didn't earn Jesus’ death as payment for my wrongdoing, and that I'll never earn the new life he gives. Jesus does all of the earning and all of the loving purely out of who he is. All I need to do is repent, turn away from trying to earn approval and love by what I do, and instead turn to Jesus in trust that he loves me despite my folly, has taken care of my sin, and will not fail to give me new life.

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