When I first got saved some 9 years ago, I had what I call an “Ephesians 2” experience. It is an experience that will forever be engrained in my mind. The purpose of this post is more to encourage you than to boast about myself. I pray that you would be encouraged and that this post would give you insight more than anything else.
As a child, I grew up with some very controlling parents. Bless them, I love them very much, but there really wasn’t a whole lot I could do or say to get their approval as a kid. When I went away to college, I finally thought I would be rid of this, but still, some 2,000 miles away, I still felt their pressure and the disappointment of never satisfying them. I didn’t realize it at the time, but all I really wanted was for my parents to tell me how proud of me they were. I felt like I had met every standard that they had set out before, but never felt like I had actually accomplished something.
Then when I got saved, I soon found how this behavior played out in my life in a different way. Again, not knowing this at the time, all I wanted to do was to please God. But, the only way I knew how to please Him was the way that I tried to please my parents, which was to strive my guts out until I could some how find some type of approval. This played out in a big way for me. If I missed a day of reading my Bible, I would force myself to read twice as much the next day. The same would go for prayer, I would pray twice as long or twice as more as the day before, if I had missed. Slowly but surely, my life with Jesus was a lot of work and I was feeling like I wasn’t getting anything out of it. Jesus wasn’t giving me much approval for all the hard work I was putting out.
It was at this time that I started to fall into some of my old patterns in life and started to draw away from the Lord. It was then that two men, one of which was my best man at my wedding and the other someone I looked up to, had decided that I need a breakthrough in my relationship with Jesus. They saw that I was starting to slip back into some things. So we set up a time to just pray and be before God.
I had no idea how impactful this time would be for me. One of the guys would ask me some questions on my relationship with the Lord. I just spilled my guts and told him honestly that it was hard work and I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere. Then after a while he told me to open up my bible to Ephesians 2:8-10. He told me to read the verses out loud. I felt a little weird doing this, but I went along with it. So I read the passage out loud. Nothing. He told me to read it again. So I did. Again nothing. Then he told me to read it until he told me to stop. At this point, I am a little annoyed, but I went along with it. I started to read the passage over and over. Finally, as I am reading my fifth time through it, I GET IT!! “For it is by grace that I have been saved, it is a gift, and not by works!!!” I burst into this sob and tears are now flowing down my face.
I get it, everything that I have been doing to please God by reading more and praying more was just exhausting me and I was ready to throw in the towel. But it all made sense to me now. God didn’t care if I didn’t pray every day or read my Bible every day because the gift of salvation was by grace and nothing that I could have done!! I could have read my Bible 20 times in one year and he wasn’t going to love me more or less because of it. It was like a huge weight had just been taken off of my shoulders. I continued to weep and cry out to God and thank Him that it is for grace that I have been saved.
Since then, that day has been monumental for me. I continually realize how I am saved by grace and nothing I can do will make God love me more. He loves me for who I am, not for what I do! And so my hope as I share this story is that if there is anyone that is reading this and can relate to this, that they would realize that God loves you, regardless of what you have done, good or bad. It is because He died on the cross for our sins that we are saved through Him, not because we are good Christians or sin less than someone else. So if you are feeling like you have to prove yourself to God, STOP! You have nothing to prove to Him, he loves you for who you are. He sees through all of the “stuff” in our lives and is proud of who we are and loves us the same!!
May God bless the broken hearted and continue show us His love in a mighty way!! I pray that you too would have an “Ephesians 2” experience if you need to experience God’s love!
Be blessed and love like you never have!!