I've shared a few different times about how I love the blogging community. I have been so inspired, challenged, taught, entertained, and encouraged through blog reading and blogging these past couple years. I pretty much never watch TV anymore; when I need to fill my need for relaxation "vegging out" time, I read blogs.
One lady I've been blessed to get to know in this space is Debbie from The Way We Are. She is so sweet, displaying beautiful joy and an obvious faith. She raised four children and I love hearing her perspective and treasure her encouragement over things I post about my life. She recently asked an interesting question on her blog, "What Does Being A Christian Mean To You?"
I thought it was such a great topic that I'm sharing my answer in an entire post!
A big reason I write my blog is to capture my thoughts, my life, my beliefs right now in this stage of life for my children to maybe read later when they are old enough to understand. I know as years go on I will forget what this stage was really like and this blog shows my kids aspects of real life from their early childhoods. Also, I had a cancer scare once and although I'm completely healthy, I no longer just assume I'll be there to when my kids graduate high school and when they are raising their own babies. So, when I think of blogging on what being a Christian means to me, I'm really thinking what I'd want my kids to hear when they are a bit older.
I'm a little scared to write this post for fear I'll leave out something key and because I don't have hours to pour into it, but I'd rather write it incompletely than never write it at all. So here goes. . .
First of all, I give you an honest view of my Bible. It usually sports a black leather zippered cover for obvious reasons, but underneath, here it is:
I've had this Bible since I was a child and I kept it under my nightstand in college. I had one of those rockin' $4 round tables covered with a table cloth as my nightstand, so the area underneath was perfect for storing my Bible close to my bed. Only problem was that it was also easy access for the puppy I got my junior year in college and became a very holy chew toy. Thankfully the actual Bible text pages were unharmed!
I keep this Bible because to me it illustrates so much of the truth contained in it, as a Christian life many not always be pretty and life in the earthly world may threaten to chew us up, but if at our core is Jesus, that is all that matters and our life will be preserved.
Here are some key things that being a Christian means to me:
1. I am adopted into God's family
Ephesians 1:5, "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will..."
I came from a pretty dysfunctional biological family. There was a time in my teenage years when I realized how hopeless my situation was if I was destined to follow the path of my earthly, biological parents. But, by His grace, God showed me that I could be set free from my earthly legacy and adopted into His family. My status as God's child is huge in my life and I don't even want to imagine where I'd be without that. And the facts that He is with me (Psalm 23:4) and will not leave me (Gen. 28:15) and will not ever abandon me (Psalm 94:14) are ever present comforts to me.
2. As a Christian I have a new life
2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
My sins have been forgiven for all time through Jesus's death on the cross. This does not mean that I continue to sin, because I am a new creation, I desire to please God and walk in His ways. And when I fail, I can confess, repent, and start anew. With this new life I strive to follow Jesus and be more like Him each day, living my life with Him as my example.
3. Eternal Life
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
This earthly life is not all there is. I have the hope of eternity in heaven with Jesus where the Bible says, "He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain" Rev. 21:4. And the streets are, "pure gold, like clear glass" Rev. 21:21. This gives me hope when things here on earth are not as they should be. When I hear stories of children in terrible situations, when I experience personal loss or hurt. Also, this knowledge of eternal life frees me from feeling like I need to be entirely fulfilled here on earth. I do not need every success, comfort, happiness, material thing here and now, because those things all pale in comparison to what God has waiting in heaven.
4. It's not all about me
Luke 9:23, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me."
I really am so thankful that there is more to this life than me. And really it's not about me at all. It's about God, and the tiny piece of His story, the bit of His work, that He's doing with my life. My purpose is to build His kingdom and not mine. And if you've ever done any kingdom building work, you know it is way more exciting and fulfilling than any personal acclaim, raise, promotion, or material thing you could get! And the plans God has for me are so much better than anything I'd come up with on my own, "'For I know the plans that I have for you' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'" Jer. 29:11.
5. Privilege of prayer
1 John 5:14, "And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
What a privilege and blessing it is to be able to talk to God whenever I want! To ask for help and He often provides it (although not always in the form I had in mind!). Also, I find the privilege of prayer gives me hope when I would otherwise feel helpless. Recently while at the local children's hospital for travel shots, a little girl, 7 or 8 years old I'd guess, got on the elevator with a nurse and her dad. She was bald and attached to an IV, yet had a joy about her. My heart ached for what I assumed she was going through, what her family was going through, yet in the 45 seconds our paths crossed in the elevator I could not help her. But, I can pray for her, and my children and I now often do! I am thankful to be able to petition God, the great healer and comforter on her behalf and so many others.
6. Abundant Life
John 10:10, "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly."
I think some people mistakenly believe that being a Christian is a boring way to live. But, really when you are following Jesus it is the best ride ever! Every day is an adventure! You never know who He will bring into your life or what circumstances, and you are always challenged to be His light to the dark places of this world. And it's pretty awesome to have the God who created the entire universe on your side!
I'll end with a prayer I say for my children but I pray it as well for all of you reading, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of His glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe." Eph 1:18-19
Thanks Debbie for challenging me to get this down on electronic paper!
Find more Thankful Thursday here.