Wrestling with Assurance, Part 2

My pastor really tried to give me assurance that I was in Christ. But the more I talked to her, the more I realized she and I didn’t believe remotely the same. I started to wonder about her assurance. “Are you really in Christ? Do you really know God, or do you just know about Him?” Suddenly, my perspective started to change. Maybe I really do know God because I have been seeking Him with everything I have. I am not seeking Him with my mind. I am seeking Him with my heart. I desire Him. I want to know Him.
I remember Rhett. He was an employee of our firm. He worked on a lot of my jobs. I remember he knew God. It was evident. He was full of love. It was this love I had never seen before. He wasn’t flirty. It wasn’t even a brotherly love. It was just this love—I couldn’t understand it. It didn’t have any judgment attached to it or anything. He introduced me to this thing called agape, which is unconditional love regardless of how you behave. If you are a sinner, no matter how much sin you are in, I love you because God loves you. 

You know what? It is God’s kindness that leads man to repentance. It’s not man’s judgment. It’s not God’s anger leading man to repentance. It’s not God’s judgment leading man to repentance. It’s His kindness. That is how good God is. He is kind. When people experience His kindness, it leads them to repentance.
So I was able to learn from Rhett that there was this love available from God. I can have it and experience it. But the problem was that I still wasn’t really sure. Here was the roadblock for me. I didn’t understand the fullness of God’s forgiveness of me. But when I said yes to Him, He erased everything. I didn’t have to be at some place. I didn’t have to be perfected. I didn’t have to be changed. I didn’t have to change my ways. The moment I said yes, He erased my past. See, I had not erased my past. It was still on the hard drive of my mind. It was so evident; it would haunt me every day. I had so much regret, shame, and pain associated with my past that I couldn’t erase it.

One day I was in a Bible study with three hundred people, and the teacher talked about how Moses had failed and how God had forgiven him. At the end of his life, even though he couldn’t go to the Promised Land, God, in His love, allowed him to see where the people he had led for forty years would go. He let him see their future. “This is the prosperity all of these people will have that you have led them to. This is the fruit of your labor.” God used that moment and woke me up. He shook me, and He gave me this message: “If I can forgive Moses, I can forgive you.”

What He gave Moses wasn’t just forgiveness; it was grace. It was like a gift. He didn’t have to show him where those people were going. He didn’t need to do that. That wasn’t required. It was the love of God upon Moses. It is who God is. It is His character. He is love.

I remember I left there and took a pamphlet of assurance. I read it when I sat in my car. The rain was pouring down. I sat in my car and sobbed. I wept. I was like, “I forgive myself, God. I let it go. I will stop reminding You of my failures. I will stop speaking of my past sins because they have been erased. They are gone. And because I have sinned so much, I love You so much.” I literally spent one hour weeping with joy over it. It was a relief. It was literally as if no man ever needed to tell me I was assured. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I know to this day that I am assured of my salvation. I remind myself of it. That is who God is. He is in the business of forgiving and forgetting. I want to be like Him. I want to forgive and forget and not to build walls or change relationships with people because they have offended me. I don’t want to be one of those people who builds up a monument to their past with the way people have treated them or offenses taken. I want those things removed. I want to be loyal. I want to be a stayer, not a player. 

When you forgive and forget, the past is gone. You can’t say, “I can’t trust you,” “I won’t hurt you,” “I can’t trust you because you hurt me,” or “I can’t trust you because you did this,” because you have forgotten it. You just continue on. I think it’s love and unity.
I get God’s kingdom now because I understand forgiveness and forgetting. Although my flesh is offended at times, it quickly gets out of it. It quickly resolves. It quickly forgives. It quickly gets back into trust. It quickly surrenders. After what God did for me, how can I not do that for others? How can I not live in forgiveness and forgetfulness?
I praise God for the assurance He has given me. If you are holding on to any guilt or shame, I want you to know Jesus came so you would not have to live in guilt, condemnation, or shame. It is not your portion. It’s not your prize. Your prize is freedom from it. You also have been forgiven. God has forgotten. Stop reminding Him of the sins you have done and the past you have because He remembers them no more. Man may remember and rub your nose in it, but God does not. And He never will. You are forgiven. It’s forgotten. And guess what? You get the opportunity to follow in His footsteps and ask Him for this same heart.
I ask, Father, right now, that You would make us all forgivers and forgetters in Jesus’ name. 

One step ahead too self-development

Forgive yourself when you fail.
I’ve gone two whole months without failing. I haven’t raised my voice. I haven’t gotten angry. I haven’t been offended. I haven’t been hurt, whatever. You know that’s not true. It’s really not possible. We’re flawed human beings by design. The truth is I’ve failed already today in a big, hard way. It’s only three o’clock in the afternoon when I’m writing this. Today, I’ve been angry and bitter and holding a grudge against my husband and honestly, keeping a record of wrongs on his behalf. Because he won’t keep his own record of wrongs, I have to keep it for him and make sure that I correct him when he’s wrong.
Of course, I fail. I fail, sometimes, moment by moment. I fail in being disciplined. I fail in eating right. I fail in spending enough time with my kids. I fail in harboring bitter thoughts. I fail in becoming offended. I am a failure in so many ways.
Several years ago, I stepped into the freedom of forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I remember the day that I realized that I was truly forgiven and that I forgive myself. That day, I was set free. I have never been in bondage since.
In my Christian walk, there were times when I would get mad and frustrated, like, “Gosh I can’t believe I failed again. I’m such a failure.” Like, “Argh! Why do I keep screwing up? Why do I keep messing up? This is horrible. I know better.” I hated it. I hated myself. I was so mad.
But guess what, I wasn’t walking in the freedom of forgiveness that I once received. Scriptures said walk in the same way that you received Christ. That means if you know you’re forgiven the first day, then you’re forgiven the second day, the two thousandth day, the eighty two thousandth day, you’re forgiven. You can forgive yourself.
The Lord showed me that when I screwed up and I get up and I beat myself up about it, like, “Oh gosh, I can’t believe I did that. I messed up.” When I got up and beat myself up, that I was living in my works and my own effort and my own goodness and my own perfection. I was living in my blood as a sacrifice to God. I wasn’t living in the blood of Jesus. He showed me, “You fall, and you get right back up into my spirit, in the forgiving power of Jesus Christ. If you don’t, in that moment, in the middle, whether it’s a day or a month or year, you’re inoperable to work as my child because you’re too focused on you and what you’ve done. I need your eyes on me and what I’ve done and who I am and what I’m here to do. I don’t need your eyes on you. I need them on me.”
He showed me also that while I was beating myself up, I was saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough for me. Man, that’s just all out blasphemy. That is just arrogance beyond arrogance. Not only do we need to learn to forgive ourselves, we gotta forgive ourselves quickly.
You know, I think a lot of people think that means repentance. What does repent mean? They think it means crying in their closet like, “Oh God, please forgive me. I screwed up so bad. I’m a horrible person. I’m just a weak fleshly soul.” You know what they were doing when they say that? They are agreeing with their own self before they were in Christ. They’re agreeing with their old identity and completely ignoring who God says they are. Wow.
Have you done that before? I’m confident you have. I have done it. I lived that for years—just belittled myself. I talked horribly about myself. While I’m doing that, I’m completely disregarding the truth that God says: one, I am a new creation; two, I am made whole; three, I am the righteousness of Christ; four, I am forgiven and my sins have been erased forever; five, I’m his child and he delights in me; six, he’s not mad at me; seven, I don’t have to beg a God who loves me, a father who enjoys me; eight, I am whole. I’m just whole. Nothing can change my identity. My behavior cannot steal my wholeness. It’s impossible.
So here’s what God convicted me to do—I didn’t learn this from anyone. There’s no teacher who taught me, I didn’t watch it on TV. I didn’t hear it from my pastor. I haven’t heard it from a friend. But I struggled and I wrestled for a very long time, beating myself up because I wasn’t perfect. So I know. This is my story. I’ve walked these shoes. This isn’t a preacher’s message. This is straight out of the heart of God and you need to hear it.
What God showed me to do—when I messed up, he said, “Though righteous man falls seven times, he gets up.” He said, “Sheri, get up. Lift your chin. Do you know who you are in me? You’re already forgiven. Do you think what you just did was a surprise to me? It wasn’t. It wasn’t a surprise. I’m not shocked by you. I knew it already. Here’s what I love about you, Sheri. You fall and you keep choosing me and you choose me, and you choose me again because you know that I love you. You know me. We’re intimate. We’re close. Your mistakes don’t steal from our relationship.”
So he showed me when you fall down, get up and say, “Thank you father that I’m forgiven. Thank you, father, that I’m not defined by what I do. Thank you, father, that I am the righteousness of your son. Thank you, father, that I’m a new creation and I’m not of this world. Thank you, father, that I’m completely forgiven. I receive right now in the name of Jesus. I thank you, father, that you make me whole, that you make me complete. I thank you, father, that I am yours and you’re not mad at me and you’re not a mean God like my parents were. No. I thank you, father, that you are so in love with me; that you delight in me; that we’re friends; that I can come to you and talk about my struggles. You keep me whole, that my identity has not changed; that I’m secure; that Jesus Christ was enough for me.”
You know what, I get up from that with the fullness of joy like you have never known. Somebody can call me and say, “Hey, can you help over my family member who is in the hospital on the verge of dying? Can you leave  for them right now?” And I can say with everything in me, “Yes.” I don’t feel unworthy because it’s Christ who makes me worthy and I stay worthy. I remain worthy even when my behavior isn’t worthy because it’s not based on me. It’s based on the blood of Jesus Christ, his love for us and what he did for us and that alone—that’s it. Nothing more. It’s never been based on you. It’s never been dependent on you and it never ever will be.
But if you get down and you beat yourself up, guess what, it will be about you. It will be about you trying to make things right with God. It will be about you trying to get yourself back in the right place with the Lord. It will be about you and your behavior and what you’re not. It will be about you begging God because you don’t think you’re worthy to come to the throne with grace and boldness. You don’t think he wants to. You don’t think he’s delighted to give you the desires of your heart.
But he is. You have to forgive yourself and you have to do it quickly. Forgive and forget.