I’m doing an IF:Equip study with some of my friends called “Redeemed.” It’s about looking at different stories from the Bible and how they have been passed down all these years as stories of God’s good work through the lives of ordinary folks. This week the study switched from studying others to looking at God’s good work in your own life and writing it down.
The summary question today is, “Is it easy for you to identify a ‘before’ and ‘after’ Christ in your story? If not, how did your relationship with Christ grow and change throughout your story?”
This question got me thinking…do I really have a before and after? I was raised in a Christian environment; I’ve always known Jesus, yet a big chunk of my life was spent searching for something to fill the God-shaped hole.
Enter the relationship thermostat…that’s the best way I can describe my relationship with Jesus. My relationship with Him has never been on or off, before or after, it’s been warm and cold and everything in between.
As a child, being steeped in stories, activities, and church-based community, I’d say my relationship with Christ was warm. I knew and loved His character and felt comforted by the stories and miracles I was taught. Through my teenage years I was still steeped in church culture, but my relationship was growing cooler. I began looking toward people, achievements, and objects to fulfill me.
As I grew into adulthood my relationship turned from cool to cold-shouldered. I didn’t see the need, or quite frankly understand, having and pursuing a relationship with Jesus. I simply went through the motions- going to church on Sunday, singing in the choir, volunteering for different events-and hoped my good deeds and rule following would get me through the pearly gates. I didn’t need Jesus- I was an adult and I could adult on my own. Except, there was this nagging unease. A goal that never felt met as I continued to do life alone spiritually.
Becoming a military spouse and a person in recovery bumped up the thermostat on my relationship with Jesus. I was in uncharted waters as the person I put all my hopes and faith in was deployed. I felt completely untethered as one deployment turned into a completely unexpected two on the heels of the first. When life turned cold and hard my relationship with Jesus began to thaw and warm.
The temperature turned up again when I realized getting up at 0500 to have some quiet time with God was enjoyable. At 30 years of age, lukewarm was the temperature of my relationship with Jesus-warm enough to be a comfort but still cool enough to doubt when life got hard.
But God-He’s relentless and hardship by hardship He continued to put the pressure on me to turn up the thermostat. The shift in temperature for me was gradual-degree by degree as I was met with circumstances that I could not longer control. As my life grew more chaotic my relationship with Him grew warmer.
Today’s relationship temperature is at a simmer-It keeps warm even when outside is cold. I don’t know that I’m a soul on fire quite yet, but seeing how God has pursued me, changed me, redeemed things I didn’t think could be redeemed-definitely warms me from the inside out.