Thursday, June 04, 2009

I Was a Defeated, Backslidden Christian!

   For many years I lived a defeated, back-slidden, Christian life. What I mean by that, is that what I thought constituted being a good Christian, just didn't work for me. I felt like a constant failure in Christian living and was seriously considering ditching the God of the Bible and embracing the religion of atheism.
   Then, one day, God sent a woman named Ruth Young from Chatsworth, GA to knock on my door (one of those "visits" back-slidden Christians hate so much!). She was sent to ask me if I ever read my Bible.
   I didn't. But her question intrigued me. So instead of answering her, I asked her a question back.
   I said, "Have you ever read your Bible all the way through?"
   Her answer blew me away: "Oh Honey, if you read four chapters a day, you will  read the entire Bible through every year and the New Testament twice. I have been doing that for 25 years!"
   I did the math.
   This was earth-shaking, life-changing, and transforming advice for me--because up to that point, I had viewed the Bible as an impossible book to read all the way through (and I am a reader!), and I did not know anyone who had done it.I don't know that I believed my pastors had done it.
   Ruth Young's testimony opened up a whole new world of possibility to me as far as a relationship with my Creator was concerned. I was born again at the age of six, but up to the day God's woman from Chatsworth, GA knocked on my door, I had only approached my Savior from a religious perspective...and religion was not working for me.
   What I needed was a relationship.
   But how can you have a relationship with someone you barely know?
   Her obedience, testimony, and wise counsel changed the course of my life.
   Some will say, "But look at the marital unfaithfulness, abuse, and domestic violence you suffered, for years after that? How can you call that a transformed life?
   My response: "Can you imagine what my life would have been like if I had gone through these things without knowing God and being confident of his love and help? No one says Christians will always make the right decisions or never experience abuse or suffering. I know that I would not be alive, today, and serving God with confidence in His Word, His love, and His peace in my heart, had that moment in my life never happened, where Ruth Young obeyed the Holy Spirit of God by making and uninvited (and I felt at the time, unwelcome) appearance at my front door." 
  Since 1981, I have followed her advice. I read my Bible every day, always picking up today where I left off yesterday. I made a commitment, in 1981, to establish time with the Lord, in His Word, every day. I have kept that commitment. 
   It was much more difficult at first than it is now.
   At first it was a discipline that I knew my relationship and faithfulness to God absolutely depended on. Some mornings, I felt like reading my Bible and other mornings (probably most mornings at the time) I did not feel like reading my Bible. I overcame this reluctance on morning I just "didn't feel like it," by telling myself that I "needed it even more today," because I didn't feel like it. And that was so true.
   Today, my morning-time in the Word of God is like mother's milk. I look forward to it even before I go to be the night before. That is the transforming power of the Written Word of God, when approached as part of a relationship and not a religious duty.  
   My daily visit with the LORD OF ALL THE EARTH (not limited to just one), always begins in the morning. And the Holy Spirit always meets me, as I grab my coffee and my Bible. The Word of God seeping into my spirit and sleepy consciousness, never fails to inspire and strengthen me for the day ahead.
   This is a daily--moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, one day at a time--walk with God. And without fail, after just a few moments, Jesus and I are having a good visit. It is always more than just reading—It really is a deeply personal time that I spend together with my Savior.
   Some may object, claiming that getting ready for work (and children off to school) makes morning time for the Bible impossible.
   My response: You cannot afford not to make time for Jesus and your own personal growth in your relationship with Him (this will carry over into every area of your life).
   When my children were young, my personal time had to be finished before 6am in order to get them out of bed and ready for school. Then, for many years after that, I had to be ready for work five mornings a week. 
   Sometimes my job required me to travel extensively. At one point, I was on the road for six weeks out of the eight!  My morning visit with God traveled with me—I did not leave my routine at home. The value of establishing that daily habit stood me in good stead during some very hectic times in my life, when I might have otherwise let fall to the wayside the very thing I needed most.
   On another occasion I was required to work from 8:00 each morning to almost midnight each night, in addition to the hour commute each way. During that time, I never wavered in my routine. I became disciplined to make time for the Word of God despite work schedules, business, or family obligations.
   Make time for your personal relationship with your Savior, through getting to know Him and His will, by reading His Word. You cannot afford to neglect this part of your relationship with your Savior. Do this every day, always picking up today where you left off yesterday. Do not allow the television, radio, or internet activity (social media, email, etc.,) to be the thing that starts your day each morning. Put God and His Word FIRST.
   Each of us makes time for things that are truly important to us. Try making and keeping a commitment to know your Savior and his Bible better. Spend time with him on a daily basis, and see if that does not make a wonderful difference in your life.
   For me, it really was as simple as that.

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