I became a Believer when I was 19.
For 10 years, I was a Believer in words only, not in actions. Sure, I went to church, I even taught Sunday school.
For 10 years, I was a Believer in words only, not in heart. I sinned freely, just not the kind where everybody knew what I was doing. I was still the leader of my life, I went where I wanted to go and if I knew God was uncomfortable going, I’d ask Him for forgiveness later or I’d just take it for granted that He would forgive me or I’d just wait until I stacked up a whole bunch of sins and then have a real big, tears streaming down my face, falling at the altar, repentance party.
For 10 years, I was a Believer in words only, not in behavior. Then, God sent me my husband. He challenged me.
Discipline Says, “I Need To”
To everybody else, I was the model for Christian womanhood, but he saw through the façade. He asked me to read the Bible and talk with him about it. The nerve?! He pointed out my sin.
Oh, no he didn’t?!
He wanted me to memorize scripture. For what?!
And then, he wanted to make peace with me when I wanted to stay mad. Now, that’s just too far!!
Our first years of marriage were rocked with this tug-of-war. He would ask me to do spiritual disciplines and I would do them, begrudgingly. I knew that these were things that good Christians should do, but I was good at faking it and the real thing had no appeal to me. It was boring. And it was hard.
All this marital bliss exploded one day during an argument. I was being stubborn, again and he was being godly, again. He matter-of-factly posed a question to me that he had never asked before, “Tanisha, have you truly accepted Jesus Christ as your savior?”
My initial response was defense, how dare he question my salvation? Me, the good girl that everybody loved? Me, the non-argumentative girl that everyone said was so sweet? Me, me, me!
This simple question had unveiled something very complex. If my husband, the one who lived with me day in and day out was questioning my faith, what did that mean? Was I an imposter? ME?! My husband’s doubt in my conversion spoke volumes. God revealed to me that for 14 years, I had been behaving in a way that indicated that I had not been changed thru my belief in Christ. Shook me to my core, a very rotten core, a very spoiled rotten core.
Duty Says, “I Ought To”
A clear milestone had been marked in my slow-growing faith. At this point, I was ready to acknowledge that something was off. I knew that I had trusted Christ, I was not doubting that. But for the first time ever in my life, I actually desired to be changed by God. But I couldn’t shake this dread that came over me when it was time to read the Bible. I just didn’t like it. I couldn’t understand it. My husband could. Other people at church could. Was it just me?
Right at this point of utter confusion about my lack of joy in Bible reading, my church began discussing a book together. This book fully explained the Good News in words that seemed to leap off the page. I saw clearly how much of the Gospel I was overlooking. For the first time, I understood how great the divide had been between me and God. It was no hop, skip and jump as I had pictured it. It was a grandest- of- canyons sized gap. Jesus had done a marvelous thing for me and I was not worthy despite all of my perceived goodness. I was understanding the Gospel in a new way, a way that was changing how I saw my sin and how I saw my Savior.
The rule-follower in me was still looking for, longing for the rule that could help me love reading the Bible. Then this book plainly explained that there was no formula for how to love Bible-reading and that the only way to grow spiritually was to abide in Jesus, and He would abide in you. So I started there. I made my home in Jesus and asked Him to help me love Him more fully, and help me to enjoy Bible reading. My soul was so tired of faking it, I was craving realness. Real connection to God. Real love for His word. Real living out my faith.
Devotion Says, “I Want To”
So, I prayed. Nothing profound. Just an honest, heart-felt request. And I waited. In faith. And He worked. In grace.
Daily, I read the bible and journaled. Weekly, I answered questions from the Bible and met with my small group to discuss our reflections.
Then, the opportunity to join a women’s Bible study presented itself. So this introverted girl started reading the Bible and discussing it with strangers. With each of these opportunities, God was reminding me of what I had asked Him for—If you really want to love My words, then read My words. Now read more of My words and talk about them. Now, read even more of My words and talk about them with some more people. Be uncomfortable for Me and I will use these things to make you comfortable in reading My word.
I had tried for years to pretend that I loved Bible reading. Waiting in faith had produced real fruit. Now I look forward to reading the Bible, not because I am a good Christian, but because He is a prayer-answering, good God.
I’m currently asking God to give me a love for praying. I’m expecting nothing short of a miracle.
Has God given you a devotion to something that was once foreign to you? Share your testimony.