For the whole story, read this, beginning with Part 1. The condensed version can be found in Part 6. Links to the entire series can be found on the blog sidebar.
I knew I was taking a risk in finally posting online the whole story of my "fall to grace". I thought of just posting Part 6, the "condensed version", since that was what I had posted publicly before. But, for several years, I had felt that God was urging me to share more of my journey. Several recent events, emails, and other online conversations indicated strongly, at least to me, that now was the time.
It has been such a blessing to me the way that God has used this series of posts to encourage and minister to others. I'm grateful for those who have encouraged me by posting their comments and by emailing me.
When I was deciding how to tell my story, I was tempted to take a more theological approach. But, frankly, there are those who can do --- and who have already done --- this much better than I possibly could. I was also tempted to write it less personally, more guardedly, more "safely". But then I decided to let the story tell itself, to share my journey as openly as possible. After all, it is an intensely personal story. I hoped that the value in telling it was worth the risk.
Knowing that my journey has resonated with others, that readers have found encouragement in my words, that we have all been encouraged to focus more on Jesus than on our own feeble efforts --- ah, that has made it all worth it.
But I also knew, in writing something both so personal and controversial, that there would be much room for misunderstanding. I expected accusations of antinomianism; surprisingly, these have not come yet. I expected that those who still believed and lived as I once did would probably not react with enthusiasm to my story. I expected that some readers would not understand what all the fuss was about, and why I dedicated so many posts to this one topic.
I didn't quite know what to expect from my readers who also know me in "real life". Some walked through this journey with me, and felt that my telling of the story was long overdue. For some, it was like a "trip down memory lane". Some who didn't know me "back in the day" still rejoiced over my finding greater freedom in Christ.
But the response has not been all positive. I've been accused of studying and reading too much --- an accusation I find interesting since I am almost ashamed to admit how little I have studied over the past few years. Yes, I studied intensely eight years ago, but I have hardly kept up that sort of pace since then.
I've been accused of not focusing enough on Christ, and this is something I take very much to heart. It is, I cannot help but admit, entirely true. I do not practice His Presence as I should. I do not pray without ceasing. My walk with Him consists of too much stumbling, too much standing in one place, too much balking, too much foot-dragging, too much running off in wrong directions. As one of my favorite hymns says, I am "prone to wander...prone to leave the One I love". May He "take my heart and seal it". I am so thankful that He is sanctifying me; my efforts are so inadequate. May I turn my eyes more on Jesus. May I walk more closely with Him.
In addition, I have been accused of self-righteousness. May it never be. May I always remember that the only righteousness I have is the righteousness of Christ. Mine is but filthy rags. God forgive me when I forget this.
Friends, pray for me. My journey is far from over. I want to fight the good fight and run the race with endurance but, as those who know me know all too well, I am weak. I can only hope that Jesus will give me the strength I need, that He will carry me, that His grip on me will never fail.
I believe there is much value in our redemptive stories, especially when we try to tell them to the glory of God. Over the past few months, I've caught new glimpses of the journeys that some of my friends and acquaintances have been on since we hung out together back in the day. God has brought many of us to a place of greater freedom in Him. Some of the roads we have taken have been rockier than others. I would encourage all my fellow travelers on this journey towards Jesus --- all of those who follow Christ --- to share your redemptive stories. You never know how your story may bless someone else, and how the telling of it may be used by God in your life as well.