Eighteen years ago this week, God gave me a new heart.
The grace of it all still brings me to tears.
My story is one of a Pharisee.
I was raised in church (I was even born in a Baptist hospital) and could quote chunks of Scripture by age 10. I was a good girl, raised by the best parents, and I played the part pretty well. God gave my older sister and me wonderful, godly parents committed to the Lord and raised us in a sheltered and protected environment to fight for our holiness and God’s glory.
My sister is eight years older than I am and, as I entered my preteen years, she rebelled against the protective boundaries my parents established. As I watched what her actions did to my parents, I made a conscious (key word) decision that I would never hurt them that way. So I was good. I did the right things, said the right things, and for the most part always obeyed. I was the older brother in the prodigal son story. It wasn’t until a few years later that God showed me my “good works” were not good at all and were actually taking me farther from Him than closer to Him. My identity was grounded so deeply in performance, especially rifle (my sport), obedience to my parents, and rules in general. God saved me from my morality. That’s what He had to expose—how morality apart from the work of the Spirit is a slap in His face and deserving of His wrath.
In His kindness, the Lord led my rebellious heart to repentance and the reality that my goodness is filthy rags and that nothing I did or could ever do would ever be enough to earn God’s favor. To reveal a lot of this, He really used Titus 3:4-7,
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Praise for salvation that is not dependent on my works but His. By grace, He completely transformed my heart, removing the stone and putting in flesh (Ezekiel 36:26-27), and, though my outward behavior didn’t change that much, my desires and ambitions did, and He’s been transforming this weak heart ever since. Now I want to give my life away to helping women thrive and flourish in the Gospel while asking God to use all my days and minutes to point to the horror and glory of the cross and the empty tomb in any way possible. He is so good and so worthy of every ounce of this life.
That’s where my story begins.
“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of Him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to Heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives or children or the company of any or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”