Where did the past month go? I meant to write this post much sooner. I can tell you that I haven’t written because I had gallbladder surgery 10 days ago, that it’s harvest time on the farm and that I have many (perhaps too many) irons in the fire…including homeschooling our big kindergartener. All of that is true.Yet, I think the real reason I haven’t taken the time to write is because I promised a post about “empty religion” and how it once limited and defined me. I knew this one would be a hard one for me. One I’ve wanted to write for a long time, but haven’t because words escaped me. Today, I hope to keep it simple, to the point and free of trying to show my thoughts from every angle.
On August 11th, I was privileged to be at ReNEWed Life Women’s Event, a women’s conference I was blessed to help organize in our rural community in northeast Iowa. National speaker and author Lisa Whittle challenged and encouraged us, sharing three messages that day. The second message she shared was titled, “Holes Bring Hope”. Lisa said, “While holes keep us from some things, they also provide us a way to God, an opportunity to move toward God…If we’re desperate enough, our lives will change.”Lisa Whittle also said, “Holes limit and define us.” She talked about the holes of empty religion, roles and experiences. While I have let roles and experiences limit and define me, it was the holes of religion that stood out to me as Lisa spoke. Because, you see, I once had some major religious holes.
I grew up going to church, went to Christian school from kindergarten to graduation day and knew all the “right” scriptures and religious answers. It was a bit confusing because as a teenager I went to one denomination’s school, another denomination’s church and was taught yet another religion at home. They were all very different, but they had one thing in common…they taught me (whether trying or not) to focus on my “performance” (as Lisa Whittle put it).In my early twenties I became so discouraged. I had tried and strived and felt I had failed. There were so many rules to follow. I ran toward religious perfection and fell flat on my face. I saw it happen to many of those around me too. I believed I could never measure up, that I would never be good enough. So why try? Of course, those were lies straight from the pit of hell. But, that was the hole these religions had left in me. My focus was on performance ( what I could do), rather than His grace (what He had already done).
I turned my back on religion, and God. I paid the price. I came to a place of utter misery. One day I literally fell on my face before God. It was right there in my bedroom, face down in the carpet, I cried out to Him. Because He is gracious He heard me and answered. I surrendered my life to Him that day, not to a religion, but to a relationship with the one true God, through His Son Jesus.
“You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.” Psalm 86:5
The more I get to know my gracious LORD, the more I understand His love. The more I understand His love and grace, the more I love Him. Religion most definitely can limit and define you. But relationship, oh sweet relationship with Him, it sets you free…and fills holes.As Lisa said, “…holes can also provide us a way to God, an opportunity to move toward God.” I’m so thankful I didn’t stay stuck in empty religion, that in my desperation I turned to a relationship with the one true God. He changed everything!
Today I am a member of and serve in my local church. I am a women’s ministry leader. But I know I am not defined by my religion or my roles or my performance. Although I long to obey Him and see improvement year after year, it’s not about following a list of rules. I know I’m not defined by what I do. I’m defined by who I am…His! And with Him as my constant companion, I am not limited. Nothing is impossible with Him!Have you ever felt trapped in empty religion, either now or in the past? There’s a big difference between knowing about God and actually knowing God. Do you wish for a more fulfilling, thriving relationship with the one true God? What’s holding you back? Move forward today! I beg you, friend. Jesus did not give His life, so that you can live in bondage to man-made laws and hollow religious practices. Too many people never move past religion. Don’t be one of those people. He wants a vibrant relationship with YOU! He’s waiting…
Trade in empty religion for authentic relationship, you will find the one who fills your God shaped holes!
Have questions or need prayer? E-mail me: email@example.com
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
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