I've considered deleting this blog many times but can't seem to let it go for some reason. Perhaps because it contains such an important part of my life and I'm hoping that somehow my 'scribblings' can inspire and help others going through some of the things I've been through. So, I continue to hold onto it for a little longer.
Tonight, 31st December 2021, I reflect on not only the year that has passed but the many years before that too. I love to look back and reflect before plotting the way forwards into a new year. So I've pulled out all my journals and as I flip through the pages I am in awe of how far I have come.
Only today I found myself chatting with Jordan about the importance of not comparing ourselves with others but without past self, and as I look back I am amazed and how far I have come. I can't help but go back to that day. The day that I hit rock bottom. I had been a Christian for 10 years at that point and yet still found myself on the floor with a razor blade in my hand trying to end my life. I had made such a mess of it all and had no hope or reason to live. That was Christmas time 2001, 20 years ago!
Imagine in I had succeeded, these past 20 years would not have happened. It's a sobering thought.
I always say that I was born again in 1991 but saved in 2001. For most Christians, it's the same date but I am a bit stubborn and it took God 10 years to make a point. The difference is that for the first 10 years of my Christian journey I tried so hard to be a good person and to be a good Christian, I desperately wanted to please God and be accepted by all, but I kept messing up. For 10 years I tried my absolute best but proved that I couldn't break free from who I really was. My human nature kept pulling me back into my usual destructive cycle.
Saved by grace
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9
The Bible is clear, we can't be saved from our own works, no matter how hard we try. Salvation is a gift. On that night, as I tried to take my life, I didn't respond to a preacher in church inviting me to be saved, I didn't pray a special prayer to be saved, I didn't go through a religious ceremony to be saved, I cried out to God and asked for help. I told him how I couldn't do it anymore, I didn't know how to live. I didn't really want to die but could see no other option. It's a long story and I don't want to retell it yet again, you can read about it in my book Hope's Journey. The point is that I was saved. Truly saved. After 10 years of trying things my way I finally tried God's way and all it took was a humbled cry for help to kickstart the process.
A new creation
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am a business speaker, I love to talk to groups big and small and inspire them in business and personal growth. Something I often say is that there is no such thing as a get rich quick scheme, an overnight success takes about 20 years!
The same is true of becoming a new creation. Being saved and allowing God to work in my life didn't mean that He waved a magic wand and I became a new creation! It meant 20 years of obediently listening to his guidance and responding to His loving discipline. It's taken me 20 years to go from a worm wallowing in my sin to the beautiful butterfly I have grown into. I can say this because I know it's not pride, I can say this because there is no way I could have done this myself, the first 10 years of my Christian walk have proven that. I am God's handiwork.
On purpose for a purpose
"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." - Ephesians 2:10
As I page through my journals and reflect on the past 20 years I am filled with gratitude. So much gratitude. I am not who I once was and I will continue to be made new. I now have an amazing life and a future to look forward to. I am not saying this because my life is rosy without any problems. In fact, this year of 2021 has been the worst year of my life. Perhaps one day I will be able to write about it but it's too painful to share at the moment. I am not exaggerating in any way, it truly has been heartwrenchingly horrible and the problems I am suffering will continue into next year. The Bible does say that "in this world you will have trouble" but it also says that "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." and it's this peace that I hold onto knowing that "all things God work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
I am free
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. But we all... are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory" - 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
I wrote a book called Free in 2011, I'm not sure if it's any good I might have to revise it at some point, but I honestly felt back then that I was finally free from so much that had ensnared me in the past. Looking back I am amazed, if I felt free then how can I articulate how I feel now as it's freer than free. I guess that's what the Bible means when it says we are being transformed from one degree of glory to the next and if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.
A future and a hope
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11
And so as I reflect to set myself up for a new year I am reminded of one of my favourite verses when I was first born again in 1991, Jeremiah 29:11. Back then I believed it but after what I have been through for the last 30 years, the ups and downs, the good times and the bad times, I can see that this has always been true. That He has been working in me every single day of my life to bring me to this point and that there has always been a plan. I have been saved by grace on purpose for a purpose and I can't wait to see what the next year holds and how His plan continues to unfold in my life.
No matter what the future brings I am saved by grace, a new creation, on purpose for a purpose. I am free with a future and a hope!
Happy New Year!
I would love to hear your reflections on this past year, on life and anything you would like to share too. Leave me a comment below.
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