|The Thief|

For the past several years my sin has crippled me. The shame of the struggle of still falling into sin and some of the same struggles that I had before God brought me to himself made it hard for me to take Him for His word. I preached to others and myself the saving grace for so long, that I had completely disregarded the sustaining grace that I needed for the daily battle against the sin that didn’t magically disappear after the profession of faith. 

One of the biggest blessings in my life is the people God has surrounded me with. My closest friends from college and new friends since then, have seen me walk through my highest highs and my lowest lows. But even what God uses to bless me, Satan finds a way to use it to blind and distract me. I quickly began comparing myself. Saying that I wasn’t as good as this friend in reading the Word, or that another friend didn’t struggle anymore the way I did. I would correlate the blessings in their lives as rewards for how far they’ve come, and the lack of (in my eyes) blessings in my life as punishment for failing too many times. You name it, I compared it. 

The past few weeks, these words by Theodore Roosevelt have never rang so true.

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It became so clear to me that I was viewing God’s grace, love, & forgiveness like a credit score. If I kept messing up, eventually one day He would say I’ve reached my limit and no more grace could be given. Now trust me, I knew all of these things didn’t work this way. I KNEW none of this was true, but sin blinds and tells you lies.

Although I was very aware of the lies behind works-based faith, I was mistakingly blinded to the works-based growth lies I told myself. Somehow I knew my justification was without works but I saw my sanctification as completely dependent on my performance. It was like my justification was Him, sanctification- me, glorification- Him. 

It didn’t matter what my head knew if my heart wasn’t resting in it.  

The beginning of this year I asked a few people if they could get me to read one book right now what would it be. One of my favorite women in Charleston, recommended “Extravagant Grace” by Barbara Duguid. I knew if she was taking the time to read this book and lead others through it, it was a no brainer for me. I immediately got the book and dove right in.

There are so many things I can say about this book. But the words that have wrecked me are far more powerful than any words I can say about it. Below are some of those things.

Those areas of her life where she sought to battle sin most energetically were precisely the areas where she seemed to be making least progress.

Whether we stand or fall, run the race or have only enough faith to keep looking in the right direction, He is faithful to us.

God is actually as much at work in our worst moments of sin and defeat as He is in our best moments of shining obedience.

Truth was starting to replace self-deception, and conviction was beginning to feel sweet instead of simply bitter and humilitating.

Many Christians wrestle with the agony of sinful failure in isolation and desperation.

Many believers are willing and eager to talk about what big sinners they were before they were saved, but few invite you into their hearts to see what huge sinners they still are now. 

He does not ordain the beginning and the end of your story only to leave the middle part – your life as a believer here on Earth- up to you!

Nothing you can do can speed up or slow down the work of the Spirit in you. (BOOM…smack in my face)

… and that was just in the first three chapters 🙂

Yall, this book is speaking right to my core and every struggle that has come with this battle.The book is based on John Newton’s writings and I just love how God works. The week after I started reading this, my pastor gave a sermon that was speaking directly to what the book had already been addressing. If you watch one sermon your whole life, I might recommend for it to be this one.

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God perfectly orchestrated me reading this book and hearing this message at the perfect time in my walk with Him. If you set goals for the year, I would plead for you to add 2 more- read “Extravagant Grace” and watch the sermon! If you are like me, feeling like your feet are stuck in concrete and you can’t find rest in His love, I’m praying this messes you up and you get unstuck. 

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