My spiritual and physical life has changed in so many ways that I can't even begin to count my blessings. I mean, I try to but it's soooo much! I still deal with old fears but it's lessening as the months go by. Whenever I talk to old friends that think like I used to, the fears come back. It's such a heaviness that my heart almost can't carry the weight. I finally understand the scripture...
"Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."
I know to many people they've heard this a thousand times. To me it's life changing, powerful, and freeing! Jesus wasn't just throwing out a nice phrase. It's literal! Stop focusing on trying to fight your flesh with works. Focus on drawing nearer to Him and see what happens. I love this scripture. :)
I used to hear "my yoke is easy" and think it wasn't easy at all. I had so many things I had to do to make God happy with me! To make it to heaven. Gosh, it was so hard and with my large family I just couldn't do enough things to make God happy. I began to mentally break down and have serious bouts of depression. I don't mean feeling sad here and there. DEPRESSION where getting out of bed was a chore. The burden of my works was so heavy that my spiritual back was breaking.
It's much harder fighting for righteousness when I'm living my life based off of works. Here is a silly but important example. The other day I was watching a show on TV while the kids were sleeping. A part came on that I didn't really feel was good for me to see. Without even thinking I just got up and got something to eat in the kitchen to let whatever it was pass by. I mean, I didn't even have to think about it. To avoid it, I automatically just got up and walked out the room. While in the kitchen it dawned on me how much something inside of me is beginning to change. Before, I would have felt much more temptation to see what it was and maybe even fought myself for a bit to watch it. I was so confident in my works based mentality that I trusted in my own strength to fight against temptations. I was sure that if I made a mistake I was going to go to hell. Therefore, when I made a mistake, I felt so condemned I just wanted to give up. Since I have began to focus on just drawing closer to Jesus, that it's by grace we are saved (not just saving grace but sustaining grace) temptations haven't been able to hit me nearly as strong. Of course I'm human and humans face temptation but it's almost like the blows are softened. I always thought that if I had believed in "greasy grace" then I would just fall into every sin possible. When you truly accept Jesus as your savior, not just for fire insurance (although that'd be my very first reason) but because you have a longing to draw closer to Him and know Him, you'll find that Jesus really didn't intend for serving Him to be heavy and burdensome!
In fact, before I felt guilty if I missed a church service. In a way, church became my idol. I went to church not to make Jesus happy, but to please others around me. I was going so many times a week because I felt if I didn't, God would be displeased with me or people around me. I didn't go because I was excited to hear from God. I went to please man. I even felt pride in the fact I went so many times a week. That made me holy, right? At times I snubbed my nose at people because they weren't as faithful as me to all the weekly services. Yet, I felt horrible guilt if a kid was sick and I couldn't go, I felt an urge to call people around me or post on facebook why I wasn't there. I really, really think "church" can be an idol. Since I have removed myself from that mindset I have had such a renewing and longing to not only learn about God at church but to study at home. Yes, I did it at home before but this time was different. Sometimes I can't wait to sit down study scripture, watch a sermon or listen to one. Church now isn't the only place to receive but GLADLY in my own personal time. Now, instead of praying once in the morning and "getting it over with", I find my self praying throughout the day as I see the needs or just want to praise Him! Once you LOSE THE RULES, you find that relationship you've been longing for all along.
My prayer is that friends or people out there struggling with legalism or a works based mentality might be free from those chains. I only share because I'm excited for what God is doing in my life and I so long to see others be free! :)