I was a straight arrow. Christian home, Christian school. The works! And I was fairly certain that our car started itself and would’ve driven to church without us had we not piled in it like crazy people every Sunday morning.
Fast forward to last Wednesday night’s home group. The question was posed: “When did you first realize that you were totally in love with Jesus?” That was easy for me. I remember the day He claimed my seven-year old heart. I’ve been crazy about Him ever since. Even now, the thought of Him makes me want to sing. It’s just what I do.
My issue has never primarily been about whether or not I loved Him. But I have realized that deep in my heart I struggle with believing that HE really loves ME. I mean, seriously, why would He? I might have some “nice church-girl” curb appeal, but deep down I am painfully aware of my wicked heart. (Jeremiah 17:9*)
I grew up being taught at church that God had one plan for you, and if you deviated AT ALL God would say, “Good night, Alison, good work; I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”(C’mon, people. Princess Bride!). Failure = Doomsday. For me, Christianity was this wobbly tight rope that you didn’t dare step a toe off of or you could kiss “God’s Best” for your life goodbye.
It wasn’t until college that all my perfectionistic dreams of being a super-Christian came crashing down. Here’s the part where you expect me to say that I sowed some wild oats, or started building a stage-worthy testimony. I didn’t. But what I did do was just as sinful. I began to despair and fall into a black place in my heart. I couldn’t keep up. My sins and failures sneered at me every waking moment, and the more I begged for forgiveness, the deeper in the quagmire of guilt I sank. I was a Christian. Why couldn’t I live in victory?
One night in my dorm room I was struggling. I mean, doing the ugly-cry and everything. I felt like I loved a God that didn’t love me back. I was trying, but I was too sinful for Him to accept me. Then I heard it. The voice was gentle, but the words were strong. “Daughter, you are so ungrateful. When you refuse to accept my forgiveness, wallowing in guilt and despair, you are saying that my death on the cross was not good enough for you. Would you have me climb up to Calvary again? I will not do it. It is finished.”
I was stunned…. broken…. changed.
*Note from Shelley Hendrix: Ezekiel 36:26
Alison Everill is a pastor’s wife and the joyful mom of 3 boys. She is also a worship leader, songwriter, vocalist, and speaker who loves to serve the body of Christ by ministering in churches and at ladies events. Her heart’s desire is to encourage women to embrace lives of worship.
Connect with Alison at: www.alisoneverill.com
And meet her at this year's AWAKEN 1-Day Conference on November 8 when she leads our times of worship!
www.Church4Chicks.com has all the info, so make sure to get your tickets TODAY!!