My small group and I are reading this awesome (and hilarious) book entitled: Love Does by Bob Goff. It’s full of stories from the author’s life, and he skillfully connects them to God and scripture. Each week, I feel inspired, validated, and encouraged when I finish reading, but last week when I finished, I felt a bit more.
In one chapter, Bob discusses his selective hearing as it related to his wife and as it relates to God. We decided to discuss selective hearing as well. It’s a great topic for believers. I mean, many of us hear what we want to hear from God. We want to hear about the blessings. The growth. The progress. But what about when God is telling us to work or move or help… or give?
Furthermore, how do we even know when God is speaking to us?
How does His voice sound? I always imagine it to sound like it did in The Ten Commandments, omniscient and commanding. But who really knows? I want to say God has spoken to me, but I couldn’t express how I knew. My friend, says that when thoughts come to her that she knows she wouldn’t have come up with on her own, that’s God.
With that in mind, I spent the commute home from small group in prayer. I just felt like that’s what I needed to do. I went through an array of topics from comparison to fear of success to love and finally ended up contemplating forgiveness. See, I’m a conversational prayer. I talk to God about everything and anything. We can’t hide from Him, right?
Well, when we got to the topic of forgiveness, I acknowledged that I can’t seem to get past some of the mistakes in my past. While I’ve forgiven others, I have had the most difficult time forgiving myself for being human and making mistakes. We all do, but many times, I feel like I’m too smart to make stupid decisions. In all actuality, many of those mistakes have led to great successes and understanding, but something in me refuses to let go of the fact that I wasn’t smart enough to stop myself from making the mistakes in the first place.
Here’s the thing though… I asked God what I needed to do. I knew He’d already forgiven me, but how in the world would I begin to forgive myself? I begged for clarity. How do I get rid of the guilt and shame? Lord, how do I start over?
That was one thought that I would have NEVER come up with on my own. (Mind blown!) I was baptized at the age of ten by my dad. My baby brother and I made the decision to give our lives to God together. That way neither one of us would be alone. I’d managed to avoid baptism again after joining a new church because I’d been there and done that. This time, there’s no escaping the public admission that I am giving myself back to Christ and taking that dip… again. I’m coming clean.
See, the grace that is bestowed upon us doesn’t have an expiration date. It isn’t for one use only. It’s continually given. God knows that there will be times that we may stray from the path. There may be times when we don’t make the “right” decisions, but He still welcomes us back with open arms. We’re still His, and we’re still loved. And those times when we feel too dirty to deserve His love, He washes those feelings away. We’re clean and made new in Him.
So, yeah, I’ve been baptized before, but I’m going to do it again. (And again, if I need to.) I’m ready to go into the next chapter knowing that God wants us to work toward being our best, not perfect. I’ve made mistakes, but I should use them as steps to better myself and others. I will not dwell in the mistakes of my past.
And neither should you.