Many people remember the exact day they gave their life to Christ. Unfortunately, I don’t. I remember the general season / time of year and the actual year it happened. But I think for me it was more of a process of letting go of the reigns I held on to so forcefully. One by one, I had to pry each rope out of my little finger’s ninja grip and give the reigns over to God. Because of what I had been through in life, trust was a big issue for me, and so surrender was gradual. But God was patient, tender and loving with that process. And while I don’t know when I officially “crossed that line”, what I do remember is that as I did, with each rope released, I became a noticeably different person. Friends, I was changed. Noticeably changed.
In fact, one of the earliest memories I have after giving my life to Christ was awakening to this sense of newness on the inside of me. Oh, I still had a process to walk through to heal from my past and to learn how to live life according to God’s ways. But when I finally surrendered to Christ and asked Him to be the Lord of my life, I will never forget how dramatically things changed on the inside of me.
God came in to my heart and took up residence there and His presence changed me.
I feel so strongly to point that out because regardless of what coming into a relationship with God looks like for each of us, and how it happens, and where it happens, there is always a consistent result from encountering the Living God: CHANGE. We simply can’t cross from spiritual death unto life and not experience change. We can’t have the presence of God come in and abide on the inside of us and not be different. In fact, one of the ways we know we’ve come into relationship with God is that we’re simply not the same. And yes, I will be so bold as to say that if something hasn’t changed…we’re not there yet. Not every experience has to be the same, look the same, feel the same. But when we’ve truly stepped into a relationship with God, you will know-that you know-that you know….something is different.
Change comes in many different areas. Probably one of the biggest noticeable differences that made me aware I had changed was my conscience. The slate of my conscience was cleaned. I was given a new heart. Not only did I no longer carry the sting of pain for the things that had been done to me, I also no longer carried the guilt for the things I had done. I had been forgiven. The weight and dirt and “piling-up-of-life” that buried and covered my heart for so many years had been removed. Cleaned off. And as a result, this joy. This joy I had never truly experienced in my life flooded my entire being with light.
I instinctively began to know how to live and respond…not just right, but righteously. I could also no longer do or respond the way I used to without feeling a prick on the inside of me. It was like stepping on one of those little Texas grass spurs I had stepped on so many times with bare feet, but on the inside, in my heart, and it made me aware I was going in the wrong direction. Depending on how I listened to and responded to or ignored that little poke, I began to notice that it was like the dimmer switch that adjusted the level of light and joy I continued to experience. It didn’t mean God loved me less. But it showed me that I had a very direct impact on what my experience was like. This was relationship and true relationship is always two-way.
I messed up several times. I still do. But the gift, the beautiful gift of grace is that if I’ll stop and acknowledge and repent, the dimmer switch always goes back to high as the light and joy floods back in.
Why am I sharing this today? Because I feel it’s important to point out that even though we are forgiven and even though the price has been paid for our sins, how we deal with our conscience determines how much strength and how much joy we walk in. It’s like a dimmer switch on our hearts.
So…..if we’re not experiencing the light of His presence, the joy, the peace, the fruit of our salvation…we must ask ourselves, why? Could it be that we’ve ignored our conscience for too long? Could it be that we’re walking in a bit of presumption and letting our hearts get clouded?
I’m just going to share some questions I’ve been allowing myself to ponder lately. Not in a depressive state, but in a healthy self-examination way. My conscience is important to me. Because I know it’s one of my primary sources of strength. And so there are times I purposefully just get before God and allow Him to do a Holy Spirit x-ray on me. And knowing that we’re supposed to be going from glory to glory, if there are times I can think back on what I experienced at the first, and if I long for any of that or get any indication that it was better than what I’m experiencing now? (Like more light, more joy, more tenderness and responsiveness) I know there’s a reason and some area probably needs attention.
So here’s some of what I’ve been tossing around: If you could picture your heart, how tender, how soft, how responsive would you say it is? When was the last time you felt that you grieved the Holy Spirit? What did you do about it? Are the ways of the Lord (which are written on the tablets of your heart) can they be clearly seen as you run the race of life? Or are they dusty, dull, and in need of some purifying? How clearly are you able to hear Him? How hungry are you for the things of God? How back-and-forth are you in your thinking? (such as moving forward in confidence vs indecisiveness) How much joy would you say you are experiencing? How much spiritual fruit is evident in your life? (not just valued, but evident)
The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.
(Psalm 19:7-8 NLT)
Ignoring or treating our conscience lightly results in hardness of heart. But a healthy conscience produces a child-like faith and joy. It keeps our eyes clear so that we see things with a pure heart. Guard it. Care for it. Listen to it. Respond to it. Ask questions.
For here is the covenant I will one day establish with the people of Israel:
I will embed my laws within their thoughts
and fasten them onto their hearts.
I will be their loyal God and they will be my loyal people.
And the result of this will be
that everyone will know me as Lord!
There will be no need at all to teach their fellow-citizens or brothers by saying,
‘You should know the Lord Jehovah,’
since everyone will know me inwardly,
from the most unlikely to the most distinguished. Hebrews 8:10-11 TPT
Thanks for reading,
Linda G. Riddle