Charlotte is a third year MCDB major who enjoys knitting, drinking coffee, and taking walks on her free time 😀
I’m so thankful to have parents who dedicated me to God in front of their church before I could even remember. They sent me to Christian school where I learned a lot of verses and sang worship songs, and prayed with my teachers. It must have been part of the curriculum because every year teachers would meet with me personally and ask me if I wanted Jesus in my life, and I would pray and accept Jesus once again because I was just never sure if I truly accepted Jesus the year before.
Growing up, it may be cliche to say, but God was a vending machine to me. I would give a dime or two only when I needed something. And weirdly, or maybe by God’s grace, it always seemed to work for me. In fact, things worked out so well for me that I distinctly remember telling my camp counselor one year at youth camp, that I didn’t feel like I needed God because my life was just too good. Pridefully, I really felt like I had everything I needed and wanted with friends, family, and school. There was little actual room for God in my heart. But still, I called myself a Christian and tried to be one, thinking that God would continue to give me the things that I wanted. And partly because I wanted to please the people around me.
Eventually, telling people that I was Christian and going to church started to feel like a lie. I felt so fake when I was praying and I couldn’t sing in church because when I sang, I felt like a liar. And honestly, it started to feel very scary because I knew what the consequences were. I knew in my mind very clearly that the wages of sin were death (Rom 6:23), and I knew very well all the verses about how someone who might say they’re Christian might approach Christ in the end and Christ will say “I never knew you” (Matt 7:21-23). And that scared me because deep inside, I knew that was me.
I had this internal struggle for a long time, and I began to feel so bitter towards God because I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel like a Christian even though I thought I knew John 3:16 well enough in my mind. Then one day, my friend was sharing with me about how she’s been going through the gospel of John. There were the Pharisees who rejected Christ and sought to kill him, and then there was the woman at the well who believed and shared the good news with the whole town (John 4). What separated them was that the Pharisees thought themselves too good for the need of a savior, whereas the woman saw her own sin and knew she needed the all-satisfying living water, eternal life and freedom from sin, that only Christ can give her. The gospel is only valuable to those who realize they need it.
I thought about what she said for a long time. I realized that God himself was never important to me because, like a Pharisee, I never really saw myself as a sinner. I had focused so much on all the ways that God is a giver, a giver of eternal life, a giver of good and perfect gifts, that I forget that God also takes away, he takes away sin by giving his Son to die on the cross on our behalf. I prayed for God to show me how much of a sinner I am and how much I needed to let him take my sins away.
God showed me that my heart had gotten used to rejecting him and giving into sin, so used to it that I wasn’t even aware of my own sin anymore. And my greatest sin wasn’t lack of love for others, pride, envy, discontentment, anxiety, disobedience, idolatry, though I regularly did all of those too, but it was that I had turned my back on God, rejected him with bitterness, and continued in the sin that put his son on the cross.
Looking back, I was certainly the person who desired too little, and was satisfied with the things of this world, being ignorant to what I truly needed. I asked God to fulfill my greatest need, to forgive my sins and reconcile me with himself, and to be my truest joy and he has already answered me through Christ’s death and resurrection.
Funny enough, since then, God has given me many more circumstances in my life where I felt like I needed him all the more. But through all these trials, I know fully that God is good because he grows my faith and draws me closer to him, making me more like his son. Even in this broken world, where death, pain, and sinfulness are at every corner, God does all for the good of those who love him. The truth that I had taken for granted, now makes me praise and worship God even more so as I am humbled and brought low. And God faithfully continues to teach me daily that I need him just as much when I’m in green pastures as when I’m in the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23).