Justified

The last few months of my life have been an adjustment to say the least. I moved to a different state. I started a new job. Everything I had left behind and was coming back to was different. At one point it seemed that I was “finding myself” as they say. I was trying new things, meeting new people. I was gaining all this life experience that I had no interest in during medical school. But in all this “finding myself” all I found was that I lost my identity. I lost who I was, and I had no idea how to get back.
Over the last few months I have had wonderful, beautiful experiences, but I also got caught up in the whirlwind until I no longer had a leg to stand on. I compromised some of my standards. I made choices that I’m less than proud of. For the first time in my life I felt like I wasn’t just not right with God, but I was all wrong. I felt like I couldn’t even show Him my face. I knew that I had let Him down, but this time was worse than all the others. For the first time I couldn’t even talk with Him as I went about my day. I felt guilty asking Him for favors or sending up a little prayer. I avoided church on my one Sunday off because all I could think was that I didn’t deserve to be there.

All of these notions were wrong.

And He made sure to show me that.

You know how God protects you when you’re in tune with Him? You know that extra guarding you get when you run under His wing? Well, somehow I still felt that protection, even after running away from Him and betraying Him and disappointing Him. He was trying to make it clear that even though I ended up down this weird path that wasn’t consistent with who I am or who He intends for me to be, He wasn’t just going to give up and let me go. He made it abundantly clear that my mistakes don’t discount His love for me, and they don’t erase the fact that I am His daughter.

So finally I started to get the message, and I made my way to church, where I do belong, because I am a sinner. And that’s where He sealed the deal with the message from Acts that day: 

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. (13:38-39)

He has justified me through His love and through His blood. Nothing I try to do on my own can do that. No law gives me that. Only the blood and the love of the Savior can justify me, can purify me, can give me redemption, can make me new once more.

I walked into church that day beaten down, broken, ashamed. I walked out ready to be renewed. And with that I ended up in Abouna’s office pouring out my heart, pouring out my shame and my mistakes. And I walked out redeemed. The thoughts of my shortcomings, the images of my sin, the voice in my head telling me I am worthless and terrible were finally gone. All that was left was the knowledge that I truly had been made pure again.


So here I am, once again, in a coffee shop, trying to put into words my experiences with the hope that maybe one person will read my thoughts and realize that you are royalty. Your Father won’t just leave you when you’re down for the count. He didn’t for me, and I guarantee He won’t for you.

Just remember, no matter what you do He could not love you any more or any less.

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I Am Confident I Am His

A journal entry while in St. Bishoy Monastery, Egypt

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. -1 John 2:28

There was a monk who once said, “Be a friend of God on earth, and you will be a friend of God in heaven.” You can see that here. Everything is about Him. Every word speaks of Him. Every knee bows down to Him. Literally. It was a really beautiful thing to witness in liturgy today. After the reading of the Gospel, EVERY person in the church did a metanoia (prostration), asking for forgiveness of his sins. Every single knee hit the ground, acknowledging our weakness and the greatness of God, acknowledging the we are nothing next to the pure glory of God.

But none of this acknowledgment is in a negative way, an utterly shameful way. We are, of course, ashamed of our sins, but because we know God, because we abide in His body, partake of His blood, we no longer HAVE to be ashamed. We bow down, we ask for God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of others, yet we no longer bear shame because we are clothed by the love and blood of Christ since we abide in Him.

He came and suffered so that I would not have to be ashamed any longer. He purposed all so that I may belong to Him, abide in Him, live for Him and through Him. How, then, can I bear shame when I bear Christ within me?

This is His purpose. This is His aim. He wants me to come to Him as a confident child to her father, not with shame as a dishonored servant.

St. John says in his first epistle: Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (3:1).  He is the first One to call us His children. He taught us to speak to Him as our Father. It is not I who who come to Him requesting such an honor, but He who says, “You are my daughter”.

I am His daughter, and for some crazy reason, He decides to love me, and to make me confident in Him. He wants that relationship from now, so that when eternity comes along, I’ll greet Him as an old friend.

It’s time to live life in Him.