How I Ended Up Happy
This is the story of how a miserable, intense, anxious born-again Christian ended up self-accepting, happy and content. It is the text of an email to a friend with the typos fixed up.
I don't know if this will be much help, but we have known each other a long while and I may have told you this story before...
In 1984 I had this argument with God about my sanctification. Not being very patient it started off with me saying 'Lord this is dreadfully slow, please give me a magic wand so I can change myself and get rid of all the stuff that is bothering me'. He just said, very graciously "Where would you start?" and I said with issue A then..no, no, I'd have to change B before I changed A,no,no..C" and I quickly realized that I was not up to snuff, that I did not even know where to start. Then God said "Just leave it to the Holy Spirit' and I did, and I have been at peace and happy about myself and my sanctification ever since. About seven realizations have helped me in this, I list them below along with the dates I woke up to them, its been a long slow journey.
1. I'm too dumb to manage it - so I'll leave it with God. (September 1984)
2. The people who claim they know how to manage it cannot ever give a straight and sensible answer ( I realized this after asking the very head of the Keswick movement - Major Ian Thomas, face to face, "OK we get perfect by "having faith" but how do we 'have faith" like that." He could not answer me - he just kept repeating "you just have faith". Now if the chief exponent of perfection and sanctification has not got a practical sensible answer... guess what I concluded? (about 1983)
3. The people who loudly claim to be holy were not a quantitative big leap better than little old me. Basically their formulas were humbug. (Early 1990's) Part B to this was realizing that some of this humbug was really dangerous. A friend gave me a book on prayer where the author claimed you had to confess all unconfessed sin or God would not hear your prayers. As a new Christian I spent 6 months in torment confessing every known sin of the past 22 years. Then I realized that the Lord's prayer has all the main requests BEFORE it asks for forgiveness of sins! What about "they kingdom come" is that not heard because you have not got to "forgive us our sins" yet? This simple observation brought home the real meaning of the cross and the fact that my sins were forgiven ONCE FOR ALL TIME and that God was hearing my prayers because I believed, and was in Christ not because I had gone through a ritual of confession. It also taught me to beware of spiritual humbug - because it can hurt. (confessing is a good idea - but its not as supercritical as that book made out.)
4. Those people who I genuinely think are really, really holy and are miles ahead of me just love Jesus and walk with Him without formulas. They seem relaxed about God and perhaps that is a good idea. (Late 1990's)
5. God pointed my nose at "be anxious for nothing" and said nothing means nothing, including your sin, condemnation ,etc. which He took care of on the cross. The fact that being anxious about sin was not God's plan for me - was a big leap forward for peace. He wants me to master sin, not worry over it. (About 1987)
6. The realization that it was Christ in me that was the dynamic (1986). Read "Living With Jesus Today" by Juan Carlos Ortiz - that was the book that did it.
7. The realization that my real self was ALREADY perfect - that my eternal
self, the bit that is "born of God" is Christ in me etc., cannot sin
nor does it desire to do so. There is an eternal bit of John that will be clothed
with a resurrection body and that bit is pure, sanctified, holy, born of God
and thoroughly OK. (about 1996-7)
This is a big topic so rather than thrash it out here if you are interested go to: http://www.aibi.ph/articles/innermn1.htm
So, with the help of the above, plus a bit of Theophostics and time and grace I feel OK about me. That could be the delusions of old age rather than the earnestness of youth, but I suspect it is also wisdom. Hope my ramblings help in some small way.
(Addition: as Adrian Plass says "God is nice and He likes you".)
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