by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery
Though I trusted in Christ for salvation as a child, you never would’ve believed this, had you encountered me in my young adult years.
It was like I’d grabbed hold of the fringes of eternal life but not the full expression of it.
I had a tainted, partial view of God. I saw Him as lofty, for sure. The One who not only set the rules but had every right to do so. I also knew I didn’t deserve the gift of grace He’d given me. In fact, I felt so undeserving, I was certain that was how He viewed me as well. As if He tolerated me on occasion but was mostly just disappointed.
He certainly had cause to be. I wasn’t living anything like my Bible said I should. I went to church on Sunday and Bible study on Tuesday, then got drunk with my friends on Friday. I took my daughter to play dates and acted the responsible and emotionally stable adult. Then, while my husband and daughter slept, I spent the quiet night hours binging and purging in a desperate attempt to fill all my empty places inside.
I was trying to live the Christian life in my own strength, apart from Jesus, and I was failing miserably. Each night, I’d promise God the next day I’d do better, only to find myself falling into the same self-destructive behaviors.
Then one day, I stumbled upon Jesus’ response to temptation. You may be familiar with the story. Scripture tells us the Spirit led Him into the wilderness where He was bombarded, again and again, by the forces of darkness. Yet, He remained strong. Unshakable. Victorious. As I read Matthew 4:1-11 and all the ways Christ engaged in a more intense spiritual battle you and I ever will, it was as if He were holding His hand out to me, saying, “Come on. Watch what I do. Follow Me.”
So I began to do just that. I started to look at my faith differently; less about what I needed to do or not do and more about what God wanted me to learn. My first and most important lesson: discovering who He was. Gaining full knowledge of His love and glory, because only then could I truly live in Him.
In John 14, shortly before His death, Jesus spoke to His disciples. He left them final instructions regarding a rather overwhelming assignment—launching His church during a time of intense persecution. This by a group of men who, in a few short hours would abandon Him. In other words, individuals who, like me, were nowhere near strong enough or wise enough for the task.
But Jesus said to them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me” (John 14:1 NIV). In fact, He used the word believe six times in the span of fourteen verses. A paraphrase of the whole passage might read: “Believe not in yourself, your might, or plans, but in Me.”
As I fought against old behavior patters, it was as if Jesus was saying the same to me. “I have so much more for you, Jennifer. I’ll show you precisely what that is, in due time. But today, believe in Me. Lean on Me, and learn from Me (Matthew 11:28). We’ll take this journey together.”
That was just under twenty years ago, and I’m grateful to say, Christ conquered each one of those enslaving habits and more, as He’s molded me, slowly but steadily, into His image. This transformation hasn’t been quick or easy, but it’s been freeing and sure.
He’ll do the same for you.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV
Fighting Enslaving Behaviors – insight on #FollowingGod from @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a multi-published writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s also a Crosswalk featured blogger and maintains a devotional blog found at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events that help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. (They just released their first Bible study, Becoming His Princess, which you can grab for free HERE.) When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Jennifer’s latest book is Restoring Her Faith. She left belief behind…but could this family change her mind?
With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds that his hands aren’t just full, they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?
Join the conversation: Have you been set free from an enslaving behavior? Please share!