Testimony Thursday: “It’s Personal”

Raised a ‘good Catholic girl,’ I can say I’ve always known life in church. Back in the day of Latin masses and sanctuaries filled with the aroma of burning incense, lace veils that draped your shoulders, prayer books that were dutifully read and Novena Wednesdays that were spent in the local neighborhood church filled with all your school friends … you knew all the moments to pause, sit, kneel and greet those around you. Saturday mornings were dedicated to attending Catechism all throughout elementary school where you really learned what you believed and went through the various levels of sacraments to be a more ‘good Catholic girl.’

And to be perfectly honest, I must say that I owe my deep and constant pursuit of Christ to my humble beginnings in the Catholic church.

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I may not be Catholic today, nor do I foresee any remote possibility of returning. However, some things were engraved within me from those earlier days: revere GOD the Father, GOD the Son (Jesus Christ) and GOD the Holy Spirit.

As I see it, that was a time when I felt that GOD and I began this ongoing conversation. Mama always taught me that prayer was something that could and should be done at will and any time was suitable for GOD to hear them. Mama was a big proponent of using your voice and standing up for what you believed in.

So I did. And I left the Roman Catholic Church for good.

After realizing that Jesus actually came to earth to die for me, not just collectively for everyone, but specifically for me — that critical moment in time caused me to come to a grinding halt. Because now it meant that His sacrifice was personal.

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Which also meant that I was now totally transparent. If Jesus is GOD, then He saw all (and all means all) the ugly and embarrassing things I had done throughout my life. And yet, He still chose to go to the Cross for me. Leaves me jaw-dropped every time.

And again, if Jesus is GOD, and He knows everything, even before I did these awful things (including those things in the dark I thought no one else was aware of) and He still chose to give His life for mine, how could I possibly respond?

By saying, “yes.” Because it is quite personal.

When you’re taught and accustomed to doing things because that’s what earns merits to get you closer to heaven, you keep doing those things. Who doesn’t want to go to heaven, right? At some point, you may ask yourself, “What if I’m not doing everything as perfectly as I should? Does this result in demerits? Like in a board game, do I move three steps back or return to start?”

The more I learned about the character of GOD, the more He blew my mind with His demonstrated grace and mercy that just seemed to be unending and without condition. Limitless love of GOD. How is this possible?

He is GOD. The title and name alone speak for itself.

In the beginning God created [by forming from nothing] the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 Amplified

Only the Person Who is able to deal with all the global issues and listen to all the desperate prayers of people crying out to Him could be worthy of such a title. Otherwise, He is just another god — small ‘g.’ And quite honestly, I don’t want to waste my time believing in something or someone that I can melt down, recycle or reshape and reconfigure. Do you?

You and I … we have issues and then we have BIG issues. This requires a BIG GOD.

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In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also. Psalm 95:4 ESV


The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
    The world and all its people belong to him.
For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas
    and built it on the ocean depths. Psalm 24:1-2 NLT

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the skies announce what his hands have made. Psalm 19:1 NCV

I want Someone who I can depend on and have access to 24/7 — no holds barred. And more than anything, I want Someone Who will love me no matter how many times I mess up and won’t regret that He does.

Coming away from a system of hierarchy was scary at first. How am I accountable?

The Bible helps me with that. But of course, having another Believer help me understand what I am reading is a real gift of a friend. At the end of the day, no one judges me. GOD says He dealt with any and all judgement at the Cross through Jesus. Another mic dropping moment.

It all sounded way too good to be true. And yet, it is all totally true.

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

Seriously?! Yes, unequivocally serious to the extreme. Second chance? Fresh start? Reset button on life?

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So, why isn’t everybody jumping on this bandwagon and signing up?

16 A man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have life forever?”

17 Jesus answered, “Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. But if you want to have life forever, obey the commands.”

18 The man asked, “Which commands?”

Jesus answered, “‘You must not murder anyone; you must not be guilty of adultery; you must not steal; you must not tell lies about your neighbor; 19 honor your father and mother; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”

20 The young man said, “I have obeyed all these things. What else do I need to do?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, then go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. If you do this, you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”

22 But when the young man heard this, he left sorrowfully, because he was rich. Matthew 19:16-22 NCV

Unfortunately for some, the draw towards the way life appears — the so-called tangible comforts and pleasures of the here and now — are just too much to let go. They erroneously think that there’s nothing that can top their current status. And they are gravely mistaken.

When you live for another human being’s approval, the minute you are no longer the frontrunner or favored one, you’ve lost your place on the roster and you’ve been replaced.

Jesus loves you more than you can imagine and never less than He does right now.

He’s just that much in love with you and desires that you would have the same desire towards Him. Who else would die in your place? Think on that for a moment. In a world where people don’t even hold the door open for you or allow you to enter the bus ahead of them or give you the best seat in the house … and that’s with them knowing you … Jesus gave His life personally for you.

It’s real personal. You know, like when you want to spill your guts out to your BFF about something that you want to make sure they bury before you exit the room and act as though you never had the conversation. That kind of personal.

A relationship with Jesus is at the very heart of every person that chooses to take Him up on the Gift He has already given. This precious Gift, we call it ‘salvation,’ is His Way of providing the Way to the Father (which honestly, that’s what all religious prescriptions are seeking) because He is the Way.

Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6 Amplified

To be honest here, I was wholly relieved to know that this new way of living and worshipping GOD didn’t enslave me to a new system of to-do’s. And I get to actually learn about His Character and examine the truth for myself — without asking permission or having someone read it to me.

I get to use my own voice. And I get to experience Jesus in real time.

GOD was no longer this faraway mystical and mysterious entity that was looking down with scrutiny and disdain on humanity. When learning that GOD calls me His Daughter — Girlfriend, that rocked the boat so hard that I wept. Remember all the ugliness of the past, He has forgiven all of that and chooses to not remember any of it.

12 He has removed our sins as far from us
    as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12 NLT

It’s hard to comprehend, but yes, GOD in His Mercy calls you His Own. Talk about getting in good where it counts. This counts! This matters! Everything else is, well, fluff.

When you have a personal relationship with another person, you communicate on a regular basis. And certainly there is no being in relationship from the sidelines or from a distance. Viability of the relationship means you’re an active participant. Think about this: would you want any of your besties to just wave at you from across the street rather than meet up with you for lunch? Or what if they called themselves your buddy but never so much as called you on the phone or asked how you’re doing but maybe once or twice in a year? In this case, it’s through prayer. Nonetheless, there’s dialogue and exchange and listening on both sides.

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Visualize this for a moment: Jesus invites you a quiet one-on-one to share whatever is on your heart and mind because He wants to listen to your voice. He has no time limit, no next appointment waiting for Him, no other place to rush off to. That’s the Savior.

He knew you at your worst, yet sees you at your best and loves you like you’ve always been ‘in’ with Him. Because He’s a personal GOD.

LINDA R. JOHNSON

He’s available right this moment, Sweet Friend. You can have direct access without any passwords or one-time-codes to memorize. No climbing up a mountain top or starving in the desert. You can keep your favorite jeans and t-shirt, too.

The invitation to make it personal is now.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary

4 Comments

    1. Sharon: Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be words ‘good enough’ to express gratitude for such abundant grace. Maybe by the time we get to say it in-person to the Person we seek to embrace, we’ll be able to shout it out and dance it up.

      Like

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