I Kissed Formulas Goodbye
It was the late 90's and early 2000's. The church was donned in Christian t-shirts and WWJD bracelets with a few denim jumpers sprinkled in the mix. I wore the Christian garb and taped the True Love Waits pledge card onto my mirror along with thousands of other Christian teenagers. I didn't just survive the purity movement, I was fanning the flames and clutched in my hands was Josh Harris' wildly popular and controversial book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Although the principles in that book are profitable, some being Biblical, I absorbed every word in the book like it was some sort of blueprint to holiness. Being the church-going, type A girl that I am, a checklist to ensure that my life was righteous (and therefore "blessed") seemed perfect. It seemed like it would work.
Fast forward to present day. I am now a divorced, single mom.
"What went wrong?" By all logical reasoning, it doesn't make any sense. I grew up a homeschooler involved with 4-H. In church I sat on the third pew, piano side, reciting verses and wearing dresses that covered my knees. I abided by the common mantra, I don't smoke, I don't chew. I don't go with boys that do. Actually, I didn't go with boys at all. My first kiss was on my wedding day. I kept the home tidy. I gave birth to children and I remained faithful to their dad. I never did anything the world would call "bad."
In other words, I followed a “formula”. And it didn't work.
Believe me, I had a screaming, questioning, begging-and-pleading religious meltdown when the proverbial ABC did not equal XYZ. I wrestled with every cornerstone of the Christian faith and all the pebbles of convictions mingled in. After three years, this is what I learned:
God is not the author of sin.
Sin is a result of living in a sinful world. Sin is born out of a heart that is desperately wicked and clamoring for control. Sin is inside of us, not God.
God allows us to experience sin.
When I see the ugliness of the sin around me, I see how good God is. God allows us to experience the effects of sin (i.e. health issues, hard relationships, etc.) in this world to sanctify His people and to deepen our hunger for heaven.
God will not be manipulated.
You've done it and so have I. We make promises we don't intend to keep and we do good things to tilt the scale and earn a good outcome. Though faithful and constant and abounding in goodness, God cannot be tricked into fulfilling our desires.
God always wins.
My mom got cancer. My dad had heart trouble. My sister fell into depression. My husband left. My kids developed extreme anxiety. My health tanked. But you know what? We have all read the end of the book and the Bible says our God wins.
We will inevitably question the faith if our faith is dependent upon checklists rather than upon the God of faith. Are you following a formula to gain something you think you deserve? Are you obeying Scripture because you want to look better than other people rather than out of love for your Savior? Are you championing side hugging and kissing dating goodbye so your marriage will be a thing of dreams? Friend, what are your motives? While a follower of Christ should obey the loving commands of God, no level of abstinence is going to guarantee a strong marriage. While a believer must display the fruit of the Spirit, no amount of good works is going to ensure that life will be smooth sailing. This is a FAITH WALK!
We walk by faith because we love the God of faith. We live by faith to glorify the Savior in whom our faith rests. We serve by faith, persevere by faith, we obey by faith, we hope and pray and love by faith. And if everything we hold dear is lit on fire and burned to ashes, we can still lift high the name of Jesus because it is by faith that we have so great a salvation.
We don't have to know the plan in order to trust the God of the plan. May we kiss formulas goodbye and simply kiss the feet of Jesus as we follow Him.
For more on this topic, study:
Psalm 31:19; Psalm 73:25; Psalm 143:8;
Proverbs 16:3; Proverbs 16:20; 2 Corinthians 5:7;
Hebrews 13:6; 1 John 5:14-21
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