James chapter one says, Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.
(James 1:23-25 NIV)
What's she gotten into now? What do you mean she's left the church? She's joined a cult! Are we going to find her at the airport hanging out with the Hari Krishnas and playing finger cymbals? These are a few of the comments I received from exuberant family members over my new found faith in Jesus Christ.
An inherent tendency to walk on the wild side brought with it several run-ins in my life. After run-ins with the law, run-ins with misery, run-ins with alcohol abuse, I finally had a run-in into the loving arms of Jesus.
But being the spirited person that I am, my family's traditional church just did not equal the blazing passion stirring in my heart for God so I started attending a more spirited church.
A radical change in my heart brought about radical changes in my life. Good-time Charlie's heart had undergone a circumcision and I was no longer known for being the life of the party. There was a period of time where unproductive and even detrimental relationships had to be put aside in order to lay a solid foundation in my life with God.
When is my past ever going to be the past? I cried out to the Lord, one day. But, I knew in my heart a clean break with the past was necessary unless I wanted the Hunch Back of Notre Dame to continue to lurk around in the shadows of my life.
The further and closer one walks with God, the further away the past becomes. In Christ, I was a new creature with new features so to try to continue in my old pattern of life would be unwise.
The lull of a light conversation naturally caused my guard to go down as I was speaking to a close relative on the phone. Suddenly, out of nowhere, came yet one more tongue-lashing concerning my changed life. Who knows, perhaps they would have been more accepting if I'd chosen a career in prostitution and drug sales.
You're nothing but a wall flower with no friends, was one of the statements that stuck in my heart the most. Hanging up the phone, sobbing and at my wits end, I stood in my kitchen and cried out to God, What am I going to do?
That day the Lord visited me in my distress. By the Holy Spirit, He spoke words of comfort and encouragement to me. He said, Sandra, you need to see yourself as I see you. In Me, you are a new creature, the old things have passed away-behold, all things have become new. It needs to be that when words like that come to you, it will be as ridiculous as if someone would tell you that you have big purple ears and a nose like an elephant.
You can laugh at that because you know it's not true, since you looked in the mirror this morning and saw what you really look like. It's the same way when you look in My Word, as you read you will see a reflection of the new creature that you are in Christ.
His Shield of Protection
The Lord continued to impress upon my heart how His Word produces faith. It becomes a shield of faith and that shield is to be put in front of me to quench the fiery darts of the enemy. Suddenly, I saw how a shield is not an extracting instrument to remove these flaming darts but protects me before they even get a chance to penetrate my heart.
The truths the Lord spoke to me that day literally changed my outlook. Moreover, discouraging statements no longer had the same sting. With my shield of faith in place, critical words lost their venom since I was now hearing, Hey, you have big purple ears and a nose like an elephant!
Ha, ha, ha! That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard given the fact that I've looked in the mirror of God's Word and know the Truth-the truth that set me free!
Now, after witnessing God's faithfulness in my life over the years, my relatives have come to appreciate my new lifestyle. My family actually respects me. Sometimes, they even call me for prayer and encouragement.
As a missionary the last several years, I've been privileged to travel abroad and to speak for Him in many different nations, especially Europe. I now have lots of international friendships.
Not bad-for a wallflower!
Sandra Hughes is an ordained minister, compelling speaker, and Director of All Nations School of Ministry located in Houston, Texas. She is a graduate of DOMATA Missions Training School and has served as Director of The Family Life Institute for Biblical Studies at Lakewood Church. Visit http://www.sandrahughes.org to book Sandra Hughes for your next church service, conference, meeting or retreat.
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