My UPC Experience
There is truly nothing we can DO except to ACCEPT His salvation!!! Until I finally knew that in my heart, I couldn't find joy anywhere. And I did look - both in the UPC and out in the world.
There was no joy because I was trying to earn God's approval by my own works (behaviors)! And I had a misconception of who God is, as well. There are many thoughts going through my head as I'm pondering your question. Lots of layers to that.
First thing that comes to mind: I couldn't really understand the significance of His sacrifice on the cross because of my comprehension of "the truth"! I'd heard that His blood covers my sins if I accept Him as my Savior...but, that just seems way too easy, doesn't it? Being a cradle UPC, there was never a chance to think about that possibility. I was taught Acts 2:38 from birth. And all the rules that went with it.
Then there was always the possibility of "missing Heaven" over the slightest infraction of the rules. My concept was of this God who was always waiting for me to screw up so that He could throw me into Hell for all eternity. God would only love me if I kept all those rules. It just didn't make sense that God would create us, knowing the end at the beginning, and knowing we would fail and creating a hell to send us to?!
AND even as a child - the rules didn't make sense! When I questioned my parents I got all the pat answers that everyone on this group knows by heart. But that just didn't add up for me. So I always had it in the back of my mind that something just wasn't right. And where was this joy I was supposed to have? I was too scared of Him to have any joy!
I was "in & out of church" several times as an adult. I never lasted more than 3 months each time. (Just long enough for my bangs to get totally out of control and to put on a few pounds like a lot of others here!) I would feel God's call on my life but I really didn't know how to deal with the "truth" issue. I couldn't reconcile it in my head for soooooo long!!!! And I couldn't find the elusive joy.
Let me tell you, when I wasn't "in church" I really wasn't in church! I had this attitude that if I was going to go to hell then, by golly, I was going to enjoy my time here on this earth. And I think that attitude is very common among people who "backslide" from the UPC.
Anyway, I finally came to a point in my life that I was so miserable and my heart so longed for a real relationship with God that I began to ask Him to show me the real truth, however He had to do that. I asked Him to let me see His Word the way He wants me to see it. I had even reconciled myself to the possibility of "them" being right (although I think I already knew deep in my heart that they weren't). I said, "Lord, whatever you have to do to me, just please save me".
I began to study my Bible through the new eyes He's given me, and to listen to lots of Christian radio (NOT word of faith, either). And my eyes began to open to the real meaning of God's grace, the real meaning of salvation, and, most importantly, the real nature of my Saviour. He's not a cosmic killjoy and He's not a Holy Genie in a Bottle, either. He is pure love who has no evil in Him. His yoke is not heavy. The burden is very light because He always walks beside me. I have no desire to do the things I used to do, finally!
Because I understand and accept His love and I know it's not about what I do - and what I don't do - and all that legalism. I serve Him because He loves me and I love Him. It takes so much pressure off, just knowing that I can't earn this salvation. Yes, I still sin sometimes. And I absolutely do repent! He convicts my heart! But I'm a work-in-progress, not to be perfected in this world that comes in the next world! I'm here to minister to others that they might see Jesus in me, to be salt and light in a dark world. Hey, world, I'm a child of the KING!!!! It's just an awesome place to come to. I've found the pure joy and peace I've always longed for!
I could continue on for many pages but I'll stop with this advice...don't give up. Pursue Him with an earnest, sincere heart and you will find Him! Set aside your preconceived ideas and allow the Lord to renew your heart.
(This was a post from the Christian-Koinonia support group and is used with the permission of the author.)
Posted March 12, 2003
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