Growing in Faith

Growing in Faith – Part I: Change

change

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Before I begin my very first post in my growing in faith series, I wanted to direct everyone to read my “Bar exam and Faith” post, which I wrote just before this one, where  you can get some background information on where my life is recently, and why I’m here. Or, you can take a shortcut and just click here to read it. But in any event, welcome to the beginning of my spiritual journey. I anticipate that I will be up against a lot in the years to come including challenges, strained relationships, misunderstandings and pain. But despite all of that, it is my hope that God’s love will shine through me so that others may see. In many ways, I’m very thankful that I’m so stubborn, and I’m not afraid of what’s to come. For the first time in a long time, I feel a peace that is absolutely untouchable. It is also my hope that my blog will give my friends, family and others a better insight into my life, what I’ve been going through, and what’s to come. God gave me the gift of words, and I have loved to write from as far back as I can remember. Most of all, I love that my writing continues to reach and touch so many.

Enough of that. Turning to the topic of this post, those Bible verses really strike a nerve, don’t they? I alluded to this in my previous post, but I examined my life closely while I studied for the bar exam, and what became very evident to me is that I had begun to embark on a dark path that I needed to turn away from. My heart and conscience had been talking to me all along telling me to turn away, telling me that I felt guilty and just plain felt awful for a reason. And yet, I ignored these signs for far too long. According to James 2:14-17, having faith in God is not enough. We must change. Galatians 5:19-21 tells us that those who continue to knowingly sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God. I don’t know about you, but this hit me like 3,000 bricks. Even without reading these Bible verses, I knew that I needed to change my life and to re-focus my mind on what matters the absolute most: to do my absolute best to live my life for Christ. The Bible lists some common and debilitating sins: sexual immorality, drunkenness, envy, fits of anger, jealousy, and idolatry among others (as seen above). I can tell you that I’m guilty of so many of these things. Idolatry, for one, can take many forms. It can be seen in idolizing people, careers, possessions, etc. Law school ran my life; my hunger for success blind-sided me and left me grasping for things that simply will not matter when I die. God wants us to store our treasures in Heaven because all these things on Earth (money, material possessions, relationships) will absolutely be left behind when we pass away.  But what are ways that we can make a difference? What are ways that we can leave a lasting impression on people? I’m talking about changes that will linger even after death and changes that we might see in Heaven. I searched my heart, and my calling is definitely helping people. This is what I have wanted to do since I was a little girl. I want to be there for people who need a friend; I want to be there to help someone through devastation. That’s the deep and underlying reason why I went to law school. It had nothing to do with money or success. I’m crippled with grief when I see the homeless walk the street. I so desperately want to help them beyond giving them money. Going to law school gave me skills to make a profound difference in someone’s life, and it will give me the chance to be a light in the darkness.

I feel like I’m getting a bit off topic, but what those verses in James and Galatians is telling us is that having true and complete faith means leaning on God completely, turning away from temptations and sin, and in many ways, to change our ways. Faith without repentance (change) means nothing. It just seems so silly to me to live our lives as if this is it; to live selfishly and recklessly. There is a much deeper meaning to life; the human race has purpose. The Bible tells us that the human race is meant to live forever, but not in this life (although there will be people alive when God comes back), and we have some serious choices to make. Making changes in one’s life, especially when dealing with faith, takes a courageous spirit, and I have no doubt that I will be up against some difficult challenges.

In the last month,  I have rediscovered myself after feeling so lost and so empty for too long. After 15 years of feeling bitter against the churches I attended in Florida, I found a church here in Illinois that I have connected with, and I have begun to make some beautiful friendships. I have to continue surrounding myself with people who will love and support me because that is where I will thrive. Life is full of trials and tribulations, but it is through these difficulties that I have learned to lean on God  the most. I’m never alone.

I’m still playing around with the direction of these posts, but I welcome all questions and suggestions from my readers. I think in my next post I’ll talk about why God allows suffering since I’ve been examining this fairly closely lately.

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