Welcome to Saturday Share!
The purpose of this weekly feature is to provide a space for regular people to share their real-life encounters with Jesus. It’s about living in the middle – on the way to the finish line. If we still have breath to tell our stories then our race isn’t finished.
I believe we sharpen one another and delight God’s heart when we testify of His great work in our lives. Be encouraged to put one foot in front of the other, and spur someone on while you’re at it!
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 NIV
I am honored to welcome back, my feature Saturday Share writer:
by Anna Smit
John 16: 8 – 11 (ESV)
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.
Growing up in the church, I was deeply convicted of my sin – every little sin. But what I didn’t begin to experientially understand until I returned from my Prodigal journey, was that Jesus came not just to convict me of my sin, but He also came to convict me of His righteousness.
When I returned from my more than twenty years as a Prodigal, it was the first time in my life I think my heart truly began to understand the depth of God’s mercy to us. Here He was not wagging his finger at my many, many sins, but welcoming me into His Presence to be covered in His healing wings and held tightly in His loving arms. Just as the Father ran toward His Prodigal Son and hugged him tight before he could get his confession out.
In the months and years since, God has grown my understanding of this mercy and He continues to do so. His mercy is available to each and every person who calls upon His Name. And when He then looks at us, who He has adopted through the declaration of our faith in Christ Jesus, He no longer sees us (and our many, many sins), but He sees His own Beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased, covering us.
Colossians 2:13 – 15 (ESV)
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
It was the peace of God descending upon my wounded, hardened and grieving heart that led me to return to His open arms.Overwhelmed by His love for me and deeply remorseful of my sin, I confessed each one He convicted me of – not just to Him, but also to the Body of Christ around me.
Now, I am learning what it is to seek God with my whole heart, including the pain and hurt that lies buried beneath. No, our sinful and wounded heart do not stop our Messiah from completing the good work of healing He has begun in us – for if that was so, not one of us would ever be able to stand before His throne, complete and whole. For in Him alone, we are dead to sin and alive to Christ.
Revelation 21: 6 (ESV)
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the water of life without payment.
Now, as a returned Prodigal I pray that God would keep convicting me of my sin and lead me to open confession and repentance as I lean into His righteousness. For it is through this the unbelievers in my own life are beholding the depth of my Savior’s kindness and love for them also. It is revealing to them and to my own wounded and deceitful heart that Christ has not come for those who can (outwardly) stick to the rules, who have it all together, but rather for the weak and broken sinners – for every single one of us.
For, it is in our confession and repentance that Christ becomes visible. It is then we move from being a Pharasitical cup kept shiny clean on the outside, to being what we truly are – a very real and sinful church being furiously pursued by the relentless love of its Savior. Then the world will see the grace and love of God entering weakness and empowering lives holy and pleasing unto Him. They will see the sanctifying work of Christ in and through us, moving to complete the work He has begun in us.
The biggest blessings I have received from Christians since returning Home are from those who have dared to be honest about their sinful turning, their doubts, and fears. From those who aren’t ashamedly hiding the suffering they have walked through in the past and are walking through now, but who are openly sharing of God’s working in them through the healing process. The truth and grace present in them has stripped me of so much shame, a shame that helped push me down my Prodigal path all those years earlier.
1 John 1: 5 – 7 NLT
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.
I am slowly beginning to experientially understand the call to boast in our weakness. It is this that shines the Light of our Lord into the lives of the lost too. For our Savior has not only come to open our eyes to the sin in our life but also to awaken our freedom from sin, fear, and shame. A gift that is freely available to all men and women in Christ Jesus.
The death of our Savior upon the cross has already paid in full for our every sin of the past, the present and the future. No, we don’t confess our sins to earn our righteousness. We confess our sins to experience the freedom wrought by the finished work of the Cross.
And rooted in this Truth we can rest securely in the true Source of our salvation. We can shine the Light of God’s grace brightly for all to see. We can overflow in an open confession and repentance to the glory of His mighty Name.
Psalm 65: 2 – 4 (NKJV)
2 O You who hear prayer,
To You all flesh will come.
3 Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions,
You will provide atonement for them.
4 Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.
Will you join me in prayer today?
Oh Father God, thank You so very much for walking to that Cross weeping for us and crying: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Forgive us for all the times we have turned away from both the truth of our sin and of Your righteous covering. Forgive us for turning away from the unbelievable gift You wrought as You lay bleeding on that Cross for us.
Father, lead our souls to greatly rejoice and exult in You, our God. For You have clothed us with the garments of salvation through Your Son’s bloodshed at the Cross; You have covered us with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Convict us of this beautiful truth, Father (Isaiah 61:10 (ESV).
And place brothers and sisters around us who openly confess and repent of their sins and embolden us to be these people too. Help us to convict each other of Your gift of righteousness, by boasting in our weakness. Grow a deep yearning in us for Your living Word. Open our hearts with Your Holy Spirit as we read the Scriptures that we might truly see and live in the freedom that is already ours in Christ Jesus.
Pursue us with Your kindness as You have promised to do.
In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.
Enjoy listening to Anna recite her poem: Outstretched Arms
Passion – Whole Heart – featuring Kristian Stanfill
Anna is a returned Prodigal of more than twenty years. In September 2017, she opened Beloved Prodigal, answering God’s call to encourage and strengthen family and friends of Prodigals in the Word and the testimony of their fellow believers. Recently, upon facing a relapse of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she released this ministry to her Team of writers to begin sharing of God’s love and grace from her place of weakness at her old blog Joy of the Spirit Within. Her vision is to see God’s Light lift the cloud of shame hanging over those suffering from mental illness. Anna would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.