Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Day Of Surrender


(Photo Source)

Fourteen years ago, May 24th fell on a Sunday. It was Memorial Day weekend. I’d gone to a party that Saturday night and was hangin out and drinking with some friends. I decided to run out to my car to get something but one of my friends stopped me because she knew what that “something” was. I’d picked up another habit that my friend called me out on. Aside from the drinking, smoking, cursing, anger, sinful relationships, and straight up rebellion that had been a way of life all throughout high school and the years afterwards, I’d begun to use cocaine here and there with different groups of friends. Each set of friends that I’d get high with thought they were the only ones I’d do it with and that it was [semi] under control. Though it wasn’t quite every day [yet], it was headed that way because I really liked it. A lot. In fact, I liked it more than any drunken feeling, more than any other high, more than another other guy. And the friend who I was with saw that look in my eyes and was courageous enough to say to me what I didn't want to hear but needed to...

 [The 90s ... "B.C."]

It wasn’t the first time a friend had said something to me. Another one of my girlfriends in a completely different group of friends pulled me to the side a few months prior. It was becoming noticeable. What neither of them knew (or could understand) was that God had been dealing with me over the course of those few months. And it seemed that the more He tugged at my heart inwardly, the worse my actions got outwardly. It was a more than a spiritual battle, it was an all out war. You see, I knew I’d serve the Lord. I knew God’s hand was on my life. I knew I was called to ministry one day. I’d always known. And I knew it was gonna be sooner than later. But I wouldn’t go down without a fight. Well, God was truly at work that night. Though I went back and drank the night away with these friends, for some reason, I couldn’t touch the coke. I felt convicted. And I knew the spiritual wrestling was intensifying and the fight (that God would win) would be ending soon. That Sunday morning, I woke up and for some reason (the leading of the Holy Spirit) I drove straight to my parents’ church. I don’t think I fully understood what was going on in my heart but I knew I just needed to get there. It was that day when I made the decision to surrender and serve the Lord.

Sunday, May 24, 1998

Did I change overnight? No. But I knew that day I couldn’t live the way I’d been living anymore. I couldn’t run from God. And though there were a few times after that when I tried to go back, it just wasn’t fun anymore. At all. It actually became sickening. I knew Jesus was the only way and His Holy Ghost roadblocks were preventing me from attempting any other path. The path that, by His grace, I have been on the last fourteen years. It has not been any easy path by any means. I’ve experienced heartache, depression, betrayal, a failed marriage, divorce, illness, misdiagnoses, medicine-induced weight gain, financial hardship, more betrayal, an emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship (that in many ways was even worse that what I’d been through before), mistakes I brought on myself, mistakes that others put on me, attacks of fear, battles with insecurities, anger, bitterness, shame, and deep, deep pain. But I’ve also experienced God’s nearness and faithfulness in a way that I would never trade, revelations of His love and forgiveness, waves of His mercy, and encounters of His truth and amazing grace.

Did all of that stuff hurt? YES. YES. YES. In a way that I would never wish on anyone. But I am who I am today because of what God, the Great I AM, has done in (and for) me through all these hardships; what He’s shown me, who He’s been to me. He’s saved, healed, provided, restored, forgiven, blessed, encouraged, and touched me in a way that no one else ever could or ever will. If I knew what I knew today back on this day in 1998, believe it or not, I’d do it all again just to know Him the way I do.

I am saved. I am forgiven. I am set free.

All because of Jesus.

[2012]

And the best is yet to come…


Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.



 
Do you know Him? His love for you is no different than it is for me.
It is great! And He is no respector of persons. The love and mercy that Jesus has shown me and continues to show me can be yours in an instant if you'll just say yes and surrender to Him.
 
 




4 comments:

Lis said...

Wow. How this brought tears to my eyes. It's amazing to read about how far you have come because of Christ. Thank you for sharing. And happy, albeit belated, spiritual birthday!

Jennifer Roth said...

Thank you, friend. Praise God. It's been a journey! And through it all, God has been so faithful.

ninarachel said...

This post is so amazing and so real. I felt every word of it and I'm so proud of the person I see you becoming. Better and better and serving God more and more everyday. God really wasn't giving up without a fight because he had much bigger plans for you.

Josh Ramos said...

Wow Jenn. You have such an amazing testimony. I know that everything you have been through coupled with the love, forgiveness, hope, etc. you have received from the Lord is the very thing He is going to use to bring those who are hurting, who have been betrayed, who are lost, etc. to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that the Lord is relentless in His pursuit of us. -- Lisi