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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Reed

Telling My Story

Holy Week is almost done.

We are approaching Sunday's celebrations of life and hope, and I can't wait to rejoice with my church family as we raise our voices in song and worship to our Savior.

How have you been preparing your heart in reflection and celebration for what Easter is all about? I have been reading through the Gospel accounts and reading through some of the connected prophetic passages in each account. These passages point us to the sacrifice, the sorrow, the separation Jesus endured so we could be set free. But, of course, the story doesn't end in sorrow. In The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones opens the story of the resurrection with the followers of Jesus lamenting the fact that he was dead and that things weren't supposed to "end that way". Then she writes, "but who said anything about 'the end'?" (YES!)

Because without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith would be in vain (I Corinthians 15). The boys and I talked about this yesterday- if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, could we be saved? No! Because then Jesus would have been just like any other person or religious leader. But, because he DID rise, he proved himself to be everything our hearts and souls and lives needed: a Savior, a Perfect Sacrifice, a Redeemer, a Great High Priest, a Conqueror, a King, God himself!

He broke through all the boundaries of our sin, our sorrows, our separation from God and provided the way for all that to be restored. His life for ours. His sinless body bearing our multitude of sin. His heart carrying our sorrows. His spirit being separated from his beloved Father on our behalf. And, all this for love of us.

Again, Sally Lloyd Jones writes, "It wasn't the nails that held {Jesus} to the cross. It was love."

As I was reading through these passages again, I came to the part in Mark 14 where Peter denies Jesus. At the end of the account, Mark points out Peter, after remembering what Jesus had previously told him, breaks down and weeps over what he has done.

Charles Spurgeon writes this in regard to these verses: "Can we, when we are reminded of our sins and their exceeding sinfulness remain stolid and stubborn? May we never take a dry-eyed look at sin... [recollect]the Savior's full forgiveness. To think that we have offended so good and kind a Lord is more than sufficient reason for being constant weepers."

"Constant weepers".

Is this how you regularly view your sin? How do you respond when asked to share what God has done for you? What is your response to reading through the accounts of Jesus' sacrifice for you? How has his death and resurrection changed your life?

Our church starts new studies for Sunday school about every 8-10 weeks. I recently joined a new class on Evangelism and Discipleship. In this class, the teacher took us to Paul's defense before King Agrippa and Festus (Acts 26). As we read through the passage, we find Paul declaring what God has done, who Jesus is, the powerful saving message that is ours. His testimony is full of truth and passion- and reading through it takes less that 4 minutes! Our teacher has challenged us to write down our testimonies of what God has done for us, clearly, concisely, and to be able to declare it with passion. He told us to "hone it and own it"! (We are definitely considering getting t-shirts printed with this slogan! Ha!)

All this to say, as I wrote mine down the other day, and read through it, I found myself moved to tears over what God has done in my life. I would challenge you to do this same exercise- in celebration and thanksgiving for the life and hope and redemption that is yours in Christ! If you do not have this hope, I would urge you to speak with someone about how you can know what it is to be redeemed, forgiven, and set free from the bondage to sin. What joy it is to be found in him, bearing the righteousness of Christ alone!

Stick around here and read through my testimony below; it will only take a few minutes- promise! (I am still working through the "honing and owning", but I hope you will be encouraged by what God has done.) Let's weep over our sins, but also rejoice together this weekend in the saving grace that is ours in Christ, the life that he gives us through his resurrection, and the hope we have for life eternal!

Read more here:

I grew up going to church and my family was very actively involved in church. I remember as a small child saying some type of prayer, but the connection to salvation was largely missing. As a 12-year-old, I was greatly convicted during a message by a guest speaker at our church that if I died I would be separated from God. My mom took me to one of the church offices and was with me while I prayed for God to save me from my sin so I would no longer be separated from him.

Even after this, though, I had no real understanding of what happens "next". I knew I was supposed to do certain things: read my Bible, go to church, be nice to people.... but in connection to "living by the Spirit", I was still confused. I was baptized a few months after this, because I knew that's what I should do, but most of what I did after this became self-focused and "how can I look the best way"? I often thought about God and what I should do, but a lot of it was concerned with outward shows while my heart and mind constantly ignored the Spirit's convictions about the many ways I was selfish and "just in this for me". I still wanted to hang on to pieces of my old man that made me comfortable. This continual self-motivated striving led to apathy and a concern only for myself where I began to make excuses for how I behaved and the choices I was making. I began to do everything I could to please others (essentially myself!), which led me down a destructive path of anorexia and binge-eating- all in an attempt to be thin and "approved" for how my body looked to others.

This was a 10+ year up-and-down cycle which involved a lot of additional idol

The summer in between my sophomore and junior years of college. I was very angry, confused, and proud. I think in this photo. I maybe weighed 100-ish pounds.

worship of anger, jealousy, lying, and the continual destructive eating habits. I sometimes thought maybe "this time" I would get it all under control and be a normal person again, only to revert back time and time again. These behaviors followed me into our marriage and proved themselves quite evident in the selfish ways I responded to and treated my husband and our marriage.

After I had our second baby, I was desperate. I couldn't keep holding it all together. My kids needed someone to teach them about God, but here I was living the biggest hypocritical lie. I longed for comfort, and help and peace and wisdom. I wanted joy back in my life. I began reading my Bible again (which I had not been for a long time). In it, I found myself mirrored in the actions of the Israelites: forsaking my Savior for the idols that appealed to my flesh.

This broke me. The Spirit showed me the truth about how I was living. I ran to God, confessing the selfish ways I had been living, my pride, my anger, my jealousy- and he gloriously and faithfully forgave me.

This is me now! So incredibly grateful for what God has done! Photo credit to Hoyt

Since that point, I have been actively pursuing God, searching and studying the Word, and finding joy again in my Savior. I have been learning to love him, the church, and his Word. I long for others to know him, his saving power, his sustaining grace, and his steadfast love.

I praise him for the work he has done- and is doing- and am humbled that he could use such a soul and life as mine.

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20, emphasis mine)

"To this I hold my hope is only Jesus.

All the glory ever more to him.

When the race is complete

Still my lips shall repeat:

Yet not I, but through Christ in me."

(Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me", by CityAlight)

Let's rejoice together, proclaiming the stories of what Christ has done for us- the life, the hope- his redeeming work! I would love to hear your story- send me a message. I would love to rejoice with you!

Songs for Meditation:

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