“You remind me of things forgotten. You unwind me until I’m totally undone. And with your arms around me. Fear was no match for your love. Now you’ve won me.” (Steffany Gretzinger, ‘Letting go’)
As this year begins to wrap up, I finish it with a thankful heart. Not only for how crazy good this year has been but for how much grace God has poured over my life. I still have a lot of wisdom to grow in and life to live. However, to see how God has poured purpose over my life and brought me out of a lot of shame and darkness has been incredible. It sounds cliche, but, I now see life with a lot more colour. Truthfully, I was tangled up in myself that I could not see the beauty that God had for my life. Many times I chose to believe I was not loved because I felt I was not worthy or good enough to come before God. I chose to chase after people because it was a love I could see and feel. It was a temporary and crumbling love. God has been so gracious towards me in my disobedience and I have never known a love like that before. As I reflect on this year, I remember the books that I received. How they were used to uproot the lies that had become the foundation of my life. Instead of those lies, truth was placed into those holes and beauty and light began to emerge. I am incredibly thankful for the amount of worship music that has poured into my ears this year. The healing that God spoke through that music was and still is incredible. Now listening to those songs, fills my heart with thanksgiving of how much change God has brought into my life. If there is one album I can recommend you from this year, it would be Amanda Cook’s ‘House on a Hill’. That album is a wonderful declaration of who God is and who we are in him.
As I finish this year encouraged, I want to share some of the lessons I have learned from this year. God does remain faithful to us, even when we feel so rejected and alone. We are his children and we are not cast off from him and he is not distant from us. These truths can be so hard to believe but we need to remember that we are loved because he first loved us. It is not by our own gain that we are loved it is because Jesus paid it all. We can come before God as broken as we are, for we are already covered by the blood of Christ. Trust in all that Jesus has done for us, we are in relationship with God again and that is incredible.
2 Corinthians 5v17-21 ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I am a child of God, no one can take that away from me. A price has been paid and I am now part of the family, I have been adopted into the family. The NLT of Ephesians 1v5 puts this beautifully. ‘God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.’ For a long time I struggled with with my identity in Christ because I felt that it was continuously changing, I felt like if I messed up I was no longer worthy enough to be a part of that family. I have came to realise, my mistakes have already been paid for. It was not only my mistakes until I came to faith, it is also the mistakes that I make throughout my faith. The Bible is full of people who loved God but still were human, they messed up. Yes it was a sin but God did not cast them off. He was with them through it all. To learn that my identity in Christ is a steadfast truth, has really helped my faith to grow. It has helped me to be more honest before God and to embrace his love more fully. It has helped me to become more grounded in life and to be thankful for the character and the passions that God has gave me. For God did not make us to be all the same. God made us fearfully and wonderfully with all different characteristics and passions. For some of us, myself included, when I was told about getting rid of the old self I came to believe that meant getting rid of everything which was connected to me before I came to faith. That is not true. There were ways that I did need to remove from my life because they were in no way beneficial to my faith. However, God formed me in a way which he wanted me to be. Whether it be my sense of humour or my love for reading. God did not create us all to be droids.
One of the greatest challenges this year has been removing a lot of toxicity from my life. I can truly tell you that the mindset I began 2019 with and the mindset I am finishing 2019 is completely transformed and that is such a blessing. In God sending me to do ministry in Amsterdam (I truly believe that it is by God’s guidance because I would have never found that ministry without him) brought a lot of healing. I was incredibly nervous to go and live with many Christians, especially after my university experience. God showed me what true faith looks like in people. I was incredibly thankful to have such a good group of godly women around me. One of those women I shared so much of my hurt and mistakes with. There was no judgement, she spoke God’s truth over it all and so much healing came from that. It enabled me to be more open with my own story and sharing that with people, has led to them being blessed and knowing they are not alone. All of us should be encouraged to look out for one another. Listen to what people have to say and allow them to process it all. Let us not judge but in time speak the truth of God over it. Let healing come from the greatest healer of all!
A further issue I needed to deal with was the media I was consuming. I gave very little thought to the music I was listening to and the shows and films I would watch. I am not saying that I have completely disregarded all media, I just watched Peaky Blinders series 5 and it was awesome. Deep down I knew there was an issue with what music I was listening too. Especially the way it would impact my emotions and the memories that would come back with that music. I put a lot of my identity in that music because I felt lost. As I began to move on through this year and my faith was growing, every time I felt I had messed up. I would always turn back to this music, it did not help to deal with the situation instead it blocked it out for a while. Emotionally it would drag me down further. I needed to let it go to move forward. For 10 years it has been a big part of how I viewed society and how I viewed myself. I think now, I have outgrown it and to keep listening to it would be disobedient and not wise. Not only music but there are TV shows, books and Youtube channels that I needed to remove because they were not fruitful in any sense. Watching something for the sake of watching it, is a huge waste of time. For yourselves, maybe it is something you can consider too. It took me many years, to understand why and actually surrender it. It does not automatically change your faith in surrendering things. Instead, it leaves Jesus more room to work in our lives and through our lives to others. Romans 12v2 ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.’
The greatest lesson this year has been learning to share with people about Jesus. I am not one of the most confident people in going and speaking to others. However, I have loved being able to meet so many people from all over the world and been blessed to get to know them. It has not always been easy sharing the gospel with people, some people have told me straight that they are not interested. On the other hand, by meeting people who travel a lot you come to understand how open they are. While they may not receive the gospel message straight away, we can all be encouraged that in sharing we begin to sow seeds. People leave but we hold them in our heart and pray for them. One vital aspect of doing any sort of ministry with people is getting to know who they are first. That makes all the difference, Jesus knew people intimately for who they were. We should learn to continuously love people and serve them well. 1 John 4v12 ‘For no one has ever seen God but if we love one another, God’s love is made complete in us‘ In serving people, that helped me to heal and to grow in confidence again.
Throughout my blogs this year, I have been trying to encourage you all to come before God as you are. I focused a lot on self-worth and on bringing biblical passages into an understanding for us all. As I have wrote these blogs , they have been instrumental for getting me to the place that I am today. I hope you will come to know how much God loves you and he sees you. He walks through every area of life with you. We are his and our names are etched on his hands. Isaiah 49v16 ‘See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands’ .Walking with God is not always easy but his way brings life and fulfilment, more than the world can ever bring!
I will sign off now, until the beginning of next year. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. Enjoy time with your family and loved ones. Keep in the faith. Love you all, Victoria. xx
P.S I am incredibly thankful to my family, who have been my greatest supporters and who never stop encouraging me. I am thankful God placed me into our family and thank you for everything!