By this everyone will know if you are my disciples,
If you love one another. – John 13:35 (NIV)
Most of my life I have been unknown as a disciple of Christ. If you had looked into my life, observed how I lived day to day and interacted with others, you would have been convinced that I loved. You would be convinced that I loved…me. The primary focus of my life was me.
Having had a spiritual awakening and by understanding that I love God and then others above myself, my identification as a disciple of Christ has become known and apparent. Not always. But known none the less.
I have struggled in my recovery from sex and relationship addiction to be open and comfortable telling my story. I have been given multiple opportunities to tell my story to others through face to face interactions and through opportunities to write like this. My nagging concern in doing so was to make sure my motivation for telling my story. My counselor gave me some guidelines in this space. Specifically I tell my story if it benefits my own recovery, it benefits the listener, or it is relevant to the conversation. Identifying these requirements takes my own glory or recognition out of the equation.
Yet, recently I had to go back to these guidelines and to scripture on whether or not it was relevant to be known for telling my story. I had someone challenge me in my writing, stating emphatically that I should not put my name on any of my writing as being anonymous keeps the focus on God as the author of my story. I had trouble aligning that with these guidelines, as there are many times where I felt it was relevant that I was known in the story. So, I did what I have become accustomed to doing. I sought out God’s direction through prayer, His word, and others that are strong in their faith and understanding of His word.
Here is what I found. Psalms 107:2 says “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story.” The key focus here is what story am I trying to tell? Is my story about me or about my redemption in the LORD? I dug a little deeper in scripture and found 1 Timothy 1:16 where Paul is describing his journey and his ability and need to tell his story. He says, “But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” Paul is specific in needing to identify himself so that others realize that if he can be redeemed through the LORD, then they can too. That is what I found.
My story is the story of God’s grace, patience, mercy and redemption through me. The story is all about God, but it involves God working through me. Without knowing its my story, you miss the fact that God could work through someone as lost, depraved, and selfish as me. That is a true miracle and story of His redeeming love.