Even when we are afraid, God gives us strength. Glory and peace be His eternal name.
When I was 13, I had decided to push my relationship with Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit. My home church refers to this process as sanctification. After you are saved through salvation, you take the next step rendering everything to Him.
Sanctification is not immediately part of salvation.
In salvation, Christ chose to give His all to us. When we enter salvation we start a relationship with Christ.
In sanctification, we choose to give God our all. I view it as part of the process in a relationship with Christ.
We enter a relationship with Christ through His salvation.
We are baptized (does not have to be by physical water) symbolizing we are called by Him and we want to draw closer.
Then we choose in our relationship with Jesus to further even that. This is sanctification.
My pastor put it simply, “In salvation you receive Christ, but in sanctification Christ receives you.”
(ESV) Romans 6:22 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”
From the beginning, when I was 4, my relationship with Christ was very much one on one. I was not led to salvation through anyone except Christ.
That isn’t to say no one could have helped me. I knew the words of salvation by then through church and Christian activities. So by myself, one summer day, I knelt at my swing set and, as the sunset drew near, I asked Christ into my life. I remember that. I ran into the kitchen, sunlight pouring through the windows, and told my mom, who was washing the dishes.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have good shepherds and teachers to help me. But God had always directed me to come to Him.
When I turned 13, I wanted God to be included extremely in my life. I would speak to Him whenever. Chatting out my feelings, my thoughts, they weren’t requests and they weren’t necessarily praises either.
I just spoke to Him. And the more I continued, the more I truly felt heard. I did pray and worship in church, but more often than not, on my own.
Problem With Christian Maturity In Youth
The more I continued in daily talk and prayers, the more I enjoyed it. The intensity of my connection to Him furthered my prayers. I would often cry out, literally in tears, to Him. Not out of sadness, but from what I felt from talking to Him. This puzzled people.
I didn’t act my age and it frustrated me to be in youth settings that focused on activities and not more intensely on scripture and God. And this…almost wasn’t accepted, or at least extremely confusing to adults.
I wanted to be with the adults. I craved learning and hearing more. Watered down milk sermons, nope didn’t care for it. Give me the meat.
(NKJ) 1 Corinthians 3:01-02 “And I, breathen, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able.”
I was in the midst of the masses. The mist of what most teens truly needed to hear. The tools needed for them to form friendships, and to come to Christ.
But I wanted more because God was always by my side. I clung to Him. And I grew frustrated and confused.
Why was I so different?
I would read scripture on my own and I would questions adults. Not to challenge them, but to ask when I disagreed with what I heard in discussions. I’m thankful for my pastor that encouraged me during those Sunday and Wednesday night services. I’m grateful for a shepherd that looked out for me. Pastor Jim, thank you.
But most adults didn’t understand me. They tried to water down how I talked. I could not speak or think as freely as I would have liked because it was advanced… and not common.
At a youth overnight event, I had started praying by my sleeping bag when we arrived. Since I pray intensely, tears were streaming. The adults, of course, wanted to make sure that I was fine.
But after I responded, “Yeah, just praying,” they encouraged me to get up, and talk to other teens, do activities.
This was conflicting to me even more. I’m doing what adults wanted teens to do in church, but now that we’re not at church it’s odd?
A week revival at a church had a program for teens. My friends, who both craved attention from me, did not make that trip easy. One left during the week. While the other ditched me for new friends she had met.
During the time she ditched me, she had promised that we would be able to hang out right after service. She had the room key so I was locked out of the room. In the hallway full of dorms, where the female teens stayed, I sat outside my door, reading my bible.
Youth leaders approached me. Even though I was reading scripture, they told me to go tell the other girls in their rooms (which wasn’t my job) to go outside and play kickball.
This only frustrated me more. I wasn’t focused on church, but the relationship. I wanted the focus to be on God more.
My own peers didn’t understand me. One friend put me on a pedestal because I appeared, “perfect.”
But if I struggled, then she became completely disappointed in me. Because I was young, and I am human, I made mistakes.
But God doesn’t. Our eyes should never be on mankind anyway.
Misunderstood on both sides, I was either treated like everyone else or treated like I was so far gone from everyone else. No one really spoke on my level. Maybe… no one knew.
And for these reasons, I asked God to be my Teacher.
I asked God to direct me and open my eyes to scripture.
“Lord, You have to teach me.”
What Is My Calling
Around this time, still, 13, sparks and passion flamed my heart. I was noticing hypocrisy, confusion, the mask of Christians. Anger grew within me.
We have to grow as Christians if we are to be the light. You cannot lead another to Christ if you do not reflect. We do not save, but Christ does. If Christ can’t use us as vessels, He isn’t shining.
Several years later God gave me my answer. On a Wednesday night service, the speaker of the night asked us what our calling was. My heart stirred and immediately my heart answered,
“Believers. My calling is for believers.”
(NLT) 2 Peter 2:21 “It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life.”
I’ve had dreams where I would be speaking to a body of believers. Sometimes in those dreams, I would be yelling and crying out to them. Anything to get them to understand what God is revealing. We cannot stay the same.
Becoming A Branch Of The Vine
Every one is a different branch of the True Vine. We all have callings. We have talents He has given us. We need to be attentive to Him.
(B) John 15: 01-03 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes to make it even more fruitful.”
God took years to truly humble those feelings that I began to feel when I was 13. He used the anger to become understanding. He used frustration to become kindness. And yes, He is still at work. How great is our God!
Not Being Afraid To Speak Among The Masses
God has shown me it is okay to be in the midst of the masses because He truly has a plan!
I don’t know if anyone can relate to this if you were or are a teen, young and misunderstood.
I still get misunderstood all the time. I thought my 20s would change that, but it wasn’t so. Yet when God revealed my calling, everything started to make sense. Where people failed me, God didn’t.
Therefore, I want to give you a promise that God gave me. Some of you may already be familiar.
(NKJ) Jeremiah 1:06-09 ““Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth. But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, I am a youth, for you shall go to all to whom I send you. And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.””
Do you know what God has called you to do?
(Can’t get enough posts? Check out my second blog Peeking Beneath)