Remembering Stone #7: The Smile that Destroyed my Religion and More

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1 NLT

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If you have been following along with my spiritual journey thus far, you may recall my “aha moment” when I heard the gospel clearly preached by those fellow students at the University of Arizona back in the late 1960’s (Stone #4). It wasn’t that I hadn’t known or believed the truth of the Gospel: that I was a sinner and that Jesus died to pay for my sin. I knew, believed, and wholeheartedly embraced it all! I even theoretically knew and “believed” that God loved me and everyone else in the world. The surprising thought of that gospel preached to me in Tucson through those lovely students was that the good news was …

ALL a free gift, not earned by works but received by grace through faith!

Well, that truth changed everything … for a time. Then I began to get “taught” by other “more mature” believers.

You will recall I sat under a lot of great teaching in the evangelical Christian community (Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Seminary, Bible churches, etc.) (Stone #5) but also a lot that promoted what was already rampant in my flesh, that is, what I like to call “to-do list Christianity.” The Christian life no longer felt like a gift but rather a job, a duty, a responsibility! I struggled while thinking, If I just could get my act together, then the Lord could really love me and use me. So I tried to be the perfect wife, the perfect parent, the perfect Christian doing the perfect ministry. 

After years of turmoil, my health began to break. I was confused, sick (chemical and food sensitive), anxious, guilt ridden, and finally at the point of giving up. (Stone #6). We had lived in Ohio about two years when a dear friend of mine from our lovely, light-hearted days in McLean VA came for a visit. I didn’t bare my soul to her and tell her what a wreck I had become (I was too ashamed). Rather, I pretended a lot, and she loved and accepted me despite my brokenness (had she even noticed?).

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But the most significant thing my friend did was to give me a tiny devotional book by an “unknown to me” writer from decades past — Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Mme Jeanne Guyon. In that little volume, Mme. Guyon encourages the reader to turn to the Lord who lives WITHIN, not way out there somewhere. So I desperately ran to my indwelling God, flinging myself on Him in my despair.

"LORD, I give up! I can't do this anymore!" 

That's when I heard the Voice and saw "the Smile that destroyed my religion." My Father, through His indwelling Spirit, said to my heart:

I love you even if you never do another thing right again.

And in an instant my soul was set free by the unconditional love of God:

His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."*

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Joy and excitement overwhelmed my soul. I embraced the truth of my Abba Father God’s unconditional love for me. But eventually, every time I would start to trust in the Father’s love, the Enemy/Bully of my soul would come in and whisper, 

God didn’t really say that. That’s too good to be true! It’s all wishful thinking!  

After almost two years, I chose to believe those words sweetly spoken that day — that God truly loved me unconditionally, apart from any to do list and despite my brokenness. Nothing has ever been the same. And you know what? I started seeing this very truth all over the Scriptures. 

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are!
1 John 3:1 NASB

The Father Himself loves you.
John 16:27 NASB

I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38–39 NASB

And so besides seeing LOVE all over the pages of God's Word, I began to see His Smile, that was in reality there all the time. Now I live under that Smile. I live in Grace. But it took a while to discern and throw off legalistic practices (sometimes one by one) and move into living in grace. And that will be the stories in the subsequent “Stones of Remembrance.”

In the meantime, may I ask, what about you, my friend? Are you living under what you think is God's frown or even His fickleness (back and forth), as I was? Those are lies from the Bully of your soul (see "Flawless...Really?"). Embrace God and His unconditional love:

His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."* 

Live under His Smile and in pure Grace because that is our reality as beloved children of God. 

*His  "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."*

*His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."*

YOUR TURN

Before starting your own remembering stones, be sure to read the introduction to this series:
Remembering Stones: Reflecting on a Life Being Lived. This will help you with perspective.
Also to get caught up with the series, see:
Stone #1: The Will of God
Stone #2: The Holy Spirit
Stone #3: The Holy Scriptures
Stone #4: The Gospel of Grace
Stone #5: The Sovereign God
Stone #6: The Dark Night of my Soul

What about you, dear reader? What are your earliest memories? Was there a significant person, place, truth that impacted you in your early years? What were your “stepping stones/remembering stones”? This doesn’t have to be set in concrete. You may likely change around your order and even delete/add as you go along. Just jot down your “now thoughts.”

And jot down even the hard things that happened in your life. You can then process them with the Lord. Watch how He takes those struggles and trials, as time goes on, and “filters” them into the truths about Himself and about your life that you can build upon.

Just start writing or journaling your thoughts — no need to write it up formally. I had started out with “Topics” and descriptions long before I started writing it up formally.

Happy reminiscing, recording, and writing!

And a shameless plug: The with-ness of our God ( Kirkus Review)

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