By Stacey Philpot
Have you ever disqualified yourself? Maybe you benched yourself from some area of life because you’ve determined you’re too inexperienced, too lacking, or even too tainted by your past. You decided if others saw how poorly you made Pinterest recipes or knew what you’d done in college, they’d be in agreement with your permanent position on the bench. So you stay there, on the sidelines, silently longing for the life God has for you.
Me too. My “I don’t belong here. I’m not good enough. Don’t you remember what I’ve done?” record is worn from such frequent play. Deep grooves mark the side I’ve played the most, the one that contains my deepest, darkest secrets. These regrets, piled to the ceiling, are the ones that have long convinced me I couldn’t write about things like holiness. I was disqualified.
I knew I was forgiven, but wouldn’t it be pushing my luck to talk to others about holiness after what I’d done? Didn’t I have to be squeaky clean to talk about holiness? Weren’t “messy” people permanently disqualified?
If you have some deep, dark secrets, I bet you’re nodding your head in agreement right now. Oh, you yearn to do what God’s called you to, but how could you? After all you’ve done?
It’s not like people in the Bible did great things for God after they screwed up royally, right? Wait, I think a couple of them may have. There was that David guy. Someone named Moses? Paul. I feel as though he might have had a crucial role in the New Testament despite his unsavory reputation.
I also want to tell you about me, a girl named Stacey. Did you know she was unfaithful to her first husband? She conceived a child with another man. And although people advised her not to grieve that child when she lost him in the early weeks of her pregnancy because she “never should have been pregnant in the first place,” she did grieve. She grieved every broken choice, every broken heart, and the weight of broken promises shackled to her every step.
Her broken heart led her to make more broken choices, but it seemed no one could see her hurting heart, only her destructive choices. They heaped shame and condemnation upon her. Would the shattered pieces of her heart ever come back together? Would anyone ever see worth in her again?
One night, smothered by pain and isolation, she cried out to Jesus for healing and help. He answered her.
Did you know the blood of Jesus is for Christians too? My whole life I knew Jesus washed me white as snow, but somehow I’d come to believe I shouldn’t need his blood again.
One night I stood wearing a volunteer T-shirt, beaming with pride to belong somewhere. I’d once been the youth pastor’s wife over a ministry of hundreds. Now being a greeter at the door was like winning the lottery. I gave it my all each and every week.
This particular week, the lights were dim as the youth band transitioned into their next song, “Oh, the Blood.” My shame film felt particularly thick that week. Suddenly the words to the song had new meaning. I heard them anew. The blood of Jesus could wash me white as snow. What had once been scarlet could be washed. How could this be? As my heart and tears poured forth, I knew this was true and for me.
Oh, the gospel truly is good news.
I went on to spend the next several years in intensive counseling. I grew roots deep, like a tree planted by the waters. The Lord asked me for a year of commitment to him and him alone, a year with no romantic relationships so he could teach me about faithfulness that originates from a secret place in your heart no one can see. I said yes! When I caught myself letting others define me by who’d I’d been, I ran back to the cross, and there Jesus whispered, “This has only as much power over you as you give it. “
When I caught myself letting others define me by who I’d been, I ran back to the cross, and there Jesus whispered, “This has only as much power over you as you give it. “
I’ve learned holiness is a lifelong process. Wherever you find yourself in the process today, you aren’t disqualified. Don’t give your past the power. Give the power to the blood of Jesus.
If I can talk about holiness, so can you.
Stacey Philpot is wife to Ryan and mother to Hayden, Julie, and Avery. She is a writer, goofball, and avid reader. Stacey has ministered for over 15 years to youth and women in her community in order to equip them to go deeper in Christ. She blogs at aliferepaired.com and chronicallywhole.com.
Photograph © Usama, used with permission