by Michele Rayburn
By the time I came to know the Lord at the age of 23, I had already lived a life without the Lord that had left me in "a world of hurt".
As a new Christian and for many years to come, I had to learn what it meant to die to self.
I had to understand Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me...", and Matthew 16:24 where Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
My husband would often remind me to "deny self" and to "die to self". And after many failed attempts to do so, I finally said, "I can't die to self myself. That is something that only the Lord can do. I can't do it in my own flesh, but only by His Spirit."
It was when I finally let go of trying to do the work that only the Holy Spirit could do, that I began to grow in His grace.
I learned that not only can I not change others, but I can't even change myself.
And so I learned to entrust the Lord with all the unreconciled hurts of the past. And I also learned to care only about what the Lord thought of me.
And what the Lord thought of me, as His child, was that I was totally loved and accepted by Him always. When a child of God can rest in knowing that, they can then begin to grow in His grace.
I think that if the true grace of God has been shown to us, it will cause us to show grace to others. And that's when we as Christians will begin to love others unconditionally, just as God loves us.
"...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." - Philippians 2:13