Does anyone else feel like the stories of the Old Testament sound more like a Netflix original than Sunday morning testimonies? As we continue along in the True Story Project, I have felt my faith being awakened in new ways as I read story after story of men and women who are called by God to take part in his mission in the world. The stories range from heroic to mundane, from scandalous to straight-up sinful. Though the nature of the battles they faced may look different, I am challenged and encouraged as I find myself among these characters. The complexity of relationships, the pull of sin, the persistent misunderstanding of God’s charac…and yet, the one constant character: a faithful God who has not ceased to work in the world that he loves for the whole of history.
One way that we can help bring this story to life is to listen to the stories of men and women in our communities who are wrestling to find their place in this unfolding drama of Scripture. As we open our ears to the ways that God is calling those around us by his love, our hearts and imaginations are stirred to do the same. So without further delay, here is Jessi’s story. Enjoy!
I first met Jessi this summer in a book club about The Anatomy of the Soul. Jessi let us know that she was a brand new Christian and was eager to understand what this new life in Christ meant for these areas of psychology, emotions and relationships. As the months went on, I have continued to get to know Jessi, hearing more about how God was shaping her. Her sincere thanks for God’s grace and fervent desire to see and grow always challenge and encourage me. I asked Jessi to share some specific ways that she is being shaped by The Story she is now a part of. Here is a sneak peak at our conversation:
Q: Can you share how reading along with The True Story Project has been forming your faith?
A: As a new believer, I wasn’t very familiar with the Bible when we started the True Story Project. I also didn’t have many Christian friends to discuss the Bible with. I started reading the Old Testament at a time in my journey when the Holy Spirit was making me more aware of my sin and convicting me to change some of my ways. Hearing God speak words about death to sinners had me fearing and questioning my decision to become a Christian. But I had been convicted by the Holy Spirit within me, and I knew there was no going back to my old life and way of thinking. I was left wondering how I would ever be able to live up to who God wanted me to be. I thought I would have to be perfect to make God love me. This created great anxiety in me. I found myself thinking: Did I even want to change? I know I’ll never be perfect. Will I just live in guilt?
I started attending the open Bible studies at church and just listened to the women discuss what we were reading. They obviously knew God much better than I because, even though all the scary things were happening in the Old Testament, they spoke of God’s love. We discussed his mercy and grace, the sacrifice he made for us, and his promises. We prayed for one another. I asked them to pray for my understanding of God’s love and his character. From then, I understood that I didn’t have to work to gain God’s love, but through understanding how much he loves me — the sacrifice he made so that I could live in right relationship with him — it makes me WANT to do all that I can to make him proud, and I know that all I have to do is repent and surrender. This understanding of his love gained through his Word and his Church has been such a blessing in my life. I am saved, and I just want to live all of my life all for Jesus! I love how God is revealing himself to me through his Word and his people, and I’m so grateful for the True Story Project and Redemption.
Q: You mentioned that you are excited to experience your first Christmas as a Christian. Can you share a little bit of how this Advent season is different for you this year?
A: As I see Christmas represented on TV, I now see how the meaning has been lost. But I’m learning that (Advent) is a time of excitement and anticipation. I’m trying to keep that sense. Jesus is coming! How cool is that?!
Q: You were at your current job as a school nutritionist before you became a Christian. How has learning about God’s story shaping your approach to your work?
A: Before, I used to ask, do people think this is a good enough job? I questioned if I should have a job that was more glamorous or where I could make more money. I was seeking significance through my work.
This summer, I also did a book club with Jim Mullins and John Crawford on Courage and Calling. Through that I began to see that God calls us to all sorts of jobs and that, if we aren’t doing work that society would deem as significant, it doesn’t mean we’re less than. I am now able to see my purpose and where my talents are needed and ways in which I can have an impact on people who rely on someone being dedicated in that position.
When I talk to Jessi, I can’t help but be amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit to reform our hearts and lives as we seek to live within his story along with our brothers and sisters. Be encouraged today, wherever you are, that God is inviting you to taste of his grace that is renewed with each new day!