I have prayed and questioned God today as pertaining to my former religious life that is buried and in the grave.
It is buried true, but there on that tomb is a testimony that The LORD wants me to share. He wills that I share portions of my former life in hopes to help others who may be in similar places.
God did tell me a long time ago, that He would take everything in my life and turn it around for good and He would use my testimony to help others.
As you read the absolute naked portions of my former life, please don’t judge me, but pray for me and others who read this, who are or were like I was.
Pray that The LORD gives you compassion to wounded souls like I was.
This isn’t a message for people who only want to get by or pretend. This message is for people who want to be everything God wants, but they go to the extreme and burn-out in their abilities, becoming religious.
This message isn’t about people who only want fire insurance from hell, or those who only want to do the bare minimum to get by.
I wondered how many of us have ever felt like we’re running in circles chasing our own tail?
How many of us spend enormous amounts of time, effort, and energy doing something for God, but we end up achieving nothing?
How many of us think we are entitled to so much more, but we end up wondering why we cannot get beyond whatever this is?
This process perplexed me and made me feel so vulnerable and weak and I didn’t understand why it kept happening.
This topic troubled me for a number of years, because I had wrong thinking and a wrong belief system.
It wasn’t until the many years of circling around that same mountain, defeated, that I got serious with God as to why this kept happening to me!
I wanted to know what I was doing wrong, and I really did want to know what I was believing, even if it cost me positions and relationships.
I was so upset and desperate that it was at this point when He began showing me the error of my belief system.
Being a go-getter for God and extremely disciplined, I went hard after God to the max for years, even when I ran off on my own accord for God!
However, I couldn’t understand why I ended up in the same place each year! I kept burning out and it affected me spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
I would hear people say, “I would rather burn-out for God than to just exist in obscurity.” Which was totally pride. And in loving people, we want to be totally admired and envied; we want people to love us and think we are great.
Being amongst the legalist extreme in religion, was more regarded than those who pretend and seem to just get by in their faith; even while we’re saying, we are having so much fun!
God never intended that we be fulfilled in life without Him, but He gave us a free will and free choice.
In legalism, we want to affect the world around us, when in actuality we are really driving those we love mad! I heard these things, “Why don’t you just enjoy your life?”
When I really thought about that, I was perplexed as I didn’t know how to enjoy my life as a legalist, because I had a reputation to keep up and I gave up my life to be this person!
And there were so many laws and demands to remain usable in that twisted world of religion.
I wanted to be a gospel peace maker among the numbers of brethren and especially among denominations. I preached unity and for people to get along with their differences.
I had a type A personality and based everything and the way I lived on how perfectly I could remain.
I thought at the time that I understood that Christ saved me and delivered me, but inside I saw myself as not good enough, so I had to keep up the standard of all those around me and do all the things required of me.
Even though I loved God, I didn’t really understand the basis of my salvation, and thought I had to keep up, then when I would burn-out, I would see God as a task master and unattainable unless I remain strong in my own power, because he only wanted the best and strongest, like Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest.
And to add to the mix, I expected others to seek God with the same fervor I had and I had a very judgmental spirit.
I was able to pull order out of disorder in all sorts of situations in religion. I was in control and I was needed — at least at the time. I did what needed to be done, but I was in a race with myself and I was miserable and I could feel each time like I was coming apart.
What is a type A personality?
Definition and meaning: “Type A personality: A temperament characterized by excessive ambition, aggression, competitiveness, drive, impatience, need for control, focus on quantity over quality and unrealistic sense of urgency. It is commonly associated with risk of coronary disease and other stress-related ailments.” © businessdictionary.com
When I would burn-out physically, I was so full of anxiety and fear because I felt I wasn’t strong enough to prevail. I felt so weak and out of it that I would not make it to Heaven, because I was not strong enough and didn’t have what it would take.
So many issues stemmed from that including a strong spirit of pride, arrogance, and judgmentalism I had. Any time I was weak, I condemned myself and beat myself down with self-hatred and self-loathing.
It would take me weeks to recover and I would hear things like grace and mercy and for a time I would believe it, that God accepted me as I was…… but once I was strong again, I would blow it off and go back to my flawed belief system.
Although I believed in the grace and mercy of God, I thought it was predicated on my behavior modification and lifestyle. I would begin to get a glimpse of the nature and character of God in those down times, but once I was strong again, I embraced my former belief system based on fear.
I have never seen anyone who was strong-armed to the altar through fear or torment, who has remained.
Fear doesn’t save people, love does. Love keeps us for we are kept by the power of God!
It is through God’s lovingkindness that He leads us to repentance. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power love, and a sound mind and perfect love cast out all fear for fear has torment.
I came to a place of sudden loss of three major happenings in my life all in the same time frame. I found myself suddenly, when whatever it was within me that gave me strength was depleted and gone!
Suddenly I broke down! Something within me broke and whatever it was that kept me strong, was suddenly gone and no matter how much I fasted and prayed, I could not get over this.
Something within me broke and I found I had no control over my life anymore. I had never felt so vulnerable. I asked for prayer from the Church and people fasted and prayed for me — all to no avail.
I felt I was blinded and did not know my way, led only about by people who then started hating on me, because I wasn’t the strong Sherry they knew.
Then I learned the Church I served in blasted me from the pulpit and told the others to stay away from me, because I was a false prophet! I was one of their ministers and had been under their authority for three years, totally involved in all portions of that ministry!
The Church and every friend I thought I had, judged me and abandoned me. I was left alone with no hope.
It felt like they took a sharp knife and stabbed me in the heart and twisted it. Something broke and was never the same again.
Like having a broken arm without getting it set in alignment, and it has never been the same and that person who was so strong, was no longer was there.
Part of me died never recovered. I was beyond exhaustion; total exhaustion and I cried all the time — but little did I know I was on my way to freedom!
In my pursuit of God after these experiences, I learned I had a fear of God that wasn’t according to knowledge, and it caused me to see everything through legalism and religion.
You see, their belief was I needed to be strong and keep on going, or I would not make it into heaven.
Everything was based on performance not the grace and mercy of God and His finished work. I saw God as an angry God towards humanity, and especially towards me!
After this experience, I could not pray and I felt like I had gone beyond the grace and mercy of God. I was existing, hurt, wounded, and heading for certain death — I thought.
But oh, The Blood of Jesus! Oh, the grace and mercy of God! God was answering my prayers that I wondered about as why I was continually going around in circles.
As you continue to freedom in Christ, don’t let man limit you, because they can’t keep you under their control.
It happens more than you know. I have had people abandon me just because I wasn’t allowed by God to conform to their agenda.
When you are released, you will be shocked at how much you were under control and the weight will fly off of you! You will feel it release!
I want you to know straight up, that my desire is to never offend, but I would much rather offend man than God.
People will try to strong-arm us to intimidate, force, control, and to keep us bound to their experience when God has so much more for you. You don’t need to apologize for being obedient to God!
God sets you free and who knows what He has planned for you!
You will be free, and may even have a major change into a different career field of ministry! It’s not over, you have just begun!
It isn’t a demotion, but a promotion into what is needed for each of us to function within The Body of Christ. What you have attained thus far in God isn’t taken away, for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” Romans 11:29 KJV.
This topic isn’t about people who just want to get by, or about people who pretend to be believers but who bear no fruit of the Spirit.
This topic is for the people who love God, but have been captives of legalism and religion, like me.
I was extreme with God and had never understood God’s grace or mercy, or Christ and His finished work on the cross.
“For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment,” James 2:13 KJV.
If you don’t know who you are, then people will tell you who you are and you will be whom they want you to be, instead of whom God wants you to be.
We must remember, those who compare themselves among themselves are not wise. So look into the mirror of God’s Word and be whom He wants you to be.
Religion is a return to bondage, for your righteousness is self-motivated by your behaviors.
Religion focuses on the flesh of man. Christianity focuses on the flesh of the finished work of Christ.
Legalism causes our heart to be hard. A legalist wants everyone to do it their way, or you are not good enough or they label you as not being a Christian.
It makes the religious group mad when you are not doing what they want, and follow all their rules, especially if God is still blessing you!
A legalist is very intolerant of anyone who doesn’t measure up to his or her standards.
More next time……..
In HIS Grace and Mercy,
~ Sherry Edwards Mackey