I had only been to a church a handful of times in my life. I knew the name of Jesus from seeing His name on signs; advertisements and occasionally when other people would talk about Him. That is all that I knew of Him.
Until, I had an encounter with His love.
It was then I realized that I was loved unconditionally, and that I was a part of a greater story. Sometime, I will share details about that encounter, the day that my life was changed… Forever.
I began attending church, and was connected to others in a Bible study. I watched as they flipped to the precise verse we were studying, just as I looked in the index of my Bible to try to find the right page. As I was still shuffling pages, they would move on. I would nod my head and pretend to understand what they were talking about.
As we completed our evenings together, someone would say, “Who wants to end us in prayer?” I would immediately look to the ground and avoid eye contact with anyone. I silently started my own prayer with, “Dear God, please don’t let them call on me.”
If we are honest, I will bet that we all have done that at some point in our lives.
I had not grown up in a Christian home, and in my eyes, it seemed like I was surrounded by these amazing, mature people who were born with Bible verses on their diapers.
Wanting what they had, I kept pretending.
I would look to see if their Bible was opened to the front, middle or back of the spine. Looking down as if I was following along in the passage while I was looking at a totally different one.
Saying, “Amen”, under my breath while the whole time, I was hoping that they wouldn’t ask me anything. Instead of being honest with where I was, I started to fake it. Doesn’t it sound like Middle School all over again?
For me, I felt like an outsider in prayer groups and Bible studies.
What is it for you? Have you ever been tempted to pretend or put on a mask in order to appear like you had it all together, or that you were “one” of the group?
We can pretend for a while, but it is only a matter of time before the pretending turns into lies that we believe.
For me, the lies that permeated my mind and my heart said I did not fit in. Because of my past or the fact that I didn’t come from a Christian home, I was never going to know enough or be enough for Jesus. I was being held captive by a repetitive thought in my head that echoed…
“YOU ARE AN IMPOSTER, YOU DON’T BELONG HERE.”
I was trapped in a personal prison with bars that were constructed by lies.
When you are in a prison you can only see the people in front of you. The people who pass by your line of sight. Inevitably, I began to compare myself to others.
Don’t we all do that to some degree?
- I don’t know as much about the Bible as she does.
- I wasn’t raised with a foundation of faith like he was.
- Will I ever be the kind of mom that she is?
- Maybe I AM disqualified because my past isn’t squeaky clean like his.
- If I am an imposter, maybe I didn’t belong with other believers.
I was beginning to believe the false accusations that a person like me, could never be enough for Jesus.
I felt like a FRAUD and began to believe that God had a plan for everyone else BUT ME.
These lies became bars in a prison I couldn’t get out of.
Can you relate? Have you ever struggled with false accusations that holds you captive in a proverbial prison?
Whatever they are for you, they don’t define you. I think it is safe to say we have all been in a prison of our own at times.
I want to encourage you that this is not the beginning or the end of your story.
God is orchestrating things in your life and your story continues on the other side of your bars.
Over and over in the Bible, we see God orchestrating things behind the scenes for His people. Moments where we think that someone’s story will end in defeat then suddenly, God does something amazing.
We see this in the life of Joseph. Within just a few chapters in Genesis, we see Joseph go from being highly favored by his father, to being thrown into a pit by his jealous brothers. Joseph was then sold, promoted, falsely accused, and thrown into prison. Whoa, what a ride!
Just like us, there was a larger story being told and Josephs story did not end in prison, his story continued and he wound up in a high position in the palace. Check out Genesis Chapters 37-45, the story that God tells through Joseph’s life is incredible.
Many times in those chapters, the Bible tells us, “The Lord was WITH Joseph”.
If you are in the pit, whether that looks like being accused of being an imposter within your own mind or feeling like you are not enough, know that God is with you.
He will call your past, present, and future to be used for His glory.
Your story started long before you. We don’t always know what the next chapter is going to look like but we can trust the author. The pits and prisons can’t take that away from you.
The palaces of our future are built through the pits and prisons of our past.
God uses it all. Trust in that. When I was struggling feeling like an imposter, I was listening to how I felt and not what I knew.
I FELT LIKE I was an imposter,
WHAT I KNEW was that I belonged to the God of the universe, that I was accepted and loved unconditionally. My life was valuable and was bought with a price.
The same is true for you.
Sometimes it helps to step back and analyze what we feel versus what is really true. Don’t get me wrong; there is truth in your feelings. Yet there is a larger truth that drives our lives.
Behind my prison bars, I could only see what passed by me. What I couldn’t see was that God held the keys to release me from my prison.
When I realized that I was connected to something bigger than myself the lie that I was an imposter, silenced. God was WITH me every moment of the way and although I didn’t know it at the time, He had a larger plan that He was orchestrating.
That same person, who believed the lie that she didn’t belong in church, has now been a pastor for 7 years. I have had the privilege to walk with many of you through your pits and prisons, and we have also celebrated together in the palace.
God is with you, whether you are in a pit, prison or living it up in the palace…
May you know that God is with you and trust that He has been faithfully going before you working out the details of the bigger story that He is telling through your life.
What are the lies that you believe? What are your bars made of?
Together, let’s RECLAIM any lie that echoes in our mind that underminds the awe and wonder of God in the midst of our story.