Messy Faith,  Personal and Spiritual Ramblings,  Recovering Perfectionist

“Leave it all behind…” – the moment I left legalism in my heart

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This post is part 26 in a blog series that I have entitled “the wilderness between legalism and grace,” in which I share how I came to realize that I had an incorrect view of God and self and how I became free of the system of legalism whereby I was trying to earn God’s favor. You can view all of the posts in the series here on the series landing page.


In my last two posts I have shared several moments from the PWOC International Conference 2012 that brought me to the point of being able to accept God’s grace for my life. The last day of the conference (Saturday) was a continuation and confirmation of everything that happened on during Kim’s session on our identity in Christ and the evening session where I let go of everything but God. Here is an excerpt from Saturday’s morning session:

Laura Story: He loves saving His kids. Not just that first Salvation that we think of when we think of the word “Salvation,” but He loves saving us from those pits of despair that we that we find ourselves in. Is that just me? He saved me from my faithlessness! He saved me from my selfishness…from my hopelessness. And there’s a prayer in the middle of this song, and I just love the honesty in the words and it just says, “Take me as you find me, with all my fears and failings, and fill my life again…” And if that’s a prayer you need this morning… It’s a prayer I need EVERY morning. Let’s sing this together: 

And so we sang the well-known song, Mighty To Save.

So take me as You find me
All my fears & failures
Fill my life again

I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

Surrendering all you have ever known and believed in is a scary thing. But it’s far less scary when you realize that a lot of times, everything you believed in wasn’t truly what God said. Sometimes man’s rules and minute interpretations have become the thing I have strived to follow, instead of following Christ and Him alone.

I went to another workshop after the morning session. This one was on rest and restoration. I was expecting a checklist. This is what I need to do spiritually to find rest. Instead I found NO doing. “You will never find rest and restoration apart from God!” It was said over and over and over. If you are tired, if you are empty…you need God and God alone. God above all. You don’t need a day at the spa. You don’t need to indulge yourself in chocolate. You don’t even need to be alone. You simply need Him.

Ouch. It was then that I realized that, while it may not be externally evident, my attitude over the last six years had been one of self-indulgence. I can’t please them. I can’t follow all of these rules, and I don’t even want to. Heck, I don’t even know if I can please God. I’m so exhausted. So tired of trying. So just screw it. I’ll do whatever I think makes sense for me and my life and I don’t care what anyone thinks about it.

Two deployments (and all that entails) and two years of motherhood while trying to please God all on my own, striving to be perfect and then indulging myself in pleasure when I fail…constantly weighed down by guilt. Some of it by sin. Some of it over not feeling like I’ll ever measure up to what God wants for my life because the lines between what He wants and what men wanted for me and expected of me got very blurred. It’s left me all so so tired. So empty. So dry. And I’ve been looking for rest and restoration in all the wrong places.

“You will never find rest and restoration apart from God!” 
Sandy Troutman

I was so overwhelmed with everything God was doing . After the last workshop I decided to skip our regional meeting and take a nap. To rest. Not just my body, but my mind and my soul. I woke up refreshed. Then I went to the evening general session, where this song was expressed through dance and sign language:

Leave it all behind, leave it all behind
Leave it all behind, leave it all behind

I have what you need but you keep on searchin’
I’ve done all the work but you keep on workin
When you’re runnin’ on empty and you can’t find the remedy
Just come to the well

You can spend your whole life chasin’ what’s missin’
But that empty inside, it just ain’t gonna listen
When nothin’ can satisfy and the world leaves you high and dry
Just come to the well

So bring me your heart, no matter how broken
Just come as you are when your last prayer is spoken
Just rest in my arms a while, you’ll feel the change, my child
When you come to the well

And all who thirst will thirst no more
And all who search will find what their souls long for
The world will try but it can never fill
So leave it all behind and come to the Well

And now that you’re full of love beyond measure
Your joy’s gonna flow like a stream in the desert
Soon all the world will see that livin’ water is found in me
‘Cause you came to the well

And all who thirst will thirst no more
And all who search will find what their souls long for
The world will try but it can never fill
So leave it all behind and come to the well

Leave it all behind,
(Your pursuit of perfection)
leave it all behind
(Your fear of rejection)
Leave it all behind,
(Your temporary pleasures)
leave it all behind
(All of your earthly treasures)
Leave it all behind,
(Dried up, empty religion)
leave it all behind
(Rusty chains of addiction)
leave it all behind
(All the guilt that weighs you down)
leave it all behind
And come to the well

Something had been missing in my life for a long time. And I had blamed legalism. I’ve blamed the false accusations and the hurts. And I’ve even blamed God. Where I have come from had become so distasteful that I could only see God through those lenses of legalism. And I didn’t like what I saw. As much as I still wanted God in my life, I lumped Him in with all of the people who had hurt me. But God has shown me that He is so much bigger than all of that. I’ve been searching. Looking for Him elsewhere. In my own goodness. In other people. In PWOC. In other churches.

But the truth is that God cannot be found in a faction. Or a denomination. It doesn’t matter if I had remained an Independent Fundamental Baptist forever or if I had joined the most charismatic, seeker-sensitive, liberal church on the face of the earth. If I am looking ANYWHERE but to God and His Word, and that alone, then I will never be satisfied. I will never find true love and acceptance from mankind. The world, even the Christian world, will always leave me thirsty and tired.

And so I left it all behind. All the working for His favor. All the seeking for answers. All the desiring of the acceptance of people. Because He already has what I need. And He always has.

I’m came to Him very broken. Very hurt. Very confused. Very empty. But I prayed that He would fill me with His love and His grace and His forgiveness. I trusted Him and Him alone to keep my paths straight. I trusted Him with my life…praying that He will fill it with love and joy again. So that my joy could flow like streams in the desert. So that others may know that Living Water is found in HIM and HIM ALONE.

I believe that God has answered those prayers beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. I didn’t know how letting go of all else but him and leaving everything behind would so drastically change my life, but it has. And while I haven’t been perfect, I think that that joy has been evident over the last nine months. I think that this series is that outpouring “so that others may know” that I prayed for.

This series is not over – I have a few more posts to wrap up and draw some conclusions to everything I have written – but the story part of it ends here. I exited the wilderness and moved into the promised land of grace, never to look back.

I’ve said it before – your story won’t look like mine. God has his own things to teach you, his own people to help you, his own songs and symbols to give you. Look to God for the direction and guidance you need to exit the wilderness and accept his grace.

And don’t be afraid to “leave it all behind.”

leave it all behind {the wilderness between #legalism and #grace part 26}

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To view all the posts in this blog series, visit the landing page.

Next post, part 27: Accepting grace

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