His Banner Over Me is Love

We all have a past, a history with God. At one point, you received salvation and entered into relationship with God. Growing up in church, I didn’t think I had a story. I had known about God since I could talk. I didn’t have this “rebellious” season of rejecting God, living in sin, and then, having a “come to Jesus” moment. For a long time, I didn’t think that God thought that much about me because I had never had what I considered to be a radical salvation moment. I didn’t have a testimony that said, “and then at my darkest, Jesus showed up.”

My understanding of having a story or testimony wasn’t rooted in relationship, but rather, it was rooted in how much I sinned or how much shame I was experiencing. As long as I wasn’t on drugs or having sex, I didn’t think God had much to say about me. I didn’t need saving because from my perspective, I was doing pretty good. God was either saving or condemning.
Now if you ask me if I have a story, I would tell you “big time.” My college years were filled with a lot of trying to do things my way. But that’s not why I have a testimony. It’s because at one point I was living in fear of God, and then, I started living in relationship. When I decided that I wanted my life to look different, I thought I would simply repent and everything would change. So that’s what I did...but nothing changed. The biggest misconception I had about "turning my life around" was that once I did, I thought I would no longer crave the former things. I thought that if I truly loved Jesus, I wouldn't want to sin the way I had been. The problem with that mentality was that every time I did fall short, which was a lot, I felt like something was wrong with me. I saw God as an angry judge, keeping a record of all my wrongs, instead of a kind and loving father.

Living in fear of God did nothing but drive me further into the things I was trying to be free from. It’s a vicious cycle that we were never made to live in. Jesus didn’t come to reveal that God cares about our actions. The Jewish people already knew that. The religious leaders of the day were expert rule followers, but there wasn’t deep, intimate relationship with God. Jesus revealed that God is our Father, one who lovingly corrects, not ruthlessly condemns. And that changes everything. We are no longer held to a standard of perfection, but a standard of grace.

As I write this, I simply want to offer an invitation to anyone who has ever felt like God only cares about your performance. You are not the exception to God’s loving kindness and mercy. Maybe it’s time you stop trying to save yourself by performing your way into God’s grace. Maybe it’s time that you start believing that God loves you for you, that he has something to say about your life whether you’re struggling with sin or living in freedom.

Instead of striving for perfection, strive for authenticity. God doesn’t want us to hide the worst parts of ourselves from him. When we share our hearts - our struggles, the lies we’re believing, the thoughts we dare not say out loud - we get to grow in intimacy with our Father. He has something to say about those things, but it’s better than you think. It’s not a record of all the times you’ve messed up, it’s an invitation to know him more, thus leading you into freedom.
"I belong to my beloved and his desire is for me." - Song of Solomon 7:10

God’s desire is for you. He wants your heart. That means that your story is not the sin or shame you’ve experienced. Your story is all the times you have experienced freedom that comes from knowing God. It’s all the times you’ve stepped into intimacy with Jesus, all the times He has offered you truth for the lies you were believing, and all the times He has delighted in your presence. His banner over you is love - that is your story.

Author | Emily Baker





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