Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello Again.

It seems that I've neglected this little place. This tiny blog. My last post was not even originally intended for this medium. And it was clearly written in haste (but hey, I got an A on that paper so not all is lost, right?!) ;)

These many months that have passed have been interesting ones to say the least. At least, they were interesting to me. After all, it is my life. I do not wish to drone on and on about this thing or that thing. But what I do wish is to share my story of grace. Of God's perfect, unmatchable love for me. The way He continuously pursues me with an everlasting, grace- and mercy-filled love blows me away. Because this is one young woman who knows she does not deserve a single drop of His love and mercy. And especially not her salvation. The salvation she received nine years ago this July.

This year ended very differently for me than I expected that it would one year ago. One year ago, my life was in a very, very different place. And I thought it would stay there. I thought so many things that cold January day.

I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I had found the answers. I thought I could do it all. In God's strength, of course (I told myself). But God knew differently. And He knew (and knows) best. And I am so glad so thankful that He does.

One year ago, my life was in forward motion. Things were picking up speed. I chose a career path. I "had a future." I was figuring it all out.

And then everything changed.

What was supposed to be part of my future became part of my past. What I thought was to be my career crumbled before my eyes. Even my summer--the summer during which I was supposed to do all these incredible things--even that kinda blew up in my face.

But I would absolutely be lying if I said that this was a terrible year. This was a beautiful year. Every moment was a gift from God. Every smile was treasured by Him and every tear was held in His loving hands. He carried me through the worst days and rejoiced with me on my best days.

And every time I tried to run from Him, He went after me.

And that, my friends, is what I see when I look back to 2013. My amazing, incredible, eternal, holy God pursuing an awful rotten sinner named Autumn Rose Johnson. The woman who does not deserve His love, mercy, and grace. The woman who should be left desolate, paying for the sins she commits every single day.

But I am not. Because Someone paid the debt for the sin of every single person who has, does, and ever will live. And that Someone is Jesus.

Because of Him, I live. And I saw so much of His grace and love this year.

Friends, I can direct you to specific days, dead-on locations where I said no to God and yes to myself. I can show you the sidewalks I stood on, the Starbucks I huddled in, the rooms I walked into, the phone calls, the decisions, the words, everything. I can remember so many moments where I went with what I wanted for my life instead of what God had waiting for my life.

And you know the incredible thing?!

Even now, He is using those moments for my future. For my life. My story is written and those moments, those days, are in it. He is using them in His perfect plan for my life.

I posted on Instagram today yesterday that this year was the "Year of To-Do Lists" for me. And in a way it is. (You should see the overarching to-do list I wrote for myself. My pencil wouldn't stop!) But in addition to the "To-Do," I also wrote a "To Be." Who I want "To Be" in 2014. It's not a list. Merely a statement.

The sum of that statement is that this year (and for years to come) I want to be a young woman fully and completely surrendered to God. Wherever He takes me in life, I want my answer to His calling to always be a resounding YES.

I know already that I will fail at keeping this resolution over and over and over again. But that is the beauty of God's grace. Every time I fail, and every time I come back, my sins will have already been forgiven. God will be waiting for me with open arms. He will take me back. Every time.

I know that each moment I keep this resolution will be only by His grace and that I can only do it in His strength.

And I know He will never break the promises He gives in the Scriptures. He will never leave me alone and will never stop loving me.

How do I know?

I can look back at 2013 (and all the other years of my life).

I can see my failures.

I can see the times I said no to God.

I can see the times I wanted my own way.

I can see the times I did my own thing.

I can see the times I relied on my own strength.

And each and every time, God was there. In every moment, every incident, everything, God was there. When my heart was overwhelmed, He led me to a rock that is higher than I. When I was broken, He made me whole. When I couldn't go any further, He picked me up and carried me through. When I failed, He did not. When I ran, He came after me. When I asked for forgiveness, He showed me that it was already covered. When I needed grace, He gave it (bee-tee-dubs: that's like, always. constantly).

My life is His. I surrender all. And though I don't know my future, although at this moment all I know about tomorrow is that by God's grace I will wake up, I know one thing for certain. God is faithful and He will see me through every moment. Through every moment--wonderful, painful, whatever it is--He will be with me. Even when I am failing Him.

And I can't imagine a life any sweeter. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
all to him I freely give; 
I will ever love and trust him, 
in his presence daily live. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
humbly at his feet I bow, 
worldly pleasures all forsaken; 
take me, Jesus, take me now. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
make me, Savior, wholly thine; 
fill me with thy love and power; 
truly know that thou art mine. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
Lord, I give myself to thee; 
fill me with thy love and power; 
let thy blessing fall on me. 

All to Jesus I surrender; 
now I feel the sacred flame. 
O the joy of full salvation! 
Glory, glory, to his name!

"I Surrender All"
by Judson W. VanDeter

Written after he gave up his career as an artist to serve the Lord as an evangelist.
The title of this hymn is inscribed on his gravestone. 
God used this song numerous times this year to bring me back to Him. 
And I am forever grateful. 

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