Third Place – Rachel Walker
“For it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Through my journey of believing in Jesus Christ, God has revealed His love and truth slowly to me, each part at exactly the right moment. As God is teaching me about humility presently, my understanding of His grace has been expanding. Through learning about grace, I have learnt about how much I need to lean on God and His Holy Spirit, since I can do nothing without Him. Grace is a gift that we cannot earn and through learning about this gift, a heart yearning to worship and to adore God has been growing within me. Through worship, God has drawn me close to His heart and has brought me peace through fear of loss and has enabled me to pour out the love that I have received from Him on others.
I have struggled with going to God when I’ve found myself sinning or having negative emotions The misconception that I had was that I couldn’t go to God before making myself right, fixing myself, or becoming “holy”. Unfortunately, by thinking this, I was letting the guilt of the sin separate me from God even more. I missed a crucial part of my faith: the grace of God. Grace is the unmerited gift from God called salvation and forgiveness. We absolutely cannot earn our way into heaven and we cannot fix our relationship with God on our own. That is the purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice. It’s humbling, but all we can do is believe in him and receive this gift. Now, after my epiphany, all I want to do is praise God! Jesus paid the price that we deserve so that we could live the life that only He deserves. How good is God! When I make mistakes now, I can run to the Father and receive His unlimited grace.
Running to God in praise and in repentance has allowed me to draw close to His heart, which is full of beauty, love, and mercy. Getting to know Jesus and the Holy Spirit makes me love God more and the more I love God, the more I want to get to know Him. It’s been a few years that my dad has had cancer, and it has been the scariest time of my life. It has also been the most maturing time of my life. Through this hardship of fearing the loss of someone I love so much, God has increased my ability to love. m Because of my reliance on God to get through this, I have been able to appreciate the suffering because it has matured me and brought me into a deeper level of compassion and understanding of God’s love. God, too, watched someone He loved die out of love for us.
Knowing God and receiving His love, has enabled me to love Him and others. When I’m reading the Bible or listening to God’s voice, I become in tune with His heart and His plans. When my spirit is engaged with the Spirit of God, I can see those that I normally would dislike with love. I see each classmate of mine as a child who was intricately created by my loving Father and who Jesus died to save. I am by no means perfect (remember that’s the point of grace), but through intimacy with God I am beginning to learn how to love others and put that love before my own desires and thoughts. By asking God to help me desire Him and His kingdom (“ask and you shall receive”), I’ve started to notice my heart transforming into a heart that wants what its creator wants and that loves God.
Drawing close to the heart of God by the truth of His grace has been a major revelation that has deepened my love for God and has grounded my faith. The love that I have for God can never amount to His love for me but I know that I love Him more than I did a year ago. It’s small, but I think that that is the journey of faith. The journey is wonderful; full of love, adventure, peace beyond understanding, and purpose. And with every step that I take, however small, I’m a step closer to Him.