What Is Salvation? (part 2–man and man)

Wow! I have to start this blog post off with an apology. It seems like it has been forever since I have posted. Between soccer workouts and practice, school, studying for midterms, sports reporting for WAFB, preparing to move, bible studies, church, motivational speaking engagements, community service, and everything else that comes along with busy, everyday life, time has slipped by so quickly! So I am so sorry it’s been over a week…but let’s continue to dig into this awesome lesson. This part coming up is the BEST! J-E-S-U-S is about to light the place up! ūüôā

Alright, so in the last post we talked about the original sin. ¬†The very first sin that the very first man ever committed. Adam. And because of Adam’s sin, sin was born in man. Humans became sinful creatures. ¬†Every person born after that was born into sin and confined to a sinful human nature. ¬†Because of that one man’s sin, the one man was can all be traced back to, we are all impure and unrighteous. ¬†No way around it.

We then went on to talk about the rules God laid out for humans after that. ¬†The Old Testament of the Bible lays out all of these rules. ¬†They are extensive, difficult, and overwhelming. ¬†But God told the people who if they wanted a chance in heaven, they had to abide by these rules. ¬†Long story short, nobody could do it. Every single person failed. ¬†Because, as humans, we are sinful creatures, it is literally IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to live a perfect life. ¬†We all sin. And back then, they all sinned. ¬†As hard as they tried, they couldn’t follow all of the rules. So God fulfilled a promise that the earliest prophets had expressed in the Old Testament. He blessed us with a Messiah–a Savior. Here comes Jesus…

God recognized that it was impossible for any human being to live by the rules of the Old Testament. ¬†But He loves us, unconditionally. We are His creation. ¬†He grants us free will to choose, but He doesn’t want to see us all damned. He yearns to spend eternity with us. ¬†He yearns for us to come home to Him. ¬†So, He did the most amazing thing ever. ¬†He sent His Son, a human being, to Earth. Jesus Christ. Why? So that we could be shown forgiveness, taught, and saved. So that we could have an outlet to heaven and stand a chance of spending eternity with Him. Stick with me here and open your mind to understand this concept. Romans 5:12-19 explains exactly why a HUMAN BEING had to be born to teach us…

It says, “For just as through the DISOBEDIENCE of one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the OBEDIENCE of one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.”

BOOM! What a simple and awesome explanation. ¬†Do you understand? Adam was a HUMAN BEING that made a conscious choice to sin and to bring sin into the world. ¬†Because of that sin, Adam opened the door to Hell. He put all of us at risk. ¬†BUT, in order to negate Adam’s sin, God sent Jesus Christ, another HUMAN BEING to make a conscious choice to live perfectly and purely. And in doing so, He brought salvation into the world. Jesus opened the door to heaven. He showed us God’s grace. ¬†Since a human brought sin into the world, a human had to bring salvation into the world. ¬†That’s the only way we, as people, could be saved. Sure, God could have made it way easier. ¬†If He wanted, He could have started the world all over. ¬†He could have destroyed sin before it even existed. He could have cut us some slack and let us all into heaven anyways. God can literally do ANYTHING. ¬†But He wanted to grant us freedom. ¬†He wanted to give us the right to choose. ¬†He wanted us to have the option and to be drawn closer to His truth by recognizing both sides of things. ¬†He wanted us to have FAITH. Ah, so awesome.

So we see that Jesus Christ was the only way. Since sin was brought into the world by a man, God’s grace had to be shown to the world by a man. That was the only way we would be able to understand it all, and to be saved. We had to be taught by another human being. Wow. Okay, so what’s the big deal with Jesus? What did this man actually do? How did His actions grant us “salvation?”

(I promise I will post again ASAP!…This is the best part, so check back in soon!)

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My Story (part 15)

“Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20

Even though I was not at the pinnacle of my game due to the time spent in recovery from the accident and the immediacy of the invitation to camp, I was still able to have a fantastic showing with the National Team and was provided a platform to continue my discipleship.

The next portion of my testimony will be vague, because it is a topic that I want to climb much deeper into later during the year. A topic I feel will be most beneficial for younger adults and friends around my age. ¬†However, I want to include a tag to this relationship within my story, because it provided more guidance, strength, and encouragement than any I have come across before. And it also plays a part in why I have taken on the challenge of remaining “Kissless ’till Next Christmas”.

A spiritual mentor of mine once taught me a lesson that I will carry with me for all of my days. He informed me that: a woman should never pursue a man. A woman should pursue a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. In turn, Christ will then inspire the man, constructed perfectly for her, to pursue her heart.  And in doing so, the man will be drawn closer to God as well.

It seems clich√© to say that as soon as you stop looking to find someone, someone comes along. However, that was precisely what happened to me half a year after my accident. ¬†At the same time that God was rewarding me with the splendor of athletic progress, he also sent a man into my life whom I will respect and cherish forever. A man I was not looking for. A man I did not plan on finding. But a man who walked so humbly into my life, that I couldn’t help but take notice.

I met Joey when I was sharing my testimony at a FCA in Louisiana. An excellent musician, he was there leading praise and worship for the group. ¬†The minute I met him, I was entranced. He was my complete opposite. Shy, reserved, a man of few words. He was not my “type”, not my taste. But I was mesmerized. There was something different about him. ¬†Something I couldn’t put my finger on. His eyes told a story of his purpose. He was unfazed by the standards of our society. Unamused by the earthly manifold. He was living for One–and it shined through him.

Quite commonly known, 1 Corinthians 15:13 instructs us, “Do not be mislead. Bad company corrupts good character.” In turn, there are countless other verses in the Bible that assure us of the inverse. Assure us that, in surrounding ourselves with the right people and those in pursuit of Truth, our hearts can be nurtured and our spirits can grow.

Over the course of the next 6 months, Joey and I journeyed through the most Christ-centered relationship that I have ever known.  It was beautiful. It was simple. It was pure, and it was healthy. It was a relationship of purpose and a relationship of love. Love for one another, but above all else, love for our King.  Each pursuing Christ on our own separate walks, we were able to encourage one another, challenge one another, and inspire one another to grow.  Joey was a man of conviction. He was exceptional. A man who believes every single word in the pages of the Bible and applies them, first and foremost, in every single thing he does in his life. He was a man that had a past, like many, but a man that had a future. A future with our King.

Being surrounded in the company of such conviction and strength taught me more about our Lord than any bible study lesson or church service ever had before.  Because I was not simply sitting and listening to words, I was observing a man living them out to the best of his ability. Stumbling and slipping at times, but picking himself back up and continuing his journey to Christ. He was like a horse with blinders on. He had one focus, and that focus was salvation. That focus was our King. All else in his life fell perfectly into place, because he recognized true importance and invested his whole heart into it.

You may be wondering, why then, I ended my relationship with Joey–as swiftly and as bluntly as the turning of a page. ¬†But the answer to that lies in my current calling. The answer to that can only be described in feeling. A feeling God placed on my heart and a mission He desired that I fulfill. A mission that would impact so many more than just myself…

(to be continued)

My Story (part 14)

“The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands, He rewarded me…” Psalms 18:20

It would be foolish to believe that the moment any one of us accepts Jesus Christ into our hearts, that Satan steps back, counts his losses, and moves on to torment another. ¬†That is far from the truth. ¬†You see, as I said before, Satan is bitter. Resentful. And keen. ¬†Individuals in pursuit of a closer relationship with Christ are not exempt from hardship or suffering or misfortune–in fact, they are often targeted. Tested. Tempted. Satan continues to wage war and continues to tease. ¬†The difference? This time, those who have accepted Christ into their hearts enter battle with a new army surrounding. ¬†An army so extensive in number, that the ranks flood the battlefield like a sea of unyielding power. With the strength of a King on their side and the love of a gentle Father picking them up when they are knocked down. ¬†With the confidence of a warrior fighting for the purpose of good–fighting for the purpose of grace–fighting for the purpose of salvation. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather give control to the King of all Kings and fight for His cause. I would enter battle any day of the week knowing I am surrounded by that kind of strength.

Recovery from my accident was not quick, nor easy. ¬†Physically, my body took a great deal of time to heal. ¬†I had to take “incompletes” in my courses and remain home in Georgia, bound to a bed, for close to two months. ¬†In that time, there was a great deal of physical pain. Complications to my condition put me back in and out of the hospital, and the mending of my¬†broken bones was often nauseating and ¬†debilitating. ¬†Most severely, the bruising to my brain left me unable to put together complete sentences. Unable to articulate my thoughts and feelings into the proper words. Unable to speak without the handicap of a stutter.

However, the physical pain and the repercussions of my injuries were futile and petty. ¬†For my heart was strong–surrounded by an impenetrable armor and overflowing with strength and grace. ¬†I was like a young school girl enamored by a new love. I was captivated by my God and hungry to grow in my faith. ¬†Hungry to grow in the Word. Hungry to learn more, do more, and feel more. ¬†Hungry to be His priestess and share of His light and His power.

Returning to school for Spring of 2010, I was mending, but still  physically handicapped.  I entered into extensive physical and neurological rehabilitation.  Though I was suffering from sever post-concussive syndrome and still walking around in a fog, I was able to complete my finals from the previous semester and stay on track with my courses in the new year.  After close to 6 months of recovery and 6 months of walking hand-in-hand with my King, I was finally cleared by the neurologist and back in functioning form.  I had been purged of my stutter and only felt remnants of the after-effects from my injuries.  (Still to this day I have some short-term memory issues, but I know I will be healed of that, too, in time).  I had worked, relentlessly, with the strength of my King, to get my body back into playing form and to build myself, as an athlete, back up from my broken state.

I find it enthralling to sit back and see the works of our God. We serve a God with an unbelievable sense of timing. And an unbelievable sense of humor. ¬†A day doesn’t pass where I don’t laugh at His splendor. He shows himself in the most terrific manners. ¬†It was not even a week after I was finally cleared by my neurologist that my phone rang. ¬†Confused by the unidentified number, I hesitantly answered and sat on the phone, in a state of shock, for close to 10 minutes. ¬†When the individual on the other line hung up, I dropped my phone, leaned back in the chair in the middle of Middleton Library, threw my hands up towards the heavens and simply laughed. ¬†Laughed and felt His grace fall like rain. ¬†The individual on the other line was a representative from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. I had just been invited to compete with the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team in Portland for a week. What a fantastic sense of timing our Lord has… ūüôā

(to be continued)

My Story (part 10)

“A righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” Psalms 34:19

No wound heals quickly. No gash is mended by freshly born skin as swiftly as we all would like.  Every scrape, cut, and burn scabs.  And many times, we find ourselves frustrated when, in our anxious movement after the pain has subsided, we tear those scabs wide open again. In our haste, we are again exposed to the slicing pain we first felt. But given time, and care and patience, those wounds scab again and eventually scar.  Allowing us to be sewn like new, but always leaving behind a mark of our misfortune.  A reminder of the pain we endured. A reminder of the lessons we learned.

Taking a stand against the spiritual warfare that was ripping me apart, I found myself scabbed. ¬†I was tender and uncomfortable and often very vulnerable, but I was beginning to heal. ¬†In the time that I was regaining strength, I was often too anxious. Often naive. I often mistook minor progress for complete redemption and, in turn, fell back into temptation and tore open those scabs, yet again. Re-exposing myself to the pain that had overwhelmed me before. Re-exposing myself to the fear. I was slowly rebuilding my strength, but Satan was not going to let me go without a fight…

If there is one thing I have learned through my athletics and my adversities, it is that this society tells us that everything must be immediate–everything must be done at speed. Fast communication. Fast food. Fast schedules. Fast progress. Fast relationships. Speed, speed, speed. What our world takes for granted is that things of true value, things of importance, take time. There are no shortcuts or quick-fixes. No miracle drugs or instant solutions. ¬†Things of purpose are developed and strengthened gradually. (But again, that is another topic for another blog post for another day.)

As I was slowly gaining strength, Satan was quickly gaining fury. ¬†As I began to deny him, he began to grow angry. I was not walking, yet, arm-in-arm again with my King, but I was trying to crawl from my captor. Trying to steal away in the night when Satan wouldn’t notice or see me leave. But he is keen, he is sharp–he is resentful. And he did notice. He was going to try anything to keep me captive. Anything to handicap my progress. Anything to keep me in his sinful snare.

I find it funny, at times, to sit back and look at the works of our God. To sit back and watch, how desperately, Satan tries to wage an un-winnable war. To sit back and watch the grace that God shows to those who seek Him. It’s amusing, truly. Amusing to watch the futile attempts the Devil makes. Painful, but amusing.

It was November 24th that Satan made his boldest effort to stop my progress, once and for all. Nearing the one-year anniversary of my Dad’s death, I was making headway. I was beginning to heal and beginning to seek my King’s face once again. ¬†God was forgiving. Overjoyed. Like a mother welcoming home her son from the war, my God was genuinely delighted–welcoming me back with open arms.

It had been a long day in Baton Rouge. The semester was winding down and preparations for our finals exams were underway. ¬†The soccer season had just come to a close and it was time to take a brief break for Thanksgiving. A break I so desperately needed. An opportunity to see my beautiful mom. An opportunity to wrap my arms around my loving sister. Two women that had worked so hard and so relentlessly throughout the year to pick up the pieces of my dad’s mess. To reorganize our lives and save our family from destruction. (I could write a book about the bravery and work ethic of my mom and my sister in the months following my dad’s disappearance, but that book would be colossal in size, and it is a story still being written…)

My day had been filled with distraction after distraction…task after task that arose and further hampered by departure home. ¬†I was going to drive back to Georgia. An 8 hour drive. A drive I had made so many times before. And I was anxious. Eager…eager to leave that day. Eager to leave that moment.

By the time I finally finished everything I had to do and hit the road, it was nearing 5 p.m. When I pulled onto the interstate, one thing became very apparent–I was not the only one eager to head home that day. In fact, the entire population of Baton Rouge seemed to have their cars parked on the freeway.

After two hours, I had moved roughly 2 miles. ¬†The traffic finally broke free and cars poured from the deadlock like salmon excitedly swimming up-stream. So I drove. And drove. And drove. I watched the hours click by on my car stereo clock and I felt fatigue setting in. Finally, I stopped for gas and saw a sign that indicated I was 100 miles from Atlanta. So close! Finally. I was rejuvenated in spirit and ramped back onto the interstate for the final leg of my journey. Little did I know, Satan had other plans. It was about to become a VERY long night…

(to be continued)

My Story (part 9)

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the Truth with your neighbor, for we are all members of one another” Ephesians 4:25

In my attempt to balance the two powers fighting within my heart, I became something so dangerous, so counterproductive, so misguided, that I left imprints of impurity and confusion along my course.  In my attempt to balance the two powers overwhelming me, I became a false witness.

For those unfamiliar, a false witness is a person who deliberately gives false testimony, or lies. ¬†In a Christian sense, a person who proclaims to know God and speaks of His Truth, but their actions reflect the complete opposite. ¬†Essentially, someone who “talks the talk”, but does not “walk the walk”. The 10 Commandments, in the simplest of terms, are a list of moral standards that Christians strive to live by–a list of the most important, most essential rules. ¬†The Ninth Commandment in the series is simple, direct, and powerful…”Thou shalt not bear false witness…”

In my attempt to control my own life, I was breaking one of the 10 most important rules. On a topic of the utmost importance, I was saying one thing and doing another, likely leaving the individuals I crossed paths with confused and bewildered. Likely leaving individuals, who had the opportunity to see the light of Christ through me, exposed to the twisted maze of Satan’s games.

It’s important for me to share something at this moment. Important for me to break from my story for a minute and humble myself to you. So please read these words with care and with sincerity. Please know that what I say, I truly mean from the deepest caverns of my heart…

To those I affected along my dark journey, I am deeply and truly sorry. ¬†For those I confused, for those I mistreated, for those I neglected…I am so sorry. ¬†I offer up my self, offer up my pride. Whether you felt the repercussions then or have felt them in any way since, I can’t apologize deeply enough. ¬†For the boys I gave pieces of myself to along the way, I’m sorry you weren’t able to see Truth through me. I’m sorry if I confused you, and sorry if I took anything from your heart, as well. I’m sorry I was a false witness and I can only pray, that from this day on, you see what God is doing through me. And you know that what you saw then was not real and was not pure. ¬†What you saw then was not God.

I digress again, back to the fall of 2009.  My sophomore soccer season was not easy without my dad.  Still hosting a battle of epic proportions in my heart, stepping onto the soccer field without my biggest fan in the stands was emotional. Exhausting. Trying.  But the sport that had welded my father and I so tightly together for so many years proved to be a cathartic release. It was an escape that my heart needed. An escape that came at just the right time.

I was on a crash-course for destruction prior to stepping back onto that field. ¬†And though it was an extremely slow and gradual process, as the season progressed and each game slid by, I could feel a layer of the numbness slowly peeling back. ¬†I could feel hints of joy again. The competitive drive that existed so deep in my being sent sparks of hope that gradually accumulated, gradually reignited a fire in my soul. A fire that soon gave me the strength to take a stand. Take a stand against the waging forces that were tearing me apart. Take a stand against the dark feelings that were pulling at my strings like a puppet-master. Take a stand against Satan…

My mom once told me that, in life, the ways in which God reveals himself to us are often subtle and sometimes overseen. ¬†In order for Christ to pour strength into us, we do not ¬†have to witness a production of grandeur or divine splendor. No parting of the clouds or blinding light shining down. No resonating voice booming from the air above us.¬†In fact, those types of experiences are few and far between, often sensationalized by a culture so entranced by only that which they can see, hear, and touch. But rather, God sometimes chooses to show His grace in the simplest of earthly things. It’s simply a matter of us taking to time to see them…

It took time, a great amount of time, but eventually I began to feel Him again. I could smell Him in the freshly cut grass on gameday. I could hear Him in the echoes of cheers that filled the Friday night sky. I could taste Him in the bitter flavor of a cold Gatorade at halftime. I could feel Him in the ticking seconds of the final minutes of every game. I could see Him in the moments that every athlete lives for–the moments of adrenaline and pressure and leadership. God was there. He had always been there. Patiently waiting for me to see Him in the stands…

(to be continued)

My Story (part 1)

Understand, first and foremost, that I do not share my story so that ‘Mo Isom’ can be known. ¬†I share my story so that God’s grace can be seen. I am a witness. I am a vessel. I am just one of His many tools–and proudly so. My explanations may seem vague and brief, but throughout the year and throughout my journey, details will be revealed and elaborated upon. For my trials are the stepping stones that guide my path.

My entire life has been a battle for control with our King. I was raised in a Christian household, attending church every Sunday (which, for most of my childhood, consisted of doodling on the prayer cards and fighting the urge to fall asleep during long sermons). ¬†Nevertheless, I was reared in a happy home…a peaceful home…a humble home. ¬†Being a “Christian” was what I knew and what was comfortable. But, like many young kids, that is where the pursuit of the faith rested stationary.

My parents were all that a young girl’s parents should be–supportive, passionate, encouraging, humble, patient, strict, loving, proud. ¬†(the list could continue on to fill the pages of this blog, but more will be touched on throughout the year) ¬†They sacrificed so much to see me succeed, whether it be in the classroom, my relationships, or my athletics.

Going into highschool, I wanted control. ¬†I wanted to be in the driver’s seat for this new, exciting phase of my life–I wanted to call the shots. ¬†I had ambition the size of a mountain and an ego to match. ¬†But with personal pride, comes corruption, and as I tried so desperately to steer my speeding course, I lost control along the way. ¬†The demands of my academics, the pressure of my growing soccer career, and the overwhelming expectations I felt to succeed pushed me down a slippery slope. And once I hit the bottom, I fell into an illness of obsession and control.

I developed an eating disorder that overwhelmed every aspect of my life. ¬†What started as bulimia evolved into a combination of anorexia and bulimia, some days eating so little as a piece of fruit and purging it shortly after. ¬†My illness grew to the point where I was forcing myself to throw up close to 10 times a day. When my fingers could no longer stimulate my gag reflexes, I started using objects. Toothbrushes, the base of hair brushes, anything that would cause me to vomit. ¬†Eventually, my body became so accustomed to pushing the food back up, I found that I couldn’t even keep food down.

The calories that my brain convinced me were still inside of me had to be burnt somehow.  With my soccer career progressing and the pressure to be the best riding heavy on my shoulders, exercise became my absolute obsession.  In the summer of my freshman year, I began exercising close to 6 hours a day. Religiously, obsessively. Running constantly, lifting weights, sprinting stadiums, then repeating it all over again.  With no fuel in my body to engage my energy stores,  I turned to pills. Any dietary pill I could possibly take that would provide me with energy, I took. I was weak, broken, hurting on the side, strained, tired, empty.

I’ve come to learn that our popular society today is Satan’s biggest cheerleader. ¬†Throughout all of the pain, the abuse¬†of my body, the neglect and obsession, I found myself succeeding by society’s norms. ¬†I was finally selected onto the Regional Olympic team, began traveling the world playing soccer, won beauty pageants, fielded new compliments of “how beautiful” I looked, was signed with a prestigious modeling agency, and eventually signed a Division I scholarship. ¬†But at what cost?

I am not trying to take away from the successes and the character, discipline, and perseverance it took to achieve them, but my disorder did play a part. ¬†It defined my highschool years. It was a secret I hid so carefully, so methodically, that it would have most certainly ruined me had it gone on. ¬†Satan has a funny way of deceiving us…of blinding us to what’s True by cloaking our pain in success. ¬†But I was empty, I was broken, and I was thirsty for the Love I once knew…

So 6 months before I was set to enroll at LSU, I came clean to my mom. I spilled the darkness I had endured for 4 years and I pleaded for help. I entered therapy and consulted with a nutritionist, worked diligently to overcome my disease, and worked relentlessly to rebuild my relationship with Christ. After a great deal of learning and rebuilding, I made a very serious promise to my mom before leaving for LSU. I promised her that I would not fall back into the hands of my old demons. I promised her that I would not digress.

Through our gracious, unfailing, forgiving King–my strength was renewed. ¬†I gave control back to Christ and made my way to the Bayou…..