Now just to remind you again how this works, Jean is a total stranger to me. We have never met. The idea is to try to appreciate something about a total stranger as a way to encourage her, but also, to encourage us all (myself included) to simply appreciate the beauty in every single one of God's children. The best way I know how to do this is to view someone's blog. So much of a person's heart, soul, and identity is invested in her blog. So without further ado, here is what I can gather about Jean from her blog:
Jean is 27 years old. She enjoys running and monitoring her health through natural means. Jean describes in her Blogger profile that before being saved, she worked as a Mental Health Nurse. Today, she is a full time wife and mother to her three children. Jean resides in Lanchashire, England. She is of Zimbabwean descent.
What Attracted Me To Her Blog
The very first time I visited Jean's blog was in 2008. Someone referred me to a few posts she had written. One thing that I noticed about some (not all) of Jean's posts were that they were very controversial. I did not agree with everything I read, but I admired her courage in posting her thoughts amidst a great deal of backlash. This is something I think we can all learn from Jean, especially when it comes to evangelism. There are many times when we as Christians are faced with tough questions and we are afraid that if we give the truthful answers, people might be angry with us. I cannot say what goes through Jean's head when she reads some of the critical comments she's received from people in the past, but regardless, she's standing up for what she believes in. That's a skill we all need to develop!
Why I am Grateful for Jean
The main reason I have chosen to celebrate Jean in this installment of SHEologian Spotlight is that she has recently posted a very candid and touching confession on her blog. In her March 23 post, "An Open Apology to All," Jean pours out her heart as she admits to sins of pride and legalism. The post is truly inspiring because it illustrates how truly powerless we are in many cases to see our own sin, and how desperately we need God to do the work of change in our lives. What is really truly amazing about Jean's post is that she describes what she was like as a legalist: how she judged others for not being able to pull themselves up from their own bootstraps, only to discover that she was in the very same predicament, unable to pull herself out of bondage to legalism. Here is an excerpt from her story:
To me everyone else became lost. The road had been narrow before, but it became even narrower. Almost impossible. Before long I had come to believe that all the churches out there are apostate. I even believed there was no true Pastor alive today. All bible teachers were deceived . . .I started isolating myself from other believers, and I became a lone ranger Christian, eventually leaving the church I was attending . . . Yet I felt so empty inside. So lonely. Something was so wrong and I could not put my finger on it. I would ask God to help me over and over, yet the next day I would feel worse . . . Somehow deep down I knew these other believers had encouraged me so much. I had never realised it until I was completely cut off from other Christians. I even missed the Christians who had encouraged me on my blog. I had never felt so isolated . . . I realised my error. I realised the lies and deceits I had followed. I realised that I had been so deceived. It felt like I have been bewitched, as if someone had cast a spell on me. And suddenly the Lord pulled me out. There was something spiritually dark and unhealthy about the whole experience. I came face to face with who I really am. I realised what a terrible witness for Christ I had been. I realised how I had gone around calling everyone that did not agree with me lost. I had been so judgemental. I judged people's hearts. Yet no one judged my heart. I was a legalist. I was in error. I was wrong.Reading this confession from Jean brings tears to my eyes every time I read it (and I have read it time and time again) because it is so encouraging to me. It is encouraging because I know legalistic people, and at times it seems as though they will never change. Jean is the inspiration that miracles in this area do happen. But even more encouraging is the reminder that GOD IS AT WORK! He never leaves us or forsakes us, even when we are marinating in our most ungodly attitudes. He remains with us through every season of our lives, and does not withdraw His faithfulness when we are faithless. And we see from Jean's story, that performing certain actions is a faithless task. James said that faith without works is dead. Likewise, works without faith is also dead. Works without faith is just works, and no man is justified by his works.
I am grateful to Jean for her courage. I think it is human nature for each of us to have so much pride that we don't even admit our shortcomings to one another. Yet this is exactly what the Great Physician would have us to do. Confession is freeing to those who are confessing, and it is a blessing to those of us who are on the receiving end of the confession.
When I first approached her about the SHEologian Spotlight, she protested, saying she did not think she was a good example to others. I thought she might say something like that. It is a pretty typical response of those who are recently humbled, because they do not want to become prideful again, but also because they are truly so grieved over their sin, they cannot possibly see themselves as an encouragement to anybody.
On April 23, C.J. Mahaney spoke as a guest at my home church, and he delivered a powerful message about God's love for us. In his message, C.J. asked, "Why do we have such a hard time believing that God loves us?" C.J. shared his personal theory: it's because we look within ourselves for any redeeming qualities, and we are disappointed, because there are no redeeming qualities that come from within! Instead, we must look to Calvary for the reasons to forgive ourselves and move on.
Jean was right on one hand. She is not a good example, at least, not if we were to measure her actions based on her own merits. But when we look at her story and take the focus off Jean and instead put it on what God has done in her life, then we can't find a more wonderful, perfect example than Jean.
If you would like to meet Jean, visit her blog:
The Virtuous Woman
Please Note: The SHEologian Spotlight series is designed to honor our readers, whomever they may be. We do not necessarily agree with everything that is posted on other people's blogs. We recognize some of these views may likewise differ from yours. Should you desire to pursue these issues further with any of the individuals featured in this series here or on their blogs, we humbly ask that you keep the discussion friendly and irenic in the spirit of brotherly love. Thank you and God Bless!