This place I’m in feels familiar – soil I haven’t been planted on in years, the presence of God. The strange smell that my spirit sent up to Him was one that reeked of sin, disobedience and rebellion. I found myself at a crossroads between continuing to indulge in self-gratifying pleasures or resuming the journey of pursuing the woman God destined me to be. I had been running the streets of the enemy’s territory far longer than I intended and was ready to come back home to God. My physical body was in the world, but my heart remained with God. I knew better. After years of toiling with resuming my spiritual journey, I finally decided to go back home. And I’m so glad that Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies) saw me coming down the road (Luke 15:20).
As Christians we often hear about the unbeliever. But we don’t hear about the “backslider” enough. These are the children of God who have roots planted in the soil of Christ and branches that display their foundational relationship with Him. They bear the sweet fruit of wisdom, scripture and faith. They were raised in church and have all five senses awakened to their spiritual gifts and intimacy with God. These are the Saints who know right from wrong; good from evil. But what happens when that person finds themselves living the lifestyle of a sinner? Or more importantly, what should they do when they want to come back to God and don’t know how to forward? Here are three things to do immediately in your relationship with God after He has welcomed you back home:
The story of the Prodigal Son is one of my favorites in the Bible (Luke 15:11-32). This story was told to demonstrate the relationship between the “backslider” and God. It exemplifies the all-encompassing grace and mercy of God. Repentance is an apology to God. In this story, when the son returns home, he first acknowledges his wrongdoings. I believe true repentance is a three-step process.
1. Postured Heart (Proverbs 21:2).
What are the motives of your heart? The only verse I side-eye in this triumphant story is verse 17. I question the son’s reason for returning home with his family. It seems to only be because of hunger. Do you genuinely want to seek God? Did you return home because you sincerely wanted to or for reasons unrelated to seeking God and His purpose for you? Unlike the Prodigal Son, may we come back to God because we love Him. But, even when our motives are impure, God is merciful and kind. Like the father in Luke 15, God welcomes us with open arms and restores our position despite our own unfaithfulness.
2. Confession (1 John 1:9).
Call those sins out by name. If we are bold enough to commit those sins, then we should be bold enough to name them when repenting. It’s exactly like when a friend hurts us and they only say, “I’m sorry.” Some of us follow up with, “Sorry for what?” When we confess, we admit what went wrong.
3. Commitment (Psalms 119:1).
Stay the course. This isn’t about making promises to God that we can’t keep because the bible warns us against that. This is about making intentional and deliberate decisions to live a lifestyle that exemplifies Christ. If we examine our lives and see all the things we’re committed to: work, hobbies, relationships, fitness, self-care practices, etc., we’ll see that we can apply that same level of commitment in our pursuit of God.
Related: What Is the Cost of Following Jesus?
Coming fresh out of a lifestyle of sin is an overwhelming feeling. There are many emotions that flood us in uneasy waves. Fear, joy, relief, anxiety, peace and confusion are a few of them. My biggest fear when returning from rebellion is that I’ll quickly slip-up and travel back down that dark ominous road. How can I resubmit to God on Day 1 and then overcome temptation on Day 2? The following scripture is the first thing to remember.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”2 Corinthians 12:9
It is also important to rewind mentally and spiritually and discover where things went wrong so that you can avoid taking destructive steps in the future. Here are some solid questions to ask yourself when you think back on how you ended up in that backslidden state.
- Did you turn to sin on your own or were you influenced by someone or something? How can you work on self-discipline and creating boundaries/ending those relationships?
- Did a negative event(s) happen that caused you to spiral? If so, what was it/they? What are your triggers? What alternative methods could you implement whenever you’re faced with a similar situation in the future?
- What sin(s) did you struggle with during that time? What scriptures can you use to identify that sin and overcome it? Are there any other positive outlets you can utilize when temptation arises?
- Outside of pleasure – what other emotions did you experience while living this lifestyle (happiness, satisfaction, freedom, etc.)? How can you learn to use godly behavior to experience these exact same emotions?
After you rewind, it’s time to restart. The beautiful thing about God is that He is forgiving. His response to us coming home is exactly like the father in this story. He embraces us, kisses us, clothes us in a new wardrobe, grants us access back to his unlimited supplies and luxuries, replenishes us with a hearty meal, and ends everything with a celebration. He desires closeness with us and wants us to become all that He has called us to be. Here are a few things to remember as you begin to get back on track in your spiritual life.
- You are forgivable (Psalm 103:12).
- You are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- You are imperfect (Romans 3:23).
- You can do it (2 Timothy 1:7).
- You are purposed (Romans 8:28).
Take the time out to create a plan for how your next 30 days with God will look. This should include things that you are willing to sacrifice, how much time you will spend with Him, and what things you personally need to work on as you grow closer to Christ. The road ahead will take intentionality, discipline, and effort. But it’s worth it. Becoming all God has called you to be is always worth it.
Malia was born and raised in the city of the Chiefs, delicious BBQ and beautiful fountains, Kansas City, MO. She has a heart for empowering women to become the best version of themselves through the power of Christ. With an extensive history in the Mass Communications field, Malia quickly discovered her passion for writing. “It brings me so much happiness to know that my words help change lives.” When she’s not trying out local food spots or spending time with her fur baby, she’s writing for her Christian-based online magazine, The Art Of A Queen’s Hustle.