Well hello there :)
For anyone that doesn’t know, I’m Ally :) I have spent the last three and half years volunteering for a Christian nonprofit, traveling in and out of Zimbabwe, Africa. More recently, I’ve moved back to the States, and am preparing to marry the love of my life in just about a month! This year has been an intense journey with my Lord and Savior, and it is my hope that by sharing some some of it, this blog helps you along your walk with Christ, wherever you might be.
Ever since I first traveled to Zimbabwe, I have wanted to start a blog. It has been just about three years since I decided to do that, and here we are. My first blog. Better late than never!
Today marks the day that I have been back in the United States for exactly one month. I spent the morning journaling, praying, and reading the Word, and was brought to a scripture that felt like deja vu…
“1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” | 1 John 5:1–5
This passage describes exactly what victory in Christ looks like; committed faith in Christ, love for Him and fellow believers, and obedience to his commands.
When I arrived in Zimbabwe on January 7th, 2016, this is not how I would have described victory. I’m not sure why I ever thought I could describe victory, because I had never experienced it. I grew up in a believing family, going to church each Sunday and Wednesday, attending Bible class, and even competing in nerdy Bible Bowl competitions. I was told that good Christians do not smoke, swear, drink, have sex before marriage, and that they do read their Bible everyday and pray, and so I strived, in my own strength, to do and not do these things.
Most of the time, studying the Word ended in frustration. It felt dead and uninspired to me, and I knew those were two words I was absolutely not supposed to associate with the Bible. Yet I couldn’t help but feel like what I was reading about didn’t exist in my life…at all. Jesus preached healing, restoration, abundant life, joy, peace, and much more, yet the believers I was surrounded by, not to mention myself, were bogged down by sin, depression, anxiety, and bitterness toward the gospel. This bitterness in my soul kept me from feeling at home amongst believers most of my life. By the time I turned 16, it dissolved my determination to obey the commands in the Word. In mid 2015, it had corrupted the love I had felt for Christ and everyone around me. And by the end of that year, it stole away the last bit of faith I had remaining.
Needless to say, I arrived in Zimbabwe as an unbeliever. It still shocks me to type those words…but they are true. Many people have told me that I just went through a phase…that I still believed, but I needed a time of “exploration” or something, in order to “come back”. That is a dangerous lie! There was nothing to come back to. My life, and the decisions I made, were based on a counterfeit Christian walk. I was taught Christian morals, so I attempted them (and failed). I knew the right things to say at a Bible study, and how to sound like I was praying. My point is: there was nothing to come back to. I had no relationship with Christ; I was disillusioned into believing I did. The difference was, I arrived in Zimbabwe understanding that I didn’t, and never had.
“21 Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven. 22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” | Matthew 7:21–23
It took me a long time to understand that the juxtaposition between my daily life and what was being promised over my life according to the gospel was the root of my disbelief. So I resolved the Bible was a lie, and that maybe someone named Jesus existed…but he was not who he said he was.
For a short time, this felt like freedom, and even a small victory. And in a way it was. I had finally realized the inconsistency that my life was built on. But the realization also left me with a gap in my identity, and I began to wrestle with that. Looking back, I have realized that God really showed up in that struggle; pursuing my heart and placing people as obstacles in the path I was headed down. And I’ll expand on that in my next entry. ❤