Create + Write + Inspire
Through and Through
by Jennifer Kelly on October 7th, 2014

I'll be honest, I don't think we really know what we're getting into when we decide to follow Jesus.

We hear words like grace, forgiveness, freedom, and love, and think, "Oh, that sounds so nice and sweet and pretty".

Now that I'm getting my Biblical Studies degree, I'm learning fancy words like sanctification, doctrine, Messiahship, and apostolic writings.
You have to admit... I actually sound somewhat knowledgeable, eh?

And while I LOVE diving in, and reading, and studying, and learning, I can't help but feel like I was missing something lately. There were some dots that were just NOT connecting for me.

Here's what I mean:
There's this verse in I Thessalonians that says:
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through" (I Thess. 5:23; NIV).

At first, I was like, "Oh, how neat, God is going to make me clean and whole and good from the inside out". We say weird things like this as Christians, and have NO IDEA, what-in-the-heck we are actually talking about.

So, for many reasons, and for many days, the verse stayed with me.
When I sat down to write, I thought, "through and through and sanctify"
When I was doing nothing, I thought to myself, "through and through and sanctify"
When I was getting ready, or cleaning, and even relaxing, I thought, "through and through and sanctify. Over and over and over again.

It kept popping up, all-of-the-time. So I would go back and read it, mull it over, and try my best to think about - what was it that God was trying to tell me? (the Christian-fancy word for this is: meditating). What does God mean when He says that He is going to sanctify me 'through and through'?

The more I thought about it, and the more I cross-referenced Bible stories, the more I was starting to realize that this sanctification process did not sound peaceful. And then it really started to dawn on me that God's process of "setting apart" probably does not come through only (reading) or (studying) or being (knowledgeable) about sanctification, but actually making the conscious decision, through faith, to listen and obey.

'Through and Through'
and 'sanctify' was messing with my mind.

"The Greek term for sanctify means to "set apart" for God's special use, to make distinct from what is common - hence, to be made like God who is distinct from all else and therefore holy. The Greek word for sanctify refers to a process which is perfect in principle though not yet attained" (Strong's; highlights are my own).

(perfect in principle, definitely not attained - Thank The Lord, right?)

And then, I really got to thinking (watch out now), and had that moment where the light bulb goes off above my head, like an old Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Here's how I managed to connect-the-dots.

DOT #1: Last month, September 8th - to be exact, I decided to made the decision to not drink alcohol. You can click here to read my blog post on some of the many reasons I made such an important decision. What you do need to know, is I had felt a very strong inclination - actually it was more like the Holy Spirit saying, "Come on now Jen - you know what you need to do, and we both know you don't need to drink. I have better plans for you. You need to trust me with this". And this strong "inclination" kept on bugging me for a very long time, just like the Thessalonian verse (over and over and over again). But I didn't decide to surrender my drinking until a month ago, mostly because I'm a STUBBORN ASS.
So, I finally decided to bite the bullet, quit drinking, then write about me making the decision to quit drinking (because that's a GREAT idea). You know what's even crazier? It's been one of the best decisions I have ever made! Blessings and moments and freedom that have been given as gifts from God, does not even begin, to describe what has followed from such a difficult decision. God is faithful.

I made a conscious decision, through faith, to listen and obey.
(End of DOT 1)

DOT #2: Then I started to remember all sorts of faith-based decisions.
(My definition of faith-based decisions: A decision where everyone around you will pretty much think you have LOST YOUR MARBLES, but you know that deep-deep down, God is asking you to do it). It's a good definition, read about Moses or Joshua or Abraham or actually anyone in Scripture - everyone had something God required of them that sounded (at the time) crazy. Those people, who listened and obeyed out of faith - yeah, they actually were set apart. (I CAN be a Biblical Studies major!)
Anyhow, I could specifically remember times where I listened and then obeyed (and always through prayer). I quit my corporate job (seems like a lifetime ago) to finish counseling, stay at home with my kids, and work on my marriage. Turned out to be the best and most difficult step (in and through faith) I have ever made. My marriage, my family, my kids, my writing, and my school work, are all a direct result of that one, painstakingly, difficult, thought-I-could-never-do-it, DECISION. God is faithful.

I made a conscious decision, through faith, to listen and obey.
(End of DOT 2 - more like a super huge BLOB of a freaking miracle)

DOT #3: To write. And not just write, but stop blogging for and use my own name. No more subtlety there, huh? To finally start putting my book together (it's almost done - I mean I think it is. I change my mind like every 30 seconds and delete on a regular basis, so we'll have to see about that one). And you know what happens? I'm actually somewhat good at it. I LOVE writing. Some of my writing is actually helping other people.
I got to share my counseling story on Annie Downs' website, I have some other things coming out on different platforms too. But more than anything, writing has caused me to grow in my own faith. Jesus and I are way closer because of it. It's something I LOVE to do and it makes my Father up in heaven proud. I'm being faithful and using a gift He has bestowed. But my fear of writing - or better described as my fear of failure - almost stopped me. I couldn't even imagine my life without writing right now. God is faithful.

I made a conscious decision, through faith, to listen and obey.
(End of DOT 3 - if you're not connecting the dots by now, I cannot help you)

My 'Aha' moment after connecting the DOTS:

Sanctification is hell (not literally people - it's an expression).
It's not fun to go through.
No one wakes up in the morning and is like, "Oh YES GOD, pick me! pick me! Put me through crazy life-changing decisions where I need to fight my fears and make tough choices that will make me uncomfortable and cry and frustrated".

To be set apart is HARD.

The 'through and through' can happen in the midst of cancer, loss, leaving your job, or whatever else you might be going through in your life. But I know, when you make a conscious decision, (because of your faith in a God that loves you and calls you by name), to trust and to listen and to obey - He will be with you, because God is faithful.

And then you will look back on your own life and connect your own dots. Because just as Romans 8:28 states, "...we know that all things work together for good to those who love God..." (NKJV).
Connecting the dots and sanctification is much like the revelation of this picture. If you look above, at the beginning of my post, you can only see a small part of it. But with time and perspective you can see the whole thing.

It takes (hard work) and (dedication) and (discipline) and (mess ups) and a (heck-of-a-lot-of-grace) to go through the process. I'm not saying you need to quit drinking or write or quit your job - all those were extremely personal to me. Everyone has their own things that they need (to do) or (to surrender) that is personal to YOU. Because remember, sanctification is perfect in principle, but not yet attained! Jesus Christ did the work on the cross, you are forgiven, and in the end... God makes you a masterpiece.

But you can't just learn or read or study the words, you have to make conscious decisions through faith, to listen and obey. It's the BEST thing you will ever do.

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:23-24; NIV).

Yes, the 'Through and Through' is hard, and you will mess up, and cry, and you might not see blessings right away -
But He is faithful.

What crazy, life changing thing is God calling you to do or surrender in faith?

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