Growing up I don't think I ever really understood what faith was. We went to church on Sunday and Wednesday, read bible stories before bed and prayed before meals, but I didn't know what it was like to have a real genuine deep relationship with God. I thought just praying before bed and going to church was a relationship. But it's really not. And I never really felt God's power and love to its full effect until I developed that relationship. Oh boy, when God tugs at your heart, it's something else. Having the ability to listen to where He is pulling you (and trust Him enough to actually follow) is an amazing gift.
Your relationship with God is like any other relationship (except way more important)- you can't see your boyfriend for one hour a week and expect to be super close, can you? You can't text your best friend one sentence and expect them to know your heart, can you?
The difference is with God he really already knows everything about us, but even more, he wants us to know him. And He wants us to let him in. It's so much better to hear someone tell their story first hand than to watch a two-minute preview of it.
The biggest thing I misunderstood before forming a real relationship with God was the power of conviction. I thought conviction was punishment. I thought it was telling us everything we're doing wrong and God scolding us. But it's really not. It's more of him saying "I see you, I see your struggles. Let me help you."
Conviction goes hand in hand with salvation. We live in a broken world. But we were saved and no longer have to go through life alone. Because of our salvation, we have a conviction! God shows us when we are doing wrong. But the amazing thing is that despite our imperfections, we were still chosen and loved.
"John 16:7-11 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned."
It's the moments when you show up to church and the preacher says that one thing you needed to hear and you laugh to yourself and think, "Alright God I see what you did there... why are you calling me out like that?" We really can't hide our struggles. God knows your heart and sees where you need him most. But He also wants us to see those things too.
"Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit where a person is able to see himself as God sees him: guilty, defiled, and totally unable to save himself (John 16:8)."
Conviction allows us to recognize that we need Him and where we need Him most. It's those tender wounds that only God can heal. It's when He's calling out saying "I have the answer just let me fix it". We are human, meaning we are always going to fail. Understanding the power of conviction allows us to recognize where we fail, and how to be better.
Conviction isn't punishment, it's power. It gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves and allow God to heal our hearts and work through us.