Making Me New: Sarah Reagan Tepool
Making Me New: Sarah Reagan Tepool
Growing up in the church, I always knew who Jesus was. I knew He was God’s son who gave up His life for me to live. My parents always taught my sisters and I how to live according to God’s word in our home. I would do a devotional every now and then and always attended church, but it did not mean anything to me personally. I was living what I like to call a “checklist faith.” I was doing good things, but they were not to glorify God but to simply check them off the list. Doing GOOD things, rather than being GODLY deceived me. There is a difference. One can be a good person and not know God intimately. That was me in high school. On the outside looking in, people would have thought that I had it all together. I, myself, thought the same thing for a while.
One thing I let the world tell me was that if I wasn’t drinking alcohol then I was obviously walking with God. They were wrong. It isn’t all about doing good things, but it is about where your heart is. I did not have the right motives for not drinking. Though it was a good thing that I didn’t, I was only doing it because I had been told my whole life that it was wrong. I knew that if I drank, the whole world would be talking about it. That is where I got confused. Right versus wrong mean nothing to our God. Our heart means everything to Him. This was my downfall: living for the approval of man rather than God. In Galations 1:10 it says “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” At that point in my life, I was living completely for man and what the world told me was good. I was more concerned with the people in my life rather than my Savior. I was constantly trying to please everyone around me, which was exhausting. I lived for the relationships I was in and I put all of my joy in them. When those relationships failed, which they always did because God was not a part of them, I was left in pieces. I would always end up feeling empty inside. In the midst of my brokenness, I realized for the first time that I had turned from the one whose love would never and could never fail me. I had let my flesh lead me rather than the Holy Spirit.
This was the beginning of Jesus’s transforming work in my heart. The Lord then placed a girl in my life whom I cannot imagine my life without. She came to my small group to share her testimony. Little did I know that her testimony would be the beginning of my own. All that she shared hit home with me in so many ways. Hearing her talk about herself was like listening to somebody talk about me. I left that night wanting so badly to have a testimony of my own. I had always felt like my story wasn’t good enough. Well the enemy could no longer make me believe that. I began praying for the Lord to reveal my story to me. I started waking up early each morning to spend time with him. I knew that in order to fully love Him, I had to spend time with Him. It is extremely hard to love somebody with all your heart when you do not know them. This began my daily walk with the Lord. This was not easy by any means. I would get up before school and sit in my bathtub and read my Bible. Sounds crazy right? It was the only thing that could wake me up at the time. Don’t worry, I don’t do this anymore. Once I got in the habit of spending time with our God, there was no going back. I woke up every morning craving His word and my time in His loving presence. Nothing compares to it.
The transformation did not happen over night, but I kept clinging to Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find.” I believed in this promise that if I continued to seek God every day, I would surely find Him. The Lord was faithful in this promise! No surprise there! We have a loyal Father. Ever since I have been living a life centered around my Savior and Father, I have experienced true joy. I no longer am empty but completely fulfilled! Do I still experience trials? Of course. God never promises an easy life, but He does promise His guidance through it. The most recent and prominent thing the Lord uses to continue transforming me is people. Towards the end of high school and the beginning of my freshman year of college, I was praying for the friends I would meet in college. I prayed every day of senior year for the Lord to give me a few true friends in college who loved Jesus and would encourage me in my walk with the Lord. My first semester was quite the opposite of what I was expecting. The transition was hard. Many times I felt so alone. There were lots of tears, but I would not trade it for anything.
The Lord used this time to show me that I was still relying on people. He allowed me to feel lonely in order to show me, once again, that He wants my whole heart, first and foremost. I have never felt closer to the Lord than I did that semester. He used that time to draw me more tightly into His loving arms. I was so hurt during that time. Looking back, it was exactly what I needed for me to fully realize that the Lord is my friend and the only one I will ever need. He will never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8). Once I truly believed that, the Lord then blessed me with incredible, God-fearing friends. See, He wants to bless us abundantly, but He wants to make sure He has our heart first. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I am overjoyed to say that I am a new creation in Christ. Not only that, but He is continuing to make me new every single day. The Lord is continuing to teach me and change me. I will always be a work in progress, but the journey that follows is a beautiful one. Because of Jesus Christ, I have the privilege of living life hand in hand with my Heavenly Father.