Radical Grace for Renee

Rolling on the floor laughing! Not even close. My story is one of horror, years of isolation, and God’s redemption. Or as I like to call it: radical grace.

I’ve always known from a young age that I was meant to do great things for God. I remember my parents buying me “Book of Bible Lists” when I was seven so I could reach the orphans half-way around the world in Romania with the gospel. It took me twenty more years to realize that we’re all spiritual orphans and God’s the only one who guarantees a 100% adoption rate. Talk about radical.

Then in Junior High I was home schooled (this time not by choice) because of severe anxiety, which all started when my parents (full-time missionaries) left for a two-week overseas trip. I felt abandoned. I don’t know why. My parents are SO Beaver Cleaver it’s not even funny.

I remember being forced to learn how to pray. My thoughts would race from “I’m too fat” to “I’m too scared” to “Nobody will ever love me” to “I’m too afraid to even leave the house.” I don’t wish that upon anyone, let alone a child—but God’s grace covered me even then.

High School wasn’t any better. I lost the skin off my feet and face due to severe eczema. I was one of “those” cases the doctors could never figure out. They gave me tons of drugs for it and I ballooned to a size 45-inch waist and gained over 100 pounds in ten months. This time I KNEW no one would EVER love me, nor would I EVER have a NORMAL life. Period.

Six years later (and I’m leaving out a lot of pain, heartache, wishing I were dead, having no life/friends) I moved to Texas to pursue missions full-time. I totally jumped the gun. If God healed me then certainly He’d want me serving Him full-time somewhere other than where I was living in California with my parents. Five months later, I lost the skin off my hands. Stupid Texas. Stupid weather. Stupid God. This time I really wanted to die. Why? What’s the point? I spent six years of my life reading the Bible EVERY day, journaling, everything—only to fail at serving God?

Three years later (mind, you that’s about ten years of my life) I s-l-o-w-l-y got back into ministry. I bought a keyboard and played worship at my church. Thanks to mom and dad years of piano lessons paid off. I learned one thing: worship wins the war. Enough said! I praised God when he gave and took away, when the tears fell, and when the anxiety came.

But that wasn’t enough. I wanted more. My mentor at the time asked me, “Renee, the Holy Spirit wants to know—if you were well, what would you do?” I still have the card today. I wrote down: counselor, teacher, writer, speaker. Check. Check. Check. Check.

All those years of begging God to heal me paid off. I graduated from Biola University, I got the job of my dreams at Outreach Events helping to serve pastor’s nationwide by hooking them up with the best speakers and comedians—then if that weren’t enough I got discovered on Twitter by NavPress and published my first book, a daily devotional for 20-somethings called “Faithbook of Jesus.” Or also known as “Those who plant in tears…” Faithbook is my Samuel. Everything I prayed and asked God for He’s answered. It was the best couple years of my life. Until…

About a year ago, I realized I couldn’t handle launching a ministry to 20-somethings while working at Outreach Events. Even though I had faced the worst ten years of my life, nothing prepared me for when God called me to reach those who need Him (or also known as people who need a second chance). I wasn’t prepared. The economy sucked. I’d have to move home with my parents. My anxiety was killing me. There were so many odds. To make it as a speaker/author is tough, let alone sustain it in this economy…but, it was something I knew God was literally “calling” me to do. So I started my life over for the fourth time.

Now? I live in grace-land. Who knows where He’s taking me next. I swear I’m done with the whole suffering bit, but every time I think it’s over God breaks me down to build me back up. Not a picture of what I wanted when I accepted Christ at the age of five, but I’ve learned to forgive myself every time I fall short of my own expectations. God, not my will, but yours be done. Say it 4x!

Make a lasting impression for eternity on your hard to buy 20-something individual by giving Renee Johnson’s devotional book, Faithbook of Jesus. Order through Amazon at http://astore.amazon.com/faitofjesu-20.

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