God has been working in the lives and the marriage of Rob and Amber Noland, members of Grace + Peace, in breathtaking ways over the last year and a half.
With a thorough understanding of theology, Reformed teaching, and the Bible, Rob thought he knew everything there was to know about being a Christian until December 2019. That winter, God confronted him with his sin and convicted him to the core. It devastated him as he realized the ways his sin had hurt Amber, and he began to see that he could only change through transformation by the gospel.
Rob realized that his head knowledge didn’t translate to a heart knowledge of and relationship with Jesus Christ – he didn’t truly know the Lord he claimed to follow. “I thought that strict adherence to theology was what saved me, but I had been living as a Pharisee – judging others but still living in sin. I’d been trying to forge faith, and I studied the Bible so that no one would call me out. What a great arrangement that was: I believe these things and Jesus saves me even though I have no love for him.”
As God chased down Rob and called him to Himself, Rob experienced grace and saw firsthand how central it is to the life of a Christian. “It was like getting glasses for the first time and finally being able to see clearly. I had a hunger and thirst for righteousness that I’d never experienced before. This wasn’t a renewal of faith or just waking up from being a ‘sleepy Christian’ – it was being born again.”
Rob began reading and praying through the Psalms. Growing up, he memorized Psalm 1 many times, but this time, he read it with fresh eyes and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “I read about the man described in Psalm 1 and realized I wasn’t that man, but I wanted God to make me that type of man.”
The natural byproduct of Rob’s brand new relationship with his Savior was renewed relationship with the people in his life, especially Amber. After a few months of Rob’s rebirth, Amber told him that he was different. “The way he approached me and others was different,” she says. “It was beautiful, seeing his childlike faith. ”
While all of this was going on in Rob’s heart and as his sin was exposed, Amber found that she had to work through a lot of resentment and pain. As she went to the Lord with her pain, she grew in her faith as well. Through the women’s Bible study at Grace+Peace, she has experienced raw vulnerability, authenticity, and no condemnation or judgement. This support and true Christian fellowship is what she needed during a spiritually challenging season.
Before December 2019, Rob and Amber had been attending Grace+Peace regularly and had gotten to know Benjie Slaton, the head pastor. Benjie walked alongside them, talking with Rob through the many questions he had and supporting their marriage through significant adversity. “I’ve always been able to be transparent with Benjie,” says Rob, “and one of the benefits of being part of a smaller church was getting to know the pastor and having him walk through these challenges with us.”
Rob now has an understanding of his sin and of God’s grace that saved him, not because of his knowledge or piety, but even while he was still a sinner (Rom. 5:8). “I could have died a complacent, nominal Christian and never have known it,” says Rob. Praise be to God that He opened Rob’s eyes, transformed his heart as only He can, and strengthened Rob and Amber’s marriage and faith.