12 Do not let sin control the way you live;[a] do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. 14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. (Rom 6:12-14) NLT
I am celebrating an anniversary of sorts–it has been twenty years since I said “yes” to Jesus and He became Lord of my life. The process of going from that place to where I am now has been quite the journey. The transformation did not happen overnight; it was a slow, day-by-day, sometimes imperceptible change. I remember when I used to think a certain way, when I let sin control my life. It was a life lived out of desperation for love, acceptance, approval, and value. It didn’t matter what I did, or where I looked, those things were always elusive to me. There was no “one” or no “thing” that filled that longing. Until I met Jesus!
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. 21 And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. 22 But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:20-23) NLT
I never really thought about “sin” all those years ago; I had my own belief about what was right or wrong. Looking back now, I see the life I led was done from a place of brokenness. I had been hurt and in turn I hurt a lot of people—myself included. That was never the way God intended us to live. It is the result of sin and a broken world. Because of it, there is a lot of shame for the choices I made. It has taken a lot of years of walking with God, believing he loves me despite the choices I made, and accepting that I am really forgiven to be able to let go of that shame. He really doesn’t want us to live under that bondage of the past.
When the book of 1 John says “We love because he first loved us” (4:19), I can honestly attest to that. As I let Jesus into my heart, as I let him love me, I wanted to change—I wanted to live differently. At first, I didn’t understand how he could love me so I had to go on faith that it was the truth. Once I really started to believe it, I no longer wanted to live the life of sin I had been living, I wanted the freedom that comes from being “slaves of God”. Little by little I’ve had to let go of the behaviors I had learned to survive “my way”. They were like a life-jacket to me. I was afraid to give them up. All along the way God has said “trust me”. When I wasn’t able to do that, he said, “I’ll wait.” As his love has been there consistently over the past twenty years, I have been able to walk through some really hard places, let him reveal and heal some ugly things inside of me, and release bondages that have tied me down most of my life. Now, I choose to live “under the freedom of God’s grace”.
I asked my nephew if I could share this picture of him and my brother. It is one that is precious to me. In my mind, I see it as a picture of me as a child, full of trust, leaping into the arms of my heavenly Father. I know he is smiling, he loves me, and is going to catch me. There is nothing else in this world that I trust more than that. He has filled my longings for love, acceptance, approval, and value. He has given me a peace within I never thought possible.
Lord Jesus, thank you for taking all the broken pieces of my life and putting them back together again. I wouldn’t trade the last twenty years of my life with you for anything. They have been filled with pain and a lot of tears as you mended my broken heart. I know we aren’t finished yet but I trust you and your goodness. You’ve not asked me to walk through anything alone, you’ve given me strength when I had none, and calmed my fears. I whole-heartedly surrender to you. In your name I pray. Amen