41 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,
your salvation, according to your promise;
42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
43 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.
44 I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
46 I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,
47 for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
48 I reach out for your commands, which I love,
that I may meditate on your decrees. (Psalm 119:41-48) NIV
I grew up going to church. It’s what I did on Sunday. I wish I could say we did it as a family, but my brother, sister and I were sent off each week. I learned about Jesus, I learned all the children’s stories and sang songs about Jonah and Noah. There was the picture of Jesus with all the children gathered around him. I was taught the Lord’s Prayer, the doxology, and the Christian Creed. When I was confirmed, I received my first bible. I still have that bible. But I never opened it.
Fast forward 30 years. I had taken my children to Sunday School, had them baptized, and went through the motions of being a Christian. Then my life fell apart (for the first time). Just about the time I pulled myself back together, BOOM! Round two! You see, the operative word there was “I” pulled myself back together. I “pulled myself up by the bootstraps” and bulldozed my way through the pain. You really can only do that for so long before the explosion. “I” was not the answer, so I went searching.
That was when I met Jesus for the first time. Yes, I had lived my entire life with the head knowledge of Jesus but I had never let him into my heart. I had gone to church ever since I could remember and had never heard about having a personal relationship with him. He pursued me. He won me over with his unfailing love. I said yes and started a journey to a new and better life.
The longer I followed him, the more he taught me. The more he taught me, the more I realized how much I wanted freedom—the freedom he died to give me. In order to do that, I had to learn to obey his law, his precepts. I could no longer straddle the fence and live partly his way and partly the way of the world. I hungered for his word. I knew healing was in it. Freedom from shame comes with knowing who you are in Christ. His word and his presence are my constant companion.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:10-12)
There are so many layers to God’s word. Just when I think I’ve mastered a verse, he shows me a word I hadn’t noticed before. It takes on a deeper meaning. It draws me closer to him, my heart is filled with his unfailing love. I can’t even begin to recount the number of times I prayed with a problem, or a complaint, or a broken heart, only to open the bible to the perfect verse that corrected me, directed me, encouraged me, or enveloped me like a warm blanket. And if I missed it or didn’t want to hear it, he has never failed to send exactly what I need, exactly when I need it, until I finally get it. God is so patient with me. Through the journey I found peace. I found joy. I sing along with the mountains and hills of his greatness.
Lord, I can never thank you enough for captivating me with your love. You have shown me what real love looks like. Your infinite patience has shown me how I should treat others. I want to point to you as my source, show others what a life of freedom looks like, and then watch you change their life as you did mine. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than to see you at work in someone’s life. There is such enthusiasm when they share their story. It is the same light that shines when I tell mine. I am blessed because of Jesus. In his name I pray, Amen