In The Weaving of a Beautiful Love Story, I shared the greatest story ever told. Today, I would like to share my own. My prayer is that it will inspire you through reflections in your own story.
At the age of 12, I met Jesus. Growing up in The Baptist Church I knew three things:
1- I was a sinner,
2- As a sinner I was going to Hell if I didn’t know Jesus,
3- Going mixed swimming was a sin. (Not true btw.)
I memorized the Roman Road and John 3:16. And out of a need to cleanse the guilt and shame I felt in my own sin, I was baptized four times (yes, you read correctly.)
I didn’t understand grace, the Father’s love nor the fact that the blood of Jesus covered my sin: past, present and future. But, I was already forgiven! I didn’t understand that The Holy Spirit convicts me to live a better life, whereas the enemy prods me with guilt and shame for the bad things I have done.
Is this you? Do you too feel riddled with guilt and shame? Friend, Your Heavenly Father does not want you to feel the sting of sin. In fact, He hates sin, because sin separates us from Him. This is the very reason He sent Jesus, so that you too could be reconciled to Him in the great Love Story He wrote for you.
God knew my weakness, the enemy did too. And while the still, quiet and faithful voice of The Holy Spirit encouraged me to find my strength in Him; I would instead listen to the loud voice of the enemy who would say things like: “You’re ugly”, “You’re not good enough”, “You’re too loud”, “See, they don’t like you”, “You’re fat”, “Look at what you did, and you call yourself a Christian.”
Dear friend, can I tell you that the insecurities, the fear, the anxiety, the worry were crippling. They cost me peace, friendships and the confidence of walking with The One who created me for a full life with Him by my side. But know that these are NOT by-products from God, but in fact are from the enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy all that God calls His own.
I would love to go back to that young girl and tell her that, “You are beautiful”, “Jesus said that you are worth His love”, “Your passion is a gift from the Father, use it for His Glory”, “Jesus loves you so much that He died for you and He placed others in your life to encourage and lift you up”, “The Father says you are fearfully and wonderfully made”, and “God has a purpose and a plan for you, His precious daughter.”
Do you too need to hear these truths? In my own journey, I have learned that not much has changed. In fact, the enemy is louder than ever. He is coming at us with great fear and trepidation, from every direction. We need to hear the truth given to us by The Father in His Word!
Let’s drown out the enemy’s lies with The Father’s truth of GRACE AND LOVE!
The enemy would seemingly win when at 18 years old I told God that I didn’t need Him. I could do life just fine on my own. I wanted independence more than anything. I didn’t want to live with the rules and regulations that The Bible taught. Once again, I didn’t understand that the commands given to us in the Bible are not rules, they are gifts given to protect us from the lies of the enemy and his desire to destroy God’s children.
So, I walked away from The Church.
Unfortunately, we see this quite a bit in our society today. People walking away from the Church because they feel condemned and don’t know the grace and love of the Father. Is this your story too?
In God’s great Love Story, He uses parables and other’s experiences to relate to our own. Tucked into God’s great Love story is a parable called The Lost Son, aka The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. I would like to share this story as it so relates to my own.
In v11-12, Jesus shares with His disciples that there were two sons, the younger of the two told his father that he wanted his share of the estate. This was very unusual in this time, and showed the immaturity of the younger son. But, in v12-13 we see that the father respected his request and the son left.
Stupid is as stupid does, that was me too, I left. I didn’t have much, mind you, but I had a plan to be successful. I would work hard and be rewarded for my work ethic. The world said, “Just do it”, so I did it. Yes, I showed a great deal of immaturity, just like the younger son. But my Father respected my request.
In v13-14 of Luke, we see that the son squandered his wealth and after he spent everything, a severe famine came over the country, and he began to be in need.
At the age of 21, I declared bankruptcy. I was devastated as the enemy’s voice was louder than ever, “You thought you could do it all on your own, didn’t you?” I didn’t take into account that life happens. Once again, I missed the still small voice of my Father reminding me of His presence and His help in time of crisis. All I could hear were the lies of the enemy as he called me a failure.
Can you relate? Do you hear the voice of the enemy louder than that of your Father? May I suggest to press in, seek The Father’s truth and forgiveness and allow Him to guard your heart from the lies that the enemy tells.
In v15, the young son hires himself out to feed pigs. In his great hunger, he begins to eat the pods that the pigs were eating.
Once again, the guilt and shame of my consequence faced me. I would find myself wrapped in a cocoon within a very deep hole. Just like the son, I could only see around me, the depression, the health and financial issues would take over.
I forgot to look up.
In v17, Luke tells us that the son “came to His senses,” as he decided to go back to his Father. We don’t know how much time passed when the son decided to return, but in my own life, it took me 15 years to return. I struggled with depression, insecurity, anxiety, fear, and worry. Just as in my youth, the cost of these were great. In addition to bankruptcy, I suffered from a brain tumor, a rare disease, and habitually bad financial decisions.
They say that hindsight is 20/20, I can see now that by living a life with Christ at the center, by living according to the precepts He has given, I can live the life to the full that He has promised. This isn’t to say that I would never have struggled, but our Father has promised us that we will never be alone, that He will comfort us. That His peace covers us. His Love fills us and His Grace is always for us. Oh if I could just have shared this with 18-year old me!
The happy ending to this beautiful story is found in v20, when the son returns to his Father. Luke tells us that, “While he was still a long way off, his Father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
At 35, I would receive the Holy Kiss of my Father through a re-dedication to Him. When I turned back to Him, He ran to me, just as He did to the lost son. The lost years of insecurity, fear, worry, depression, and anxiety would slowly be unwrapped from the enemy’s cocoon of guilt and shame as The Father called me found. And the eyes of my heart were opened to the blessings my Father has given me: Jesus, My husband, my children, my family, my Church family, my career, and the opportunity to serve as His Hands and Feet.
I realized His Love was so much greater, so much bigger and it was mine.
Would you too like to receive the Love of the Father through salvation? He is waiting with open arms. Pray this with me:
Father, I know I have sinned and am in need of your forgiveness. Today, I place my faith in Jesus and what He did on the Cross. I ask you to save me. I give my life to you and receive your love. Thank you for coming into my heart and giving me new life. Thank you for the promise of Heaven. That you for hearing my prayer. AMEN
“We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and now is found.” Luke 15:32
I would love to hear your story! Please feel free to leave a note in the comments below or you may email me at email@example.com.