I have been challenged in my own life lately. I often realize that as I work on growth in my personal life as a Christian, the more the growth, the greater the resistance.
The more I see positive change, the bigger the problems I have to deal with. It often feels like a tug-a-war.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”Eph 6:12
Does that not make you uncomfortable?
It certainly makes me uncomfortable. It explains the tug-a-war; the good versus evil. It explains the push-back when there is positive growth in my faith. It is not always easy to talk about evil and sin, but whether or not we are willing to see evil for what it is, does not change the fact that it is indeed real and a powerful force. Fundamental to the Christian faith, is acknowledging that evil and sin is real. It would be hopeless if it stopped there. Watch national news for one day, and you get a very clear picture of the broken, sinfulness of humanity.
But it does not stop there.
In the depths of despair and hopelessness, Jesus won. He defeated death and sin and brokenness and despair. Light shone through the darkness. There is power in our God, you just have to believe that He died for you and your sin and brokenness, and believe and accept that He is the One and Only God, and that once this life is over, that you will be with Him in heaven. There is hope and there is purpose to your life. “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty of our sins.” Romans 3:22-24
All this gives meaning to life. In the midst of a dark, broken, sinful and hurting world we can have hope, healing and meaning. In my college days, I turned my back on my faith. I did it willingly and purposefully. I was done with God and church and faith and Christians and I wanted nothing to do with any of it. My life spiraled downward and these became the darkest years of my life. My life came to a place where I no longer recognized who I was. My life was once so full of hope and purpose, was now broken and lonely and controlled by addiction and lies.
Call it divine clarity, but God allowed me to see myself and what I had become. I remember that day with perfect clarity.
And I hated it.
I hated who I had let myself become. In the absence of God, I made horrible decisions for myself.
If my story ended here, it would be hopeless. But it does not.
For the first time in years, I got on my knees and prayed. I do not always pray on my knees, but in that moment, it felt right. I cried out to God. I asked forgiveness for my decisions that led me to this hopeless place. I apologized for all the bad choices I made, all the lies, all of it.
And I experienced God’s grace in the most profound way, possibly the most profound way I have truly felt God in my life.
I did not deserve His forgiveness. I had done so much wrong. And yet God forgave me. He forgave all of it. The weight of my past that I was carrying around with me every day was suffocating. And in that moment of truth, of me admitting my brokenness and sin, I felt the heaviness and weight of my sin lift and disappear. The shame was gone. I could physically breathe easier.
That is grace. God’s grace. And it is available to anyone who asks.