I intended to post this yesterday –
On this day, October 19, 1998, I surrendered – not from alcohol, but from myself.
It was the night I realized I really couldn’t clean myself up or do good enough –
It was the night I was at my most desperate –
It was the night I reached in to my purse to read a piece of paper a friend had handed me days before. On that piece of paper I read,
Romans 3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 10:9 & 10, If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
2 Corinthians 5:17, If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old is gone. The new has come. (That still gives me goosebumps.)
John 3:16, For God so loved the world (Stacey) that He gave His one and only son that whosoever will believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
I read those scriptures three times. I’ll never forget it. After months of trying to clean myself up before the Lord, making excuse after excuse why I couldn’t surrender, with all I had done and said, I just needed to understand what was expected of me.
The first time I read the scriptures I read them out loud to see what they said.
But just reading them didn’t save me. I was reading them with my head, not my heart.
I remember – my heart was beating. I was nervous and clammy. Even almost sick. After all, who in their right mind believes this stuff?
The second time I read the scriptures I read them with an understanding that God loves me. That He forgives me, and that I would become a new person. But was what sticking out the most was that Romans 10:9 & 10 verse. Believing it in my heart wasn’t the end of it – I had to TELL people?!? Geeze! But I knew this is what I was supposed to do –
So before I read the scriptures again, and before reading the prayer my friend had typed up for me, I said these words out loud –
Lord, if you are real, I can’t do this without you. I don’t want to be a hypocrite that sits on a church pew and is one way at church and another at home. I want to be real. I want to be transparent. I have been a fake and liar too long. My family is going to think I’m crazy and gone off the deep end. You are going to have to help.
I then read those scriptures – with my heart.
And then I read a prayer similar to thus,
I couldn’t believe it. The God I hated – the God I had called a male chauvinistic pig while standing in the middle of a bar – He wanted me. He had just forgiven me. And He was going to give me a new life! (I have goosebumps!).
When I stood up out of my gold 1960’s suede chair, I was no longer a thief, a liar, a drunk, or an adulterous woman –
When I stood up, I stood up a princess and the child of the most high King –
And I’ve never been the same.
Have I blown it many times? Absolutely.
Have I walked through trials since then? Absolutely?
But He has never left me. In those times of weakness He carried me. And He has used others to encourage me and used many circumstances to continue to grow me.
The end goal – to be more like Him.
One of the scriptures I learned in The Most Excellent Way that was so powerful for me is Titus 3:3-8.
I’ve paraphrased this for my life application -NOT changing the context but personalizing it. Please look this up in your copy of scripture.
At one time (I) was foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. (I) lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating others. BUT when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved (ME), NOT because of (ANYTHING) righteous (I) had done, but because of HIS mercy. He saved (ME) through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom HE poured out on (ME) generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by HIS grace, (I) might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
For everyone –
Not just me and not just because I did a lot of bad things.
There could be people reading this that have grown up in church, you know more Bible than I will ever know. You have sat under preachers that spoke God’s word. You go through the motions and think it’s fine – but you are only giving lip service – like I did the first time I read the scriptures – you haven’t surrendered her heart. Oh my friend, He is waiting. He loves you with an everlasting love – aren’t you tired of playing games?
Maybe though – maybe you are like I was. You want absolutely nothing to do with God. You can’t understand how a loving God could allow such things. You blame Him for all the wrong in your life. Or maybe you can’t imagine Him REALLY wanting you after all you have done – I know it doesn’t make sense – and I know you can find a million excuses – but this is real. Won’t you surrender? In The Most Excellent Way we used to say, “give it 90 days with Jesus” because we knew if a person REALLY surrendered they wouldn’t want to live life without Him.
I don’t know where you are in this thing called life, but what I need you to know is God so loved you . . . you . . . so much that He gave His only son for you in order for you to have eternal life.
The question is . . . Will you believe?
Father I pray for the one reading this and ask you to be their healer. Be their comforter. Be their all in all. I ask that you would reveal yourself to the one that is searching and the one that is holding back like I did. I ask you to put someone in their path to share the gospel with them today. I thank you for reaching down to the pits of hell and self destruction and saving me twenty years ago. Thank you for loving me through all my mess ups and baggage. Thank you for saving me and giving me a new life. Do it for someone else this very day I pray. Put someone in my path that needs your touch today. I love you, Jesus, Amen.