I have known about Jesus my whole life. I accepted His offer of salvation and believed that his sacrifice on the cross was for me personally when I was a young boy. Even so, I couldn't seem to walk with Him like I longed to. I tried. I rededicated my life to Him over and over again. I cried out to Him. I longed to have a relationship with him that was real and life giving and produced the kind of joy I could see in the smiles and eyes of some of my friends. I knew that if I died I would go to heaven because of what Jesus had done for me. But I wasn't experiencing abundant life with Him. Not even close.
You see, up until a little over two months ago , I was bound up in chains of sin and shame. From a young age I struggled with hurts and secrets. I was drawn to habitual sin, and it ensnared me. Sin is enticing, but it always leads to pain. Eventually I tried just about everything to numb that pain. The cycle of sin and shame and pain repeated itself over and over in my life. I would turn to Jesus again and again, for a time, but my chains were wound tight and eventually I would fall right back to where I had been. Proverbs 26:11 says: As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. There was no greater fool than I.
I longed to be free of the addiction and sin that infected my life. It seemed so hopeless....impossible. I was 49 years old, addicted to painkillers and cigarettes. I had made choices that damaged my marriage and I feared if my secrets were revealed I would lose everything that mattered to me. I just couldn't seem to stop. I knew what Matthew 19:26 said: Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible." I wanted God to rescue me. I wanted healing. I begged God for help.
In September of 2016, Jesus Christ did a miracle in my life. I had been earnestly seeking for so very long. Yet I continued to fall, again and again and again. Until God allowed, in fact I would say He revealed, all of my secrets and I was broken. For the first time in my life, I was humble. I was truly ready to repent and to lay all of my sin and sorrow and shame at the foot of the cross and receive His mercy. I was desperate for His mercy. God, so full of love for me, not only poured out His mercy but His grace on my life. He met me in my brokenness and He healed me. He rescued me. He redeemed me.
He has taken away the desire for opiates and cigarettes. He has healed my mind. He lavished His grace upon me - which I did not deserve. Ezekiel 36:26 says: And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." That is what Jesus did for me.
I believe that Jesus broke my chains the day I became His so long ago. I just kept holding them around myself, not knowing I could lay them down. My road has been long, and I have brought so much suffering on myself. None of that matters compared to the indescribable joy of knowing Him and walking in the freedom He has given me. I am so humbled and so grateful. This will be the greatest Thanksgiving Day of my life so far. I want the world to know what Jesus has done for me. I know what He has done for me He longs to do for others. I am not special. May He receive honor and glory and praise for the miraculous work He has done in my life!
"Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave will be my song forever.
Seems like all I can see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me "son
Stop fighting a fight that's already been won"
I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off theses heavy chains
Wipe away every stain now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed
All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, "Child lift up your head"
I remember, oh God, You're not done with me yet
Because I don't have to be the old man inside of me
'Cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I've got a new name, a new life, I'm not the same
And a hope that will carry me home