January 22, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Life Beyond Regret, Part 1
"Sometimes there is a way that seems to be right, but in the end it is the way of death." Proverbs 16:25 ( New Revised Standard Edition)
Crisp leaves of red and yellow chased one another through the autumn sky, settling into a fiery blanket on the ground. Children were furiously climbing to the top of Monstrous Slide, a new addition to our church’s annual Fall Festival. Reaching the top, some children waved to those below while others seemed content to feel the wind brushing their hair, laughing nervously at the butterflies tickling their stomachs when they plummeted to the bottom. My four-year-old son was no exception. "That one, I want to go on that one," he insisted. So he went. His older sister carefully helped him up the swaying path to the top of the Monstrous Slide, brother to the famous Moonwalk. Just as they were reaching the platform from which to slide, James must have looked down and realized how high off the ground he was because he quit moving forward. His little body began tugging against the helping hands of his sister. I could see the agitation in her face and the fear in his, but there was no turning back. Oh, how I wanted to rescue my all too eager son! I felt helpless. Gently but firmly, his sister grabbed him and began the two-second free fall down this breath-taking slide. It was over almost before it began, but he was not happy!
The next morning we were discussing the previous night’s events and attractions. "Did the slide scare you a little, James?" I asked. "No," he replied. A few moments later he announced, "It didn’t scare me a little bit, it scared me a lot!" Well! I laughed to myself as I thought about the honesty in my son’s reply. I was reminded of a time in my life when I felt trapped and scared-not just scared a little bit, but scared a lot!
Lured by the promise of love and acceptance, the "monstrous slide" in my life was pre-marital sex. I insisted on taking a chance, and quickly found myself at the top of a very tall problem staring down – not at the ground – but at two blue lines. The pregnancy test was positive. Paralyzed by fear, I was faced with harsh reality and the "slide" suddenly seemed unattractive, its lure swallowed up by the consequences of my choices.
I was petrified! I didn’t welcome the idea of terminating my pregnancy. However, the idea of pregnancy scared me. Panic superceded rationale. With my stomach in knots, I called the clinic and scheduled the appointment. I knew I was violating my own moral code. Yet, the fear of exposure; the fear of someone finding out that I had gotten pregnant drove me to terminate my pregnancy. I was focused on my immediate needs without considering the future consequences. Such powerful emotions are difficult to explain and even more difficult to deal with.
I stepped through my fear and doubt, entering the front door of the clinic where the life of my child would end. When it was over I was promptly ushered out the back door - sent on my way - never to understand fully what had occurred to my body, heart, soul, and spirit during those brief moments on the sterile table of an abortionist. I bought the propaganda hook, line, and sinker; pregnancy termination is the easy way out.
I chose to cope with the pain and guilt by separating myself from my "experience" and numbing myself to the world around me. The easy way out wasn’t so easy anymore. Regret and shame engulfed me. Like an open sore, pain oozed from my soul. I longed for forgiveness, a chance to go back and undo what had been done. The old saying that two wrongs don’t make a right is so, so true. How could I have been so foolish?
I was a white-washed tomb, a newly painted house whose structure was slowly but surely rotting away. From all outward appearances I was okay, but on the inside the truth was screaming to be told, to be heard. "Help me!" "Oh, please love me. I know I’m not easy to love. I don’t deserve love but please, someone please…" I needed to be forgiven, my innocence restored. I needed to know Jesus. Instead of embracing Him, I permitted a roller coaster ride of emotions to lead me further and further away from the only source of true love - God. It was then that I experienced His stubborn love as never before and realized that His love can wash away the pain of regret and the stain of sin. (Part 2 tomorrow)
My prayer for today:
Father, I pray that You would speak Your truth to our hearts, especially to those of us who have chosen the way that seemed "right," but led to death. Lord Jesus, please bring healing and restoration to the broken and desolate places in our lives. Open our eyes to the truth, and give us the courage to revisit the past with a desire and commitment to be honest with ourselves. Help us to see the lies that are holding us captive. Bring freedom to our hearts for the glory of Your name.
Have you chosen a path that seemed "right" only to find out later that it led to death?
Ask God to open your eyes to the lies that you believe.
Be willing to take an honest look at the past and walk through the steps to healing. (I’ll write more about this tomorrow).
Choose in your heart not to live one more day in oppression or fear for something you have done in your past. Take it to God.
Has there been a time in my life when I needed Jesus more than anything, yet refused to turn to Him?
When have I chosen a way that seemed "right," but led to death?
Have I confessed my sin and sought forgiveness, or have I allowed the past to hinder my relationship with the Lord?
Am I experiencing complete freedom in Christ?
God’s wrath was settled on the Cross of Calvary. God desires for you to come to Him and lay everything at His feet. Jesus has already paid the price. Won’t you allow Him to bring freedom and victory into your life?
Psalm 51 Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and blameless when You pass judgment. Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You have crushed rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to You. Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of Your deliverance. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. For You have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then You will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar. (NRSV)
Psalm 59:1-2 See, the Lord’s hand is no too short to save, nor His ear to dull to hear. Rather, your iniquities have been barriers between you and God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
John 8:10-11 Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."
How to Live a Life of Victory by Mary Southerland
Intimate Issues by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus
Please call your local Pregnancy Care Center to inquire about a Recovery Support Group and Study.
Originally published Thursday, 22 January 2004.