I had purposefully sinned.
I was a Believer. I knew God, spoke to Him regularly, and still made the conscience decision to turn my back on His words and follow the way of death.
Late that night I sat in my room, rocking back and forth, feeling like my stomach had been turned inside out. I was angry and hurting and I thought, for a moment, that there was no going back. No changing anymore. I had sinned irreparably and now I would forever be walking this road I hated.
But then I started saying the words that I had memorized as a small child. I whispered them, then wrote them out in my journal. I grabbed them tight with both hands, screamed them into my pillow.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
(Psalm 51: 10-12)
The next day I wrote a letter to a friend, confessing. My words were shattered pieces of shame. My heart shaking with the ugliness of my choices.
I still remember her soft answer, her compassion and overwhelming love. She spoke God’s words into my life. His words of forgiveness and restoration.
And following my confession, the restoration, something deep inside me changed forever. I had tasted my own unworthiness. As Pascal put it, I “licked the earth,” and now I knew the depths of my flesh. Not just as a foolish child who struggled to choose right, but as a mature adult who knew better on every level.
But I also knew the beautiful grace of God that comes near and wraps up all my brokenness and breathes life into death.
The choice to pray, to turn to God, depending on the blood of Jesus to cover me when I was coated in the stench of sin– it changed me.
It changed my focus and my heart and my goals for life.
I long for everyone to know this peace, this glory, this thing called grace.
In this world, we’re pretty good at creating excuses. I hear them a lot at this point in my children’s lives. All the reasons why it’s someone else’s fault they made the choice they did.
The reasons are as numerous as the stars in the sky.
But I don’t want my children to practice excusing themselves. I want them to learn to take responsibility.
And I know it’s scary. I get it. I’ve had to take responsibility for some pretty ugly stuff. Things I’ve said. Things I’ve written. Things I’ve done. Things I’ve allowed.
Sin reeks. It does. And it’s not fun.
But if you never accept responsibility, you’ll never get the chance to know grace.
So we practice. Just like my parents had me learn verses when I was little, verses that the Lord used to pull my heart back to truth, I teach verses to my children.
We can all quote I Corinthians 10:13. We practice identifying what we chose to do wrong (not what anyone else did), taking responsibility, and then looking back and asking ourselves, “Where did God provide a way out so I could stand up under the temptation to sin?”
The other day my son looked at me, his eyes wide, “Mommy, God always gives LOTS of ways out. I wish I’d learn to take them.”
He’s right. God always does. He gives us ways out so we don’t have to sin. There is no excuse.
But when we do sin, His grace is there.
We have to take responsibility. We have to confess. And then we taste this life-changing thing called grace.
It’s painful. Oh, of course it is. If it wasn’t, we’d just keep sinning so that grace would abound more. The pain, the slaughtering of pride that is required to acknowledge our sin, is there to remind us that grace isn’t cheap. Not at all.
Grace was given through agony and it is accepted through agony.
But we need it, so Jesus gives it, and that’s the glory of the gospel.
Oh, how thankful I am. How utterly, brokenly, thankful I am for grace.
And well, I just wanted to share that with you all. I just wanted to remind you. Because I write a lot of things on here. I talk a lot of God and His love and redemption and all the beauty and sorrow that I’ve tasted. But none of it, not one single part, would mean anything without Jesus.