The Israelites fascinate me [which I’m sure you’re catching on to as this is my second post about them]. Read through Exodus and I bet you’ll find their history intriguing as well. Often I’m frustrated by their lack of faith or disobedience to God. While in Panama City Beach last week for Cru’s Big Break, I was reminded of how similarly I resemble the very behavior that frustrates me in the Israelites.
Before I was living my life for Jesus, I was a very different person. Most people who meet me now have a hard time imaging who I was before: drinker, pothead and flirt. [You can listen to my story here]
Being back in the drinking + party scene usually isn’t hard for me. I’m not tempted to take part in the festivities and the burning urge to do a keg stand no longer wells up inside. But there are moments when I think back on those memories and see them through rose-tinted glasses. Like the Israelites, my memory only surfaces the (illusion of) good times.
All I remember is the feeling of being the life of the party, uninhibited, laughing for hours on end, getting all dressed up, doing whatever I wanted in the moment.
How quickly and easily I forget. I forget the many nights spent over the toilet, dreadful hangovers the next morning, foggy memories of what happened or bruises that jogged my memory, unstoppable tears that would come from feeling so empty, longing to feel a lasting satisfaction, the heartbreak of another relationship/fling ending. I remember times of crying out to God, asking Him to help me get out of the life I was living, to free me from the bondage I’d allowed to ensnare me.
It took four years of this lifestyle for me to reach burnout. By the end of it, I was desperate for something real, that wouldn’t let me down or disappoint me. And that’s when I found my way back into the arms of Jesus, who forgave every sin and mistake I’d made and washed me white as snow.
I’d like to say it’s been smooth sailing since I made that decision nearly four years ago, but I’ve messed up a great deal since then. The beauty of Jesus? When he died on the cross he forgave all my sins--past, present and future. I don’t have to hold on to the guilt and shame that tries to plague me from the past any longer.
Now, this isn't to judge those who have or are currently living this way. My heart now longs to reach out to them, to give them the assurance that there is more, and that it’s far greater than anything they’re in now. I’ve talked with many who don’t feel that emptiness (yet) and I completely understand. I still love them just as they are. And more importantly God does.
God loves us too much to leave us in our sin, settling for less than His best. Jesus promises that He is the Living Water, and if we drink from this water we “will never be thirsty again.”
When you’re ready, He’s there, waiting to embrace you. In the meantime, watch this video that depicts the spiritual battle we’re in.
Lord, help me never look back on those days apart from you with fond memories, but rather to recall the emptiness that comes in being away from You. As I reflect on the Israelites, help me to remember the reality of my past so as not to turn back. I know in an instant I could be back in my old patterns of sin if I don’t cling to You. May I see my sin through your eyes, longing to flee temptation when it comes. Thank you for forgiving my sinfulness, changing my desires and restoring my relationship with You. Father, I love you and long to serve you with my life. I now cling to the Living Water, and You guarantee I will thirst no more.