It is the same in our lives. Before I became a Christian I lived the way I wanted to. I was driven by the winds of life and let it take me wherever it led. Those were dark and painful paths. I look back and think how did I get that far down a road I swore I would never be on in the first place. When you are a child of alcoholics you want so badly to not go there. I was smart, got great grades, but was shy and isolated. That set me up for a lot of the behavior that followed. I had no positive role models and no real idea of who God was. He was a fairy tale that came out on Easter and Christmas...Ho, ho, ho and thanks for the Easter basket. It is easy to see now, hindsight being 20/20 how my parents got to where they were. My dad being a homicide detective, seeing the worst that the world had to offer. He seemed hard on the exterior, but inside he was just a good-hearted, compassionate man. He drank to escape what he saw every day. Then it became a habit that was so hard for him to break. My mom came from a life where her mother drank and she had things happen to her that shouldn't happen to a child. Burned horribly in an accident in the kitchen when there were no adults around. The aftermath of that and I think just a quiet insecurity led her to believe that drinking and valium seemed a safe place. So no wonder I followed in that deeply rutted path they had left for me. I'm not blaming them, not at all. I made my decisions, no one forced me to live that way.
Honestly I don't think I ever really thought about how I was living until I met my husband Jim. I partied and one day rolled into the next. I used to get him to go to the bar with me and my friend, but it just didn't hold the same appeal. Jim was a Christian, maybe a bit away from the Lord at the time, but he had that foundation, that faith. He never preached at me. He never told me how bad I was; everyone else did that for him. I remember one girl we worked with telling him that I was crazy, stay away. God does often work in the quiet. In the background it seems. There came a day where my life started to feel a little empty. Jim took me to church. Man, I wanted to run. Why? The conviction of God was putting a mirror in front of me. I started to see who I was and what I had been. My heart ached. But I didn't know what for. How do you grasp what you have never seen? What you have never heard of? It is like living in a dirty slum and wanting so badly to move to the mountains or the beach, but you have never even seen a picture of them. You just know that there is something else out there. Something beautiful and clean. When I finally met Jesus, oh how He brought me to that beautiful place. When I surrendered my life to Him, when I accepted His love and His sacrifice, it felt like I had come home, but to a home I had never known before. Where my childhood home had been filled with anxiety and uncertainty, this home was filled with light and love. Animal rescue organizations use the term "forever home" when they talk about adopting their dogs and cats. Jesus gave me my forever home. I was a lost, abandoned and frightened creature and He came and rescued me from myself. He rescued me from the streets of shame and from that highway to hell that I was on. He adopted me as His own. I would never be the same.
So why was it that years later I somehow got spiritual amnesia? Falling back into those old habits. Drinking again, leaving my kids with a babysitter and going out raising hell. But you know, it wasn't quite as fun as before. Or maybe I wasn't as oblivious. I would wake up in the morning with a hangover and with the conviction of the Holy Spirit hanging over me. But just feeling convicted wasn't enough. I had to make a decision to return to God and I really didn't want to. It's like eating cookies on Thursday and not getting on that the scale on Friday. Oh well, may as well eat cake too. I was on a roller coaster ride and one day it was exhilarating, the next I was nauseous.
I realize now that conviction is a gift from God. It is Him sometimes gently nudging, sometimes taking a 2x4 and hitting us over the head. Hey, you! You're on the wrong path. Hey! Remember how great it feels to be in communion with Me? To be in close fellowship with Me? Remember how it feels to be loved and cared for? Walk away from that slum. Walk away from Shame Street, filled with broken dreams and littered with good intentions. Run, yes run back to Me! I know you're tired, I know you're discouraged. I know it seems like home is so far away, but it isn't. Home is one decision away. It is one step away. Here it is, through this narrow gate. Here it is down this compact path. You turned to Me before, now re-turn to Me and we'll walk this journey together. I am home, come unto Me and find your rest.
I have been back on that path with Jesus for quite a few years now. It feels so good not waiting for the other shoe to drop. It feels wonderful knowing that I don't have to worry about what the scale is going to show. He fixed the scale when He died on the cross. He balanced the weights and now the scale holds no fear or anxiety for me. No matter if it's Tuesday, or Saturday, no matter how 'righteous' or 'spiritual' I feel, I don't have to worry about getting on that scale, because He settled it, once for all. Now when I feel that subtle prodding of the Holy Spirit, when I may have strayed a bit off course, when I am in danger of wandering off that ridge, it isn't apprehension or dismay I feel. I feel loved and cared for. I feel safe and directed. I see the evidence of who He is and all He has done for me. I step away from the sugar and walk hand in hand with the bread...the Bread of Life.