I love Johnny Cash. I love his deep baritone voice, I love his real life songs. Unfortunately, it was at the end of his life that I really started to appreciate the man behind the name. It helped when Walk the Line came out - the movie about his and June Carter's life together. His honesty and forthrightness about who he really was, all he'd done to make a mess of his life, struck a chord (no pun intended) with me. He made no excuses for the life he'd led before he began to follow Jesus.
In his autobiography, Johnny said, "I guess I'm right where I'm supposed to be in my life right now; so I'm happy with that. I don't have any regrets, and I don't carry any guilt trips around. I shook all that off with forgiveness and soul-searching. Forgiving myself mainly."
I remember reading or hearing him say, can't remember which, but I'm paraphrasing, Johnny said something to the effect of the types of songs he wrote and sang after he surrendered to Jesus. He said he was waiting for God to give him spirituals to sing -more hymns - but God just kept giving him words to prison songs, cheating songs, etc.
Isn't that the way God works? We think that he's going to make us these nuns and monks when we surrender to him, but what does God do? Keeps us right where we're at! Sometimes God doesn't ever take us from the place where we met him and sometimes he takes us kicking and screaming. Every situation is different. Every person is different. Every encounter with the Holy Spirit is different.
There was a quote I came across a long time ago that sums it up best for me.
"Jesus gained the power to love harlots, bullies, and ruffians...he was able to do this only because he saw through the filth and crust of degeneration, because his eye caught the divine original which is hidden in every way - in every man!...First and foremost he gives us new eyes...
"When Jesus loved a guilt-laden person and helped him, he saw in him an erring child of God. He saw in him a human being whom his Father loved and grieved over because he was going wrong. He saw him as God originally designed and meant him to be, and therefore he saw through the surface layer of grime and dirt to the real man underneath. Jesus did not identify the person with his sin, but rather saw in this sin something alien, something really did not belong to him, something that merely chained and mastered him and from which he would free him and bring him back to his real self. Jesus was able to love men because he loved them right through the layer of mud."
Jesus sees pass your shenanigans. He sees way beyond your beliefs about yourself. The beliefs that say to you, "I'm not good enough. I've done way too many bad things. I've hurt too many people. Jesus could never change me."
Two things you need to know:
1. Jesus is bigger than you give him credit for.
2. Your sin is much smaller than you see it.
Yes, we've messed up. We've done some horrible, horrible things that the pictures in our minds try to rob our joy and leave us feeling hopeless. But that horrible thing(s) is not the end of your story. That horrible thing(s) is what God used to show you how powerful and how complete his love is for you. There is nothing, no thing too big that He has not overcome on the cross. No Thing!
So, I'm going to ask you this...When are you going to quit running? When are you going to surrender and give up the beliefs about yourself and what you think God thinks about you? When are you going to face the truth about your life and how God wants to free you from your past's pain?
Tomorrow? Next week? When you get settled in your new house? New job? New nursing home? When? When are you finally going to just give up and give in?
The air is clear where truth lives. The colors are beautiful where truth grows. Our lungs breathe beautifully when peace settles in. The sounds are heavenly. The lap of the ocean waves hitting the sandy shore beckon our hearts to taste and see that the Lord is good. His love endures forever. There is no end to his love for you.
Your past can either make you or break you. "When He lives within you, He wants to control our entire personality, our emotions, our intellect, and our will. As we yield our emotions to Him, He can make a wonderful transformation. He can remove all our fears, giving us His peace. He can give victory over jealousy, envy, and quick temper if we let Him. His abiding presence is perhaps more clearly seen in our emotions than any other part of our lives." (Unknown)
I pray you wave that white flag - today - and begin to live the life you were always meant to live. Who knows, you may never have to do anything different in your life than you're doing right now. You may be able to still write those drinking songs.
Jesus looks at us and loves us, right where we're at.