I remember the night so well. The way I was cold and then hot, calm and then a weeping, sobbing mess. My nose ran uncontrollably. My chest ached and I just wanted to melt into the bed and disappear into a puddle of my grief.
This night wasn’t a sudden thing. No, it was a long time coming. The pressure of my emotions had been building for months as I kept telling God, “No. No. You don’t know what You’re doing. I don’t want to do it that way.”
Every time I heard Him say “Yes. Yes. I do know. And you will do it, even if you don’t know do it now,” I shrunk back a little bit more. For 18 months I’d been doing fine with my relationship with God.
Small group. Check.
Sunday mornings. Check.
Starting School of Ministry. Check.
Reading my Bible more days than not. Check.
I was an A+ box-checker and I felt safe doing it. So when God started to turn me around and upside down, I didn’t like it. More than one night, I sat in my bedroom and cried in the dark, alone. I couldn’t tell anyone what I was going through because I knew they’d tell me what I didn’t want to hear.
“Listen to God already, Krista. You can’t deny it anymore.”
But I didn’t want to. Days and weeks went by and I read the story of Jonah in a book for School of Ministry. I heard the still small voice of the Lord whisper to me, “What will your whale be?”
I didn’t care. I didn’t have time to think about my whale because I was too busy working hard to avoid it.
And then God met me when I was a crumpled, drained mess. He came to me as I cried ugly tears that burned my sunburned cheeks as they rolled down. Really, He had never left. I just had been so hard to Him that He had to wait until I was broken and defeated before He could do anything.
Wouldn’t it have been so much easier to stop where I was when He first called?
Instead, I ran… I hid… I waited until my heart would explode. In my sin of disobedience, God was longsuffering. I don’t know how He does it because I sometimes can’t wait one day for someone to realize they’re wrong and I’m right. Yet God counted the years until I would lose it. And when I did, when the pain and the sheer exhaustion of escape was too much to hold on to anymore, I heard Him again, over the whirring of my ceiling fan and the prayers of my friend as I cried in her arms.
I’ve been waiting, Krista. I’m so glad you’re here.
When your sin is disobedience, there are consequences. Too badly do I wish I could say that summer night was the end of this journey, but it wasn’t. Like a naughty child, I had to deal with the aftermath of my poor decisions.
The first two days after being utterly weak before God, my entire body was restless. I was grieving, hard, for a baby I never got to hold and for a girl who had died with her child. In the matter of one night, I was no longer pushing my anger away.
I was so angry I couldn’t even speak.
I wanted to punch things. Every nerve and muscle in my body longed for destruction. It made sense to me: I had destroyed a life and all I had now were hands and arms and feet and legs to destroy the things around me. I went for a walk but couldn’t be outside. I crawled back in bed, a warm German Shepherd curled into my body. I cried and I screamed into my pillow when no one was home. When an ambulance passed and the dog keeping me company began to howl, I wanted to howl with her. Her feelings – she could at least give them voice.
The pain was much better after those first few days, but it hasn’t left me entirely yet. It’s been nine months. But in those nine months, I have been obedient and God has met me at this place, in this valley as I try to move through the grief process.
Tonight my small group talked about what it means to be free from sin. I’ve been reflecting on it since I left.
I’ll never stop sinning while I’m alive, but I’m free from it.
Jesus’ death has freed me from the need to run from God and made is so I can run to God. It has freed me from the pain of my past. His death has given me the freedom to hear God’s voice and obey – the first time.
Being free from sin is sitting at the feet of Jesus, sobbing and crying out to Him to be with me when I am tired of buying into the world’s lie that strength is a virtue. Freedom from sin is knowing that God uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Knowing I don’t have to struggle on my own, independently, to hit God’s mark? Knowing that He is with me always and I only need to turn to Him and say “Lord, I cannot do this. Please do this”?
That, my friends, is freedom. The very idea of it being freedom goes against everything I’ve been taught, but to set down every hurt and burden and tiring thing and say, “Carry it for me” is freer than anything I could ever do, running from Him and carrying it on my own.
I know that I will sin before I fall asleep tonight. But I am not chained to sin. I am chained to God, the author and finisher of my salvation.
We are free, friends. It might have taken me year and tears to learn that, but we are free indeed.