“When you continue to embrace all that I teach, you prove that you are My true followers. For if you embrace the truth, it will release more freedom into your lives.” Jesus (John 8:31-32)
Jesus is speaking to new believers here. Just before, in verse 30, “many came to believe” in Him as He was speaking in response to the question “Who are you?”. These people wondered how Jesus could speak with such authority. Their spirits were stirred at the realization that this “Father” who sent Him was in fact, God. They accepted Jesus at His word because their hearts discerned truth as they listened, and they were given the gift of understanding. And then Jesus lays out the path to freedom. To simply continue in His word. To abide, dwell, endure, remain, stand, and not depart from the living voice of Jesus.
Belief in Jesus is a beautiful and profound first step. I remember the desperate desire for light in my darkness when I had come to the end of myself. My heart was ready and the utter relief of salvation lit up my soul. My entire being felt seen, known, and loved. I felt washed and clean. And for a time, I followed hard after God. I wanted to continue in my newfound freedom. But I did not remain there. For many years I teetered on the precarious cliff between living and embracing sin in my life, while my heart still yearned for Jesus. I wrestled with the cycle of wanting to do right, doing wrong anyway, and then being enslaved by shame and guilt. Unhealthy choices and selfish pride were my own undoing. I allowed my life to be ruled by the unrelenting current of being unintentional and just letting my life unwind without the disciplines of Jesus.
I do not regret the years leading to my latter, more recent ones because the struggles have given me the sort of pain that produces humility and compassion. Jesus wanted me to abide in His word and experience the freedom from sin He promised, because He loves me. But I made other choices, or failed to choose at all while languishing in indecision that brought much despair. Love wants the best for someone. God is love and Jesus is His tangible attempt to prove how true that is. He did not leave us to stumble around on our own. We have a well defined road map leading us to freedom and peace. All we have to do is follow the true Leader who will take us where our pure hearts’ desire wants to be. He will use our detours and wrong turns for His good, and we have the choice to decide how long we are to remain lost. Once we ask for directions, the right way is made clear.
Lord, I am grateful for this journey. Thank you for the grace to let me take the messy way. Your unchanging truth always leads me back to You. Help me to continue in Your word. May Your truth set and keep me free to love and share Your way with others. I am grateful for the community of believers You have surrounded me with. Help me to love the way you do. Help me to live in obedience and follow where You lead. In Jesus’ name Amen.