and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Luke 24:46-47 ESV
Growing up I don't remember being taught about Jesus' sacrifice. As I read the Bible more, I remember little blips I learned in Sunday school about Jesus dying on the cross, but I don't ever recall learning why. As I grew up I suffered a lot. Tragedy after tragedy, and I cried out to God only partly believing He was there, and I remember asking Him time and again why He would make me suffer so much. Why was I made if I was just going to have a horrible life, always getting hurt, and just being utterly consumed by a darkness I thought impossible to break out of. I thought that the only thing anyone could feel was darkness. I didn't understand why anyone would want to love let alone believe in a God who could leave me like that.
Fast forward many years when I learned why Jesus died. I'd not only been hurt, but I'd hurt a lot of people by that time and begun living life as if there was no God, while fighting an inward turmoil of knowing what I was doing was not right but not really knowing why. Everyone in my life at the time encouraged me to live in the way I knew in my soul was wrong, but I couldn't understand the feeling. I remember being drawn to the Bible after several years of being forcibly kept from it. I went to the local bookstore and several times I went through the Christian section. I would literally walk through it like I was just passing through. I did this probably a half dozen times before I finally built up the courage to actually look at the many Bibles available. Eventually I picked out an ESV Thinline Bible with a brown and blue cover, small and discreet, I thought. It was basic, easy to ready, and I spent every night secretly reading it when all company was gone and my kiddo was in bed. I don't think I told anyone I even had it for quite a while.
When I started reading the Bible, though, something immediately sparked in me. I began to understand what Luke was talking about. I began to learn that my suffering wasn't pointless, that the pull I felt to discover what I was missing was real, and I learned the most incredible truth - that Jesus died for me.
"What?" I remember being dumbfounded. I remember being so humbled that I cried. I remember being so enthralled by the words of scripture I finally understood that I wasn't crazy, that I wasn't alone, and I wasn't the only one who felt the way I did. I finally understood that the way everyone encouraged me to live was wrong and that I had a choice and an ally to do what was right.
I learned that I could be forgiven because Jesus died for it. Jesus died so I could escape the consuming darkness. Jesus died and rose to set me free. And not just me, ALL people, all nations, all of creation.
Jesus died and rose again three days later to defeat the darkness we are trapped and enslaved to before we come to know, believe and accept Him. Before I learned the truth I was in darkness, and when I picked up scripture and sought out the Truth I found more than I could have ever imagined - I found freedom, forgiveness, love and light. I found my Savior, and you can too.
Choosing Christ is a daily, moment-by-moment choice, and allowing Him to be our strength, our light, our guide - allowing Him to be our Savior every single day, living as though we've been saved, is really challenging. The suffering didn't all just fade away, but ever since I accepted Christ He has flooded me with light from the inside, He chased away the darkness of depression, anxiety, and healed me from the many years of abuse. He forgave me and released me from the power of sin and darkness over me, and as I continue to choose Him He continues to strengthen me against it. Life goes on, and I am stronger through it with my Savior.
Choose Christ today. Let His light fill up all the dark spaces. Accept the salvation He died and rose to give you, and let Him be your strength through the ups and downs of life ahead. Believe in Christ, His works on the cross, and resurrection from the dead for your sake and enter into His family today, forgiven and redeemed.
Dear Lord, I pray that you enter my heart today and forgive me of all my sins against You. Against You alone have I sinned, and I pray you will wash me clean of all unrighteousness. Forgive me, heal me, and strengthen me against the darkness I face every day. Today I choose to believe in Jesus Christ and accept Him as my Savior. I believe He died on the cross and rose again three days later to defeat the power of sin so that I may be forgiven and come into a relationship with You, God. I pray, Jesus, that You save me from the penalty of my sins, forgive me, and redeem me. Help me to live in a way that brings You honor and glory, giving praises to Your name always. Thank you Lord for this incredible gift. Amen.