“When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities (regard useless idols) forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”Jonah 2:7-10
I recently received some news that was unsettling to me, and it caused me some sorrow and heartache. I was reminded of the ugliness of sin and the unfruitfulness that comes from the pursuit of it. You pursue the things you think will make you happy until you find that is has only caused misery and trouble. I often looked for ways to be happy or find contentment outside of God, and I figured I could do what I wanted and that my life would be more free with less restrictions. We think a life without rules, accountability, or boundaries is a life of freedom, but that is a foolish way of thinking. I dreamed of being able to do whatever I wanted until I found out it was not all that it had cracked up to be.
In the “freedom” times of my life, I pursued things that I thought were cool and things I saw others doing. I thought these acts of sin would make me feel happy, but inside I was miserable and felt guilty about the things I was doing. Although I chose to live my life away from God, it did not change the fact that I was a child of God. A truly born-again Christian cannot be happy long-term living a sinful lifestyle as it wars against the Spirit of God that indwells him. The Bible tells us that no one can serve two masters, and we cannot live for both God and the devil as we must choose whom we will serve. I found I will either serve my God or I will be a servant and slave to my sin. You will serve one or the other and even though you may think you are free, you are fooled by the devil and enslaved to him.
I recently went on a walk with my wife, and I told her that I do not know of a life outside of walking with Jesus Christ where I can have joy and happiness. I am not saying it is an easy life, but life is hard either way, and I would rather face life’s challenges with God than without Him. I regret that it has taken me so long to come to this conclusion, but I know it is the absolute truth. I know of nothing better than to walk with Him, and I know of no peace that this world can offer. King Solomon experienced all the things this life could offer, and could only conclude that is was all vanity of vanities. I have wasted years of my life pursuing things that could not satisfy, and I have fooled myself into thinking there is another way outside of God’s way.
I am not sure of the singular event in time when it happened in my life, but God slowly started to turn the lights on for me, and He began to open my eyes to the truth. He showed me areas of my life where I was wrong, and I had two options of what to do with what He showed me. Would I surrender my life to Him, or would I go on thinking I could live the way I was living? My sinful ways grieved my soul, and all I knew to do was confess to Him the sin in my life and name it by name to a God who knew it all anyway. Things started to change in my life, and I was relieved not to be playing “church” or “religion” any longer. I remembered the LORD, and He forgave me of all that I confessed unto Him. There is no peace like being right with Him, and I would not trade this for all this world has to offer.
Jonah came to the end of his rope in the belly of the whale, and he had enough of smelling like the sea. He had fresh fish to eat, but I am not sure he was in the mood to consume the fish he found there. He was in despair as he was suffering the consequences of his rebellious choices, and the freedom he sought was not freedom at all. He called out to the LORD as he sought forgiveness and restoration. It is one thing to be sorry for your sin, and it is quite another to ask for forgiveness and forsake the sin you were pursuing. We all have been sorry for being caught and for the consequences we suffer, but we must come before God with sincerity and true confession.
What are you pursuing today? Are you pursuing the things of this world in hopes you will find happiness? Have you come to the end of yourself, or will you keep running away in rebellion? Are you sorry for your sin but unwilling to confess and repent? It took Jonah to take residency in the belly of a whale to cry out in despair as sin always has undesirable consequences. What will it take for you? Will you turn around now and get right or will you continue in your sin? Salvation is not found in anything or any person outside the LORD. Repent and turn to Him today!