This post will appear in the September edition of “Sweet News of Freedom,” a ministry newsletter that goes out to correctional facilities throughout the United States. Please pray for the people who will read this newsletter, that they will be moved by God’s word and by the hope that Jesus Christ truly is the Savior who brings hope to the hopeless and new life for all! “Like” us on Facebook for more information on Sweet News of Freedom and feel free to send any questions or comments our way!
I remember I use to lay awake for hours every night. My mind would be spinning, like a hamster on a wheel, thinking about all the “stuff” I had done. I wanted to do things differently, but it seemed like the mistakes of my past were so many I would never be able to climb out from underneath them. Addiction, debt, criminal activity, and broken relationships were stacked up against me.Every time I tried to change, things would be so difficult I would just give up and go back to my old lifestyle. I felt so alone.
Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever felt in your heart that desperate feeling of wanting to change, but the burden of your past just seems to heavy to move out of the way? I remember dreaming of a new life. I would imagine myself at my parents house for a holiday seated at my Mom’s dining room table. I would be laughing and talking with them, eating and opening presents. My niece who barley knew my face would be sitting on my lap, laughing with me and calling me “Auntie Jenn.” It was like I was watching the scene from outside a window. A woman longing to be the woman inside the happy memories, not sitting outside in the cold chained to a pile of garbage. I never believed I could be her. People like me did not get to have memories like that.
In my first treatment experience, I began to read the Bible. I believed in God, but I did not believe He thought much of me at all. Why would He? I viewed Jesus Christ, the Savior, the same way I viewed the scene with my family at Christmas. I did not think He had come for me, but rather I watched through the window as He came for others. I liked to read the red print parts of the Bible, the parts where Jesus was speaking because they gave me a moment of calm. For a few minutes, I would feel at peace. In one verse, Jesus tells His disciples: ”"I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Hah! Wouldn’t that be amazing? I thought. If only Jesus knew how huge my mountain was! If only He knew all the drinking, lying, stealing, cheating, disgusting my life had become! But something about that verse made me believe, just a little bit, that maybe it was possible. I put down a mustard seed. I let myself believe that tiny feeling of hope I felt in my heart when I read the words Jesus Christ had spoken all those years ago.
I never dreamed how far Jesus would take my mustard seed. By investing in Him daily, he has taken that small mustard seed and planted an entire garden. Not just a garden, a HUGE garden, full of more abundant life then I ever dreamed possible. It has not been a magical transformation, and has taken action on my part to trust in the faith I have found and keep doing the next right thing with my life. Not everything is perfect. But it feels like everything is possible.
Last week I was on vacation with my family. The same girl who use to imagine herself outside a window watching had been a part of every holiday, birthday, and family get together for the entire year. While vacationing I went berry picking with my niece and sister and law at a little farm nearby. While there I was in awe of God’s creation. Here were hundreds of plants sprouting from the ground, all producing a beautiful crop of ripe, red raspberries. I remarked to my sister in law how amazing it was that God could create something like this. And to think it had started with just one small seed.
I was marveling at this thought, when I heard the most beautiful sound in the world. A little three year old girl voice asked: “Where did Auntie Jenn go? Auntie Jenn!”
“I’m right here!” I said as my little niece, the one who at one time did not know my face, ran to me with a million watt smile on her beautiful face.
I did not have the ability to move away from my past life without the help of Jesus. I use to think He had not come to save somebody like me. But I learned that He had come to save somebody exactly like me. Somebody exactly like you. I no longer watch from the window, chained to my past. Instead I stand forgiven, in a brand new life, surrounded by the abundance of God’s love for me.
All because I invested one tiny seed of faith into Him.
“I tell you the truth. If you have faith even the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain ‘Move!’ and it shall move. Nothing shall be impossible.” (Matthew 17:20)