Sometimes people have to experience a burn to know not to play with fire.
I always followed the rules. I did what I was told. I walked wisely. Since I was raised in a Christian home I was warned over and over. I heard the message, and I embraced it; I even turned around and taught others. I was running down the narrow path.
And yet, remember the words of Jesus? He said in Matthew 7, “few there be that find it.”
I started out with many runners beside me. I had many companions along the way and we encouraged and sharpened each other. We kept each other going, we challenged each other. I looked up to my Christian friends in many ways and they looked up to me. We grew together, served God together, made memories….
But we live in a bitter world. And growing up isn’t easy. And coming out of our sheltered homes to face the reality of it all was rough. Add to that the reality of an active enemy as well as the desires of our own flesh.
Friends, I watched companions fall one by one. I watched them compromise bit by bit. I saw them add the things of the world to their lives little by little. The ones I called out got angry and offended; they didn’t listen. And the others just slowly left me behind.
And finally I went too.
I got so discouraged. I was so lost. I felt useless and purposeless. I had no one close to pull me up. “Two are better than one” said the preacher. Looking back I know I could have found people to ask for help, but in the moment I saw no one with the same spirit. All I wanted was a friend like me, just one, who was trying their hardest to serve God and to stay separate from the world. But I couldn’t see one.
I looked at my old friends. I looked at how much easier it would be to just do what they were. I wanted my them back and I was willing to lower my standards to have them again.
I fell hard. I stopped reading the Bible and praying daily. I made a lot of unwise choices. And although many would laugh and tell me that the things I did “weren’t even that bad” I disagree. They seared my conscience. They scarred my relationship with God.
You want me to tell you something? A lot of times I was really happy. It was an easy life. It was an enjoyable one. But, my friends, I had no peace. I had no satisfaction. In the back of my mind, and in the pit of my stomach and in the bottom of my heart was a constant ache: an emptiness.
Because my only peace will forever be knowing I am right with God. For the last year I have rarely felt that peace because I was sinning, disobeying, compromising, and taking shortcuts. But friends, I’m back, by God’s amazing grace.
I felt the burn and I never want to mess with the fire again.