Free to Start Anew

Let me tell you about one of my dear friends from college…Laura.

Laura lived in a small town with parents who were morally sound and family oriented. She went to church from her earliest remembrance and was baptized when she was 12 years old. In high school, she began dating Barry. After Laura went off to college, both of Barry’s parents died. He was lonely and missed the close-knit family he had once enjoyed.

After Laura’s first year of college, Barry began talking marriage. He had not gone to college and wanted her to come home and be his wife. Laura was torn, but made the decision to marry Barry and continue working toward her degree.

Laura and I held hands and prayed together before she walked down the aisle. It was a beautiful day as I stood with her and the two were united as man and wife. But after the wedding comes the marriage–something that neither the 19-year-old Laura nor Barry was prepared to face.

After five years, Laura was bored with the marriage, restless in her job, and disappointed in her husband. While working in a medical office, Bob, a salesman for an international medical supply company, took on their account. Bob was older and lived what seemed like an exciting lifestyle. The relationship started as friendly bantering, and progressed to enticing flirtation. Laura found herself looking forward to Thursdays—the day the rep made his weekly visits.

A touch here, a lunch there, and soon an affair ensued. Laura packed her bags, left her marriage, her job, and her hometown to move to greener pastures. But the greener pastures weren’t so green. Thorns infested the relationship.

Bob wasn’t interested in anything long term. Laura was just a young plaything he toyed with on weekends. What promised to be an exciting life away from small town America, away from a mundane, monotonous marriage, turned into a deep, dark pit of regret and remorse. Laura discovered Bob wasn’t anything special. He was just someone different—a diversion. And she was his flavor of the month.

After her divorce was final, Laura was left all alone in a strange town. “What have I done?” she cried.

Laura’s husband remarried and put the broken pieces of his life back together. Laura, on the other hand, was just broken.

Laura turned away from our friendship when she headed down the road to self-destruction. But after she came to her senses, she called me full of remorse and sadness. I welcomed her in my arms, held her close to my heart, and brought her to my hometown. My husband and I found her a job, helped her get her finances in order, and directed her to a great Bible-based church. That’s what it looked like on the outside, but here’s what really happened.

Laura, in her own words, stood before Jesus like the woman caught in adultery. She felt the stares of her accusers and recoiled at the rocks that would surely fly. In her own mind, she stood naked and ashamed before her community, her childhood church body, and her lifelong friends. But more importantly, she stood in shame before Jesus.

“I didn’t think God would forgive me,” she began. “I had hurt my family, my husband, and my witness. What would God want with someone like me?”

“Laura,” I began, “we are all sinners. We are all saved by grace. None of us deserves it. That’s what makes grace, grace. You made a terrible mistake. But so did the woman who the Pharisees brought to Jesus who had been caught in adultery. What did Jesus do with that woman? What did He say?”

“He told her to go and sin no more.”

“Exactly. He told her to leave her life of sin. That doesn’t mean that she never sinned again. But we can safely believe that she left that lifestyle, that sinful relationship, and began a new life. That is what Jesus will do for you. That is what He does for all of us.”

God promises: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV). Another translation uses the words “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (NASB). I love the picture of God washing away all our sins, erasing the list of offenses, throwing our sins into the deepest of seas. All gone.

Laura did begin again. She repented of her sin, immersed herself in Bible study and ministry, and began a new life totally committed to the One who forgave her and set her free from condemnation. And that my friend, is what Jesus does for each and every one of us who come to Him with a repentant heart ready to start anew.

After Laura began her new life, she followed hard after God. She was so grateful for a chance to start again, and she gave her life to serving and honoring Jesus.

Sometime during her fifth year at her new church, she met a wonderful Christian man, Peter. After they were married, Laura and Peter committed their lives to serving God wherever He led. After a missions trip to Eastern Europe, they both felt God calling them to return on a more permanent basis. Now, for more than 15 years, Laura and Peter have been serving God in Eastern Europe, planting churches and loving people to Christ. She has agreed with Paul who wrote, “This one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13). But friend, it is a choice.

See, God doesn’t just set us free from our shameful past. He sets us free to an exciting future. And Jesus showcased the woman caught in adultery in John 8 and my friend, Laura, to show us how.

If this gives you hope, leave a comment thanking God for grace!

Today’s blog was adapted from my book, How Jesus Broke the Rules to Set You Free: A Woman’s Walk in Power and Purpose. In this book we study each woman Jesus encountered in the New Testament and see how her story is your story. Jesus came to set women free! In a day when they moved about as shadows in the culture, rarely seen and seldom heard, Jesus broke the cultural rules to heal them, save them, and then send them. He risked His reputation to save theirs…and yours. The book comes with a study guide and is perfect for women’s Bible study groups. But be prepared, you’ll fall in love with Jesus all over again. Click on the book to watch the book trailer. That is a blessing in itself! Right now, this book is on sale for 33% off.

 

 

 

 

 

11 Responses to Free to Start Anew

  1. Ifeyinwa August 30, 2017 at 5:00 am #

    Thank for today’s message. This message is all I need today. I have been so depressed and frustrated since my husband left me for another woman. I felt worthless and no good. Tried to get over him on my own and made several mistakes and it was difficult to forgive myself. I sincerely thank you for this message.

  2. Wendy August 30, 2017 at 7:32 am #

    Thank you for this encouragement , this could of been written about my daughter who is still struggling with the scarlet letter on her chest. I hope to share this with her.

  3. Melissa August 30, 2017 at 8:17 am #

    Thank you for your Amazing Grace, Lord!!

  4. Gale Rice August 30, 2017 at 11:58 am #

    I Thank You God for Grace!

  5. Susan August 30, 2017 at 12:28 pm #

    Thank you God for your unwaivering grace.

  6. Carolyn Williams August 30, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

    I love stories of past failures because I am like Peter, often impulsive. I mean well, but do not always follow up. I need to work on this flaw. I also want to please my Lord, but, like Paul, the very thing I don’t want to do is the very thing I do. I am zealous at times, and despondent at others. I try and fail, and sometimes get back up and try again…then I have suffered Major Depression several times and I came up from the pit of despair by God’s Power ALONE. My brother committed suicide when he was 13, my one and only brother who was the baby of our family. My parents lost our oldest sister to what they used to call “crib deaths.” I never knew her, she was only 6 weeks old and my mother found her in the middle of the night. My sisters name was Doris Faye. My parents had to go through a funeral with a baby casket. IF you have ever seen them, it is the saddest of all funerals. Knowing all your dreams for the child will never be fulfilled in this life. I have an older sister, Becky, whom I love dearly. She has watched out for me my “whole” life and we are so close in age, we “feel” like twins. Each of us have never known what it would be like to be separated. She has celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary and my husband, Ben and I are coming up on 46 years. Our father died at 53 with lung cancer. My daughter, Angela, was 18 months at the time. She is now almost 42. Your message brought back memories of how much I have struggled to stay afloat. My sister and I took care of our mother for the last 3 years of her life. When she died the day before Thanksgiving almost 3 years ago, I went into the darkest and deepest depression of my life. I wanted to die with her. I am a retired RN and have worked in Med Surg, Hospice, and Mental Health for the last 17 years. I graduated Nursing 1999, at the “young” age of 49. I say, “it is NEVER” too late as long as you are “breathing.” Thank you so much for your inspiring stories and your expertise at “painting” a picture with your words. May God reward you mightily for “sharing and caring.”

  7. hermania bell August 30, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

    It took me years to fall in love but the sad the I gave i too quickly. I felt what I wanted to feel. I saw what I wanted to see. Learning I was not in a relationship was a very hard blow. I was just a found out that I was a means to an end and it hurt me to my core. I now know to put God First in anything I do and say. I stop ask why did this man do this to me! God will take care of the righteous. I will not be that sad person ever again.

  8. Ginger Hubbard August 31, 2017 at 9:12 am #

    Sharon, what a beautiful testimony to the redemptive work of Christ! I love this! Praise his Holy Name for all that he is and all that he does!

  9. Michelle White August 31, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

    Thank you for sharing! I am going though the same struggles. I have been married for 17 years and seem like I am missing out on life. I am believing God will fill the void and that I will be satisfied with my life as a wife and mother.

  10. Carol R. Miller September 8, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    Thank you Sharon. I love the way you write. God has blessed me with a wonderful life, one husband, one son, one daughter with one spouse each, we are so blessed; and most importantly ONE SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD !
    HE IS AMAZING AND STEADFAST IN HIS LOVE AND GRACE.John14:6

  11. Elsa September 9, 2017 at 7:56 am #

    Thank you for this beautiful story of redemption I been separated for 7yrs Have not seen my husband all this time don’t want to see him and because of my finances can’t get the divorce first husband I walk away to much pressure put on me after my dad passed taking care of brother n sister so much abuse from them and my Son n daughter are hurting I can’t get close to them I think of all the heartbreak I did to them, I became Christian after all this n marry a man that love me but I use him to run away from the past but after 15yrs of marry,he was done,in all those yrs, JESUS became the love of my life,I started healing process for me n felt in love with the one who created me,but now he took me back home to heal n have a relationship with my adult children need prayer for this!! Temptation we have to run from it u are right It’s a choice! Like his word said in Deut life or death U chose thank you

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