I'm going to share with you a story.... One that was written in a book I read by Beth Moore. If I didn't know better, I would think she wrote it just for me. It is a true story.
Once upon a time there was an unhappy couple. She said it was because they were so mismatched. She married beneath herself. In actuality, they were not altogether different. After all, the reality is that baggage attracts baggage. One set may have looked more like a brown paper sack and the other like fine, leather Gucci, but it's all baggage.
She kept a cold heart toward him because she knew he had to be bad. Somewhere deep inside of her it was the very thing that had first attracted her, but she would never admit to such a thing. Yes, she knew he had to be bad. And just as she suspected, he was. His sins were many and grievous by anyone's standards. Terrible and as broad in consequence as a thundering black horizon. She caught him in his sin, and shame reverberated throughout the broken family.
He fell on his knees in repentance and begged God to save his life and spare his family. He did. Though the change in the man was obvious, some things never changed. She held on to her cold heart and wore her unforgiveness like a corsage of dead roses. It was her badge of honor to remind her children she would never forgive. She said it was for their sake.
He took his punishment for years, as did the children. If she had only known that the effects of her coldness, self-righteousness, and perpetual punishment were just as devastating to their trembling home as were his terrible sins.
One day she died. The chains of bondage draped a body that had finally turned as cold as her heart. The last remaining blackened petals on her corsage of dead roses fell to the floor. She died in her bitterness.
He grieved for awhile and strangely would have had her back- if he could have.
Then God did a most peculiar thing. In the man's aging years- years spent feeding hungry people and ministering to any who would have him- God brought him another mate. One whose heart was warm with affection. God blessed the latter years of the old man's life with joy and usefulness- yes, even after grievous sins.
His wife of many years never committed any such sins, yet she drowned in the gall of her own
self-righteousness- proud to the very last breath that she had never sinned against her family like he.
And he? Well. He lived happily ever after.
Powerful story, right? I pray that it speaks to your heart the way it has mine.... As I hear God calling me and asking me to lay my "Gucci" baggage at the foot of His cross, I have come face to face with who my Jesus is.... and what GRACE really does. Thank You, Lord for Your unending, immeasurable love for this daughter of Yours. The last thing I want is to die a bitter woman who You do not know and who never really knew You.
So in case you ever hear a story about a strange girl who sobbed uncontrollably on a United Airlines flight while reading a book..... it was Me. And this story still moves me to tears every time I read it.
Lesson #1: Happily ever after happens in the FREEDOM of life in CHRIST.
Lesson #2: Don't read a Beth Moore book on a plane. (on second thought, DO. it feels pretty good to not care a whit about what people think of you!)