All my life I had struggled with being late. Believe me, it was a chronic problem. I can even remember running down my subdivision street, chasing the school bus fairly often in elementary school as a result of standing in front of the bathroom mirror too long and not leaving my house in time.
The Apostle Paul said,
20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5:20-21 (NLT)
The following story is my personal story of how God’s amazing grace freed me from this life-long bondage that I had struggled, for decades, to free myself from.
One afternoon I was on my way to visit my Grandma and once again I realized I was going to be late. (Sigh) I started to feel guilty like I did every time I ran late, but that day something different happened.
My wonderful Helper, the Holy Spirit, reminded me that I couldn’t keep fighting this sin in the same way I had always tried to before, by my own human efforts. He encouraged me not to feel bad about myself and instead, remember what was true about me…in Christ.
Thankfully, I heeded His advice and said to myself, “No Sandra, you’re not going to allow the devil to bury you under guilt and condemnation any longer. That was the old Sandra (pre-grace revelation Sandra). The new Sandra doesn’t do things the same way. Remember, you know something now that you didn’t know before.”
It wasn’t like I was sweeping this issue under the rug and ignoring it or saying to myself, I can do whatever I want now that I’m living under grace. No! In fact, I began to pray and tell The Lord (while driving to see my Grandma) that I did not want to continue being late everywhere I went, but…
In the past, each time I realized I was going to be late somewhere (which was almost always), I would start feeling terrible about myself and at the same time anxiously try to concoct a plan for how I could get free from this life-long struggle. (self effort)
Fearful thoughts would flood my mind such as, I have to stop being late everywhere. I gotta get free from this bondage. This is terrible. I cannot keep doing this. And at the same time I had self-talk like this, I will never get free from this. There’s no hope for me. I try so hard but it never works out. I’m a failure.
I wonder if maybe you can relate to this inner dialogue in some area of your own life?
If so, please keep reading because this story is about to turn for the good!
Thankfully, on that glorious day in the Fall of 2012, the Holy Spirit showed me the practical application of grace in my life. That day He led me to think and say (out loud), some very different things than I had ever said before.
I recall saying, “God, I thank you that I am loved unconditionally by You even though I am on my way to see my Grandma and will be late. You love me just as much as if I was not late because You love me simply because I’m Your child. Your love for me is not based on my works.”
“I thank You God that I am righteous in You. I am not less righteous right now because I am running late and I wouldn’t be more righteous than I am right now if I was on time. My righteousness is in You, completely separate from what I do or do not do.”
Of course I began to relax the moment I started speaking these things out. The anxiety began to subside. I could breathe.
I went on, “I thank You God that I am forgiven right now because of the blood that Jesus shed for me on the cross. I’m not less forgiven because I’m late. I have complete forgiveness in Christ Jesus!”
Interestingly enough, I went through this same scenario about three different times when I was running late and after about the third time I clearly recall that something changed in my heart.
I told my husband, “Steve, something has changed in me. I suddenly have this strong desire to walk in love with people in this area by being on time. I want to walk in love with you and the girls (my family) by not making you feel as if we are rushing out the door all the time and I also want to walk in love with the person waiting for me to meet them by being on time for them.”
I don’t mention having done this three times as some sort of magic number, but simply to show you how fast God freed me from a lifelong problem that I could never, not with all the trying in the world, free myself from!
Once I gave up on my own human efforts and threw myself on the grace of God – once I decided to receive His grace right in the middle of my mess instead of waiting until I had my mess cleaned up so I could ‘deserve’ His grace, the bondage was annihilated.
And did you notice that I went from following a law – I have to stop being late everywhere. I gotta get free from this bondage
to following this new commandment that Jesus gave us:
34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-35 (NLT)
That’s what a life lived under the waterfall of God’s grace does for us. It helps us live with the law of love as our guide!
How many Christians will not receive God’s grace unless they think they deserve it? I did this for decades. But guess what – that’s not grace! Grace is God’s unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor – period, end of the conversation.
After God’s grace produced this change in my heart I started being on time. Of course, I wasn’t perfect, but let’s just say, where I used to be late 90% of the time, I would now arrive early 90% of the time!
This freedom I enjoy was and still is simply amazing to me to see how quickly and easily God’s grace changed me from the inside out. I experienced heart transformation and it was so much better than the behavior modification I had going on for so long. I could hardly believe what was happening to me after all those years of struggling to get free.
When you and I receive God’s grace by faith, it produces His power working in and through us! This is what happened to me.
As I decided to stop condemning myself and concocting my own plan for freedom through self-effort, and instead placed my trust in the unmerited favor of God, His power went to work in my heart. As a result, instead of me feeling like I HAVE to stop being late I would think I WANT to walk in love with people by being on time. God’s grace changed my have to into a want to and His grace can do the same for you in any area of your life.
I purposely meditated, right in the middle of being late, on the following Biblical truths:
1.) God’s love has not changed toward me one bit.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
2.) God is not going to take back the gift of righteousness He has given to me because I sinned.
For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:17 (NLT)
3.) God is not charging the sin of being late to my account because He has already completely forgiven me of all of my sins – past, present and future sins – according to the riches of His grace.
He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. – Colossians 2:14 (NLT)
As I meditated on these truths and spoke them out, right in the middle of my sin, I was changed!
My friend, this is what receiving grace looks like!
Look at this verse:
Galatians 3:10 (AMP)
10 And all who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction, for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the Book of the Law and to practice them.
Now look at this great news:
Galatians 3:13 (AMP)
Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified);
These verses are amazing because how many times do we look right past what Jesus did for us to our list of rules and regulations instead? No wonder I wasn’t getting free before I realized I could receive what Jesus had already done for me.
Yes, I had believed in and received Christ the day I was saved at the age of 8, but not long after this I turned away from focusing on my relationship with Him and focused completely on living this thing out in my own strength instead. Bad idea. I was doomed to disappointment as it says in Galatians 3:10 and believe me, that’s exactly what I was experiencing. I was often disappointed in myself.
But not anymore, thank God!
Interestingly enough, several different times since God initially set me free in 2012 (including recently) I have begun to be late a lot once again. Each time I started to stress about it anxiously saying things to myself similar to what I had in the past, “I can’t start being late again, etc,” but thankfully God helped me and sent me back in the right direction. I recall Him speaking this to my heart, ‘No Sandra, you don’t have to live this way. Just get right back to believing in the grace I’ve provided for you.’
I did and guess what happened? I started getting places on time again!
Each time this has happened I’ve noticed that I remembered what actually frees me faster (God’s grace) which means I caught the devil in His lies and stopped believing them more quickly.
If I ever fall back into being late again I think I’ll just ignore the devil all together. Why should we let him waste our time. Freedom belongs to us…in Christ Jesus.
Yay – now we know the answer. We don’t have to be afraid of getting trapped in sin again. If we falter in the future, we know exactly what to do…trust completely in Jesus!
In addition, as I have said in other blog posts, when we get out from under guilt and condemnation and lay down our self-efforts, we are then able to clearly hear from and be led by the Holy Spirit as to any Spirit-led actions He wants us to take to assist us in overcoming areas of sin in our lives.
I have lost count, at this point, of the number of freedoms I have received by God’s Superabounding Grace.
My friend, as a Believer in Jesus, freedom living is your reality in Christ Jesus! Believe it and you will live it!
If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!