My amazing wife has faithfully written this weekly blog for nearly four years. During that time only one other person has done a guest post. So when she asked me to write this piece I was humbled and honored, as well as intimidated. I am alive today only because of my wife and I dedicate this to her.
Twenty five years ago, on a running trail near the Chattahoochee River, I prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, trusting only in His shed blood on the cross for my salvation, nothing else. After that prayer, I did not hear trumpets, nor did I feel any sensation overcome my body. I do, however, recall a really beautiful sky that greeted me at the end of the trail.
Of course the end of that trail was also be the beginning of a new journey, one filled with every challenge and joy imaginable, and some absolutely unimaginable. This is the Christian life, my life and yours too. James offers us this counsel: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
My wife prayed to receive Christ at 12 years old and I at 39. Our love-at-first-sight story reads like a mushy romance novel. We were ever so thankful for a small Baptist church family that welcomed us unconditionally as we began our married life financially supporting four young children from my previous marriage and then becoming parents to twin girls shortly thereafter.
It would be four years into our marriage when Laurie would first introduce me to the term, “Freedom in Christ.” Freedom has many different meanings, like what America celebrates on July 4, what a newly released convict experiences, or what a high school graduate or new retiree might describe. There is nothing, however, that compares to the freedom found in Christ alone. Sadly, for me it took 25 years to fully comprehend that Christ’s freedom can only be experienced through prayerful forgiveness of others, speaking the truth that sets us free, repentance for sin, and a radical transformation by the renewing of the mind.
Freedom in Christ Ministries (FICM) changed Laurie’s life when a FICM staff person (now friend) guided her through the Steps to Freedom in Christ in April of 1997. She started anew. For me, unfortunately, allowing two Christian brothers to help me finally work through my painful life story was something that did not occur until two-and-a-half decades into our marriage. My “Freedom Day,” as Laurie affectionately calls it, was just this month, March 20, 2018. Sincerely forgiving parents, step-parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, children, a former spouse, a former boss, former clergy, and a judge was just the beginning. I’ve learned not only the process or forgiveness, but more important than anything else, I walked away once-and-for-all finally coming to terms with the fact that my past does not define me. I shared a lifetime of junk and “cleaned house” with the assistance of two loving and caring men who did not condemn me for any part of my story as they led me through prayers of repentance.
I owe thanks for this blog title, My First Easter as a Free Man to Brian and Hal from Freedom in Christ Ministries who traveled and dedicated countless hours on my behalf readying me and facilitating my Freedom in Christ appointment. Beyond that, I owe a quarter-century of gratitude to my wife who never gave up on me even though I’ve given her every reason to do so. Thank you, Laurie.
What a great day to celebrate a risen Savior and a what a great day for this humble servant to be blessed to turn 64 years old today, the first day of the rest of my life as a free man.
Picture Explanation: When your husband writes a post like this, the only pictures that work are rivers and trails, fireworks and sky. Being rushed along in the rapids of life and hiking on rocky terrain describes our life together, but we have lived it all under the canopy of sky. On Easter morning, Jesus rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. The three-in-one God is in complete charge, always accessible, always watching, chasing every human being with His love until some surrender their lives into His trustworthy hands through Jesus. After that comes freedom and the Holy Spirit power to no longer live a life enslaved to sin. Hallelujah.
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