The biggest single obstacle blocking any individual’s progress on the path to freedom will always be themselves. Any person who has difficulty accepting the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died a horrible death to atone for our sins, was buried and then was raised from the dead to sit at the right hand of God, must first find within themselves the ability to believe this truth.
For many of us, this is a difficult truth to accept. For many of us, the story is just too far-fetched to believe. I know this because for most of my life I refused to accept it myself. From my mid-teens to my mid-fifties, I lived with no belief in God and no understanding of what the death of His Son on the cross meant for me personally. As you will see, I came to accept that truth in a particularly painful way which almost cost me my life. It is my fervent hope and prayer that the recounting of that experience and my personal discovery of the path to freedom might be of value to others. Perhaps the thoughts posted here might help others to pause and consider their own faith, or lack thereof. As a result of reading these pages, if just one person begins to follow the path made freely available to us all by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, then God has truly blessed me in a magnificent way.
I was initially raised as a Roman Catholic, but any involvement with the church or its teachings was merely blind obedience to parental instruction. There was never any family discussion centered on the Bible, on God, or on the life and death of Jesus. Ultimately, what I was left with was the impression that God was to be feared and obeyed or we would go to a really, really bad place upon our death. While this is true, that impression leaves us terribly ignorant to important truths about God. Truths such as His abundant and unfailing love for us, His incredible capacity for mercy, grace, and forgiveness, as well as His amazing ability to restore us and renew our lives when we live them in willful disobedience to Him and finally decide to return to His ‘flock’, as I did.
If you are uncomfortable again as a result of the words you are reading, I understand. I was very uncomfortable back in August of 2009 as I lay in a pool of my blood on the floor of a motel shower stall, hovering near death from self-inflicted wounds to both sides of my neck.
But how did I wind up on that shower floor?
Following is an excerpt from an article I wrote in “The Oakdale Chronicles“, a blog which was lovingly maintained for me by family and a friend while incarcerated at the Oakdale, LA federal correctional institution. The article, titled “unspoken“, was written as a ‘speech’ that I would love to give to high school students:
“It has taken tragedy, self-degradation, the embarrassment of myself and my family, loss of respect from others and from myself, a nearly successful suicide attempt, arrest and imprisonment for me to find answers for myself. To find the answers, I needed to discover certain truths about how a life – my life – became so completely and disastrously derailed. I point the finger of blame at no one for anything I have ever done. I hold no one responsible for the multitude of bad decisions I have made in my life, nor do I hold anyone accountable for me being where I am today instead of where I could have been. No one, that is, except for myself. But now, finally, I can see clearly some of the things that were broken early on in my life that could have been fixed and probably would have resulted in my train staying on the track. Oh, I probably would have still been rerouted a time or two, or paused in a siding temporarily, but I quite possibly could have avoided the complete derailment that caused so much damage, created so much havoc and endangered – and cost – so many lives.”
Those broken things I mentioned in that article constituted the first step on the path that I used to be on. It was a selfish, self-centered, and self-destructive path that almost delivered me to a horrible death which would have left painful memories for those who loved me despite the fact I could not love myself. As we continue this journey together, I will attempt to offer clear, concise directions to all who may discover they, too, are headed the wrong way.
When God created mankind He gave us the freedom to make choices. The Bible offers an excellent definition of freedom and how God intended that freedom to be used: “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NLT)
On a low wall on the Penn State University campus is this inscription: “Use Thy Freedom Well”. Like many people, I failed to do that. How about you? How are you using yours?
Until next time, may God touch your heart and help you stay on the “Path To Freedom”.