Look down! Look down!
You’ll always be a slave.
Look down! Look down!
You’re standing in your grave!
The opening lines from Les Miserables remind me of the days leading up to my grown-up decision to follow Jesus. You see, I asked Jesus into my heart in elementary school. I was a good girl, seeking to know all the rules so I could follow them. And then, life took a turn.
I lived like a good girl, but my personal life wasn’t so good. My parents went through a messy divorce. I had some boy-trouble of the high school variety. There was a little girl drama, also of the high school variety. I spent years being a good Jesus-girl and now the results were less than ideal.
If living right got me this much wrong, I decided living right must not be enough. I veered off in the other direction for a while. I stopped reading my Bible. I stopped trying to do right. I lived as though morality were subjective and all the lines were gray instead of black and white.
I tried to live a life free from the constraints of biblical principles. I found bondage instead of freedom. Instead of being hemmed in by God’s protective standards, I became a slave to sin. My decisions were guided by my own desires instead of a desire to follow Christ. I didn’t escape from the hard realities of messy relationships, I only complicated them with my downward spiral.
I stood in my grave one Sunday morning, looking down. I had been a good Jesus-girl, so I knew better. I also knew the price for my sin was steep.
I felt like Jean Valjean, chained and without hope. But God didn’t leave me there. He turned my eyes toward Him, even with my feet still firmly planted in the grave. He lifted me out, dusted me off, and called me to walk in a new direction. This time, it wasn’t to be a good girl. He called me to be holy. I wasn’t holy because of the good things I did or would do. I was holy because Jesus made me that way. His righteousness was given to me (Phil. 3:9). I still wanted to do the right thing, but now it would be out of gratitude instead of necessity.
Let him who walks in darkness
and has no light
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on his God.
(Isaiah 50:10b ESV)
Looking down at the sin that holds us back will only lead to discouragement and hopelessness. That is exactly where the enemy wants us. If we are in the grave of our own making, we are useless for the kingdom. When we look up, we see the One who came to redeem us from our mess and bring us hope.When we look up, we see the One who came to redeem us from our mess and bring us hope.Click To Tweet
Look up, dear friend. A kind and compassionate God wants to pull you from your grave. He stands ready to forgive you and restore you. Jesus came to set you free; let us choose to live in that freedom.
For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.
(Les Miserables, Epilogue)