As a young child, I was a hard-working, exemplary student throughout elementary school and the beginning of middle school. Once eighth grade started, I began to spend time with the wrong crowd. I knew the stuff they did was wrong, but still I adopted their habits. Smoking, experimenting with drugs, and skipping school consumed my time.
Before I knew it, I was in more trouble than I realized, but no one ever told me to quit. No one came to my rescue.
I was hardened. I was angry. So I joined the United States Army at age 19, a choice that saved my life. My military career helped me walk away from the drugs and danger before I could ruin my life completely. For the most part, my time in the Army “straightened me out,” or seemingly so, and it provided a stable job for me.
However, I continued living a destructive lifestyle in other ways. For the next 25 years, my moral compass continued to deteriorate with every sexually immoral relationship… abortions that helped me erase the consequences of my promiscuity… three marriages… three divorces…
Running, Running, Running
I didn’t know or believe I was valuable, so why would I think that my unborn children had any value? I learned to dismiss the horror and guilt of what I had done.
Deep inside, I knew that each of my husbands would abandon me sooner or later, like others in my life had done before them. So I left before they could leave me and hurt me.
I was certain that nothing good could ever last very long. I had to run first. And I kept running from the consequences of my choices before they caught up with me, even if it meant walking away from a promising and honorable Army career. Before I could get fired, I quit.
Following my military career, I moved to Seattle where I married my third husband. The bliss didn’t last long. I hated my job, feared my husband, and suffered through depression. My solution was to move to the Florida Keys where the sun and the people would surely hold a brighter future for me. I found a great job that I loved, but my marriage wasn’t doing so well. That’s when divorce number three came in.
I needed answers.
I learned about Jesus through some very successful people who told me I needed Him. They said that if I followed Him He would lead me to prosperity. That’s exactly what I wanted. So I prayed the sinner’s prayer: I acknowledged that I was a sinner in need of a Savior; I repented from my sin; and I invited Jesus to lead my life. I wanted to be successful, and I could hardly wait for Jesus to lead me to success.
But six months later, my life crumbled right before me; the “Good News” of Jesus seemed everything but that. And just as I had done so many times before, I ran away from Him and went back to my old, sinful ways.
Thankfully, the Bible is right: Jesus promises never to leave us or forsake us. Although I had given up on Christ, He did not give up on me. He began to change my heart and showed me that He is the true Way to prosperity—but not necessarily in the way I had been led to believe before. I confessed and repented of my sins and placed my entire faith in Jesus. In return, He gave me the incomparable riches of salvation and the assurance of eternal life.
I began to see His hand on my life and the path He wanted my life to take. I began to desire His will instead of my own. He prepared the way for me to move to San Diego, California. Within six months, He provided me with a place to live, a great job, and a wonderful church family.
As I grew in my relationship with Christ, my eyes opened even more to the truths in His Word: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). I realized that even though my past was marked by sin and perpetual disobedience toward God, Jesus satisfied God’s wrath through His death on the cross. Through genuine repentance and trust in Jesus, I am forgiven!
I don’t need to run away any more. His love for me is daily filling my heart with the assurance that I’m valuable. He has restored my heart. He has redirected my path. And He has redeemed what I lost. That now I can share my story of forgiveness and transformation, so others can have hope is truly miraculous.
Have you been abandoned? Have you sought contentment in temporary, worldly pleasures or relationships? Are you scarred by your choices? Perhaps you believe that nothing good really lasts or that there is nothing worth living for. Neither our circumstances nor our past sins can deter God from desiring a relationship with us. He offers His grace to those who repent—turning away from their sins—and place their trust in Him. Will you do that today? If you are ready, you can start with this simple prayer:
Dear God, I want you to show me the real meaning of success and the path you have for me. I repent of my sins and welcome Jesus to be my Savior, believing that He took the penalty of my sin, so that my relationship with you can be restored. Please, lead my life today.
If you have taken this step of faith, a new journey begins for you. You don’t need to run away any more.
Kathy Leicester is a bold and energetic follower of Jesus Christ, photographer, and budding author. In any given day, you can find her capturing God’s creation with her camera, getting someone fired up about Christ and the blessings we have been given, or blogging here.