It all started with a lapse of integrity, but it ended in tragedy.
Lisa and her husband lived a seemingly wonderful life. They were active in their church and had a young son. People in their church respected them because they tried to live by the rules in God’s Word. Although Lisa thought life was going pretty well, she couldn’t erase the feeling that her life was not complete and happy.
Then Lisa and her husband made a questionable financial decision that began to change their lives. It seemed insignificant at the time, just a small bending of the rules. They justified their action and went on with their daily life—with money in their pockets that wasn’t rightfully theirs.
As a result of breaking this financial rule, Lisa and her husband began relaxing other moral rules over the next two years. Looking back, Lisa says, “I didn’t understand that in the long term, every action has a reaction—physical laws as well as moral ones. When you disobey one of God’s commandments, it knocks everything out of line. Once we crossed over a moral line, we kept getting farther and farther away and the line became dimmer and dimmer. Once we decided not to keep a commitment in one area, our lack of commitment spread to other areas.”
Finally, Lisa discovered that her husband had begun an affair with an old girlfriend. Their fourteen-year marriage crumbled into divorce.
Lisa felt hurt and angry. Hadn’t she lived a “good” life? Why did this happen to her? To make her situation worse, many of her friends abandoned her. Even her pastor was insensitive to her situation and said, “Now we’ll see what kind of Christian you are.”
Lisa reacted by turning her back on God. She quit going to church and began hanging out in bars, attracting a new circle of friends. She went back to school, found a better job—and had a lot of “fun.” For ten years, she lived a life so rebellious to God that no one would have recognized that she ever called herself a Christian. In all this time, she knew that one day God would hold her accountable, but she was not about to change! She was fed up with His rules and religion.
Then one Sunday morning—on a Mother’s Day—she woke up early and felt a strange urge to go to church. She did not understand this urge because she certainly had not been thinking about God. She called a Christian friend who was living an equally wild life, and they attended church together.
It was a horrible experience. Lisa felt nervous, conspicuous, and awkward. After church, she and her friend headed straight for brunch and Bloody Marys.
Then, for some unexplainable reason, Lisa dug out her Bible and kept going to church. God began to do a work inside her. Although the change was not instantaneous, Lisa’s life and attitudes made a 180-degree turn. What she discovered was that before her divorce, attempting to follow God’s laws merely as a set of rules, without a heart of love, did not automatically make her happy. But when she wholeheartedly responded to God’s love for her, His commandments took on a completely different significance. They were not only easier to obey, but they became a joy to her life. She discovered that obedience to God out of love, not merely obligation, brings true happiness.
On the other hand, Lisa also discovered that purposely disobeying God’s laws prevented her from experiencing a joyful life too. In her quest for happiness during her rebellious years, Lisa says,
“What I experienced in the world can’t even come close to what God has to offer. I had ‘good times’ in my old life, but it can’t hold a candle to God’s love. My worldly lifestyle caused me and my family great harm and distress, but obeying God protects me and fills me with joy. My relationship with God is so precious that I wouldn’t throw it away for anything.”
Lisa regrets the things she did during those ten wild years. She says, “As a professing believer, I took God to places I had no business going. He loved me so much, and I chose to throw His love back in His face.”
Lisa did not find happiness in rebellion or in merely following God’s rules. True happiness comes from something much more—a love relationship with our great God and Savior that leads to obedience.
By Bill Bright, Written by the Hand of God
©2023 Copyright Bright Media Foundation