Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
Last night, I met up with an old friend for dinner. It’s restaurant week in our city (when fine dining restaurants are half-price for charity). For a food-lover like me who is on a budget, it’s my version of the Superbowl. We picked a steak house we both wanted to try and met up for one amazing meal. After confessing that we are both gluten-free and, for this reason, shouldn’t eat bread, we commenced to dive into the breadbasket like it was our job. Double fisting hot rolls, we laughed at our lack of self-control when presented with hot baked goodness. Gluten, what gluten? Pass the butter.
A few minutes into our appetizer, my friend asked me about Redeemed Girl. She knows our passion to see women redeemed, transformed and set free, and she is a strong supporter of the ministry, but more than that, she, too, is a redeemed girl. Or should I say, a redeemed Christian girl.
My friend doesn’t remember a time in her life that she didn’t believe in Jesus. As a little girl, she vividly recalls her father sharing the Gospel with her and trusting Jesus as her Savior. She knows she was a child of God from a very young age. Growing up she did all the things that church kids do—she went to church camp, attended Sunday school, and was active in her youth group. Yet, she swerved far from God when she went to college. She abandoned her childhood faith and followed a path that led her far from God.
Here is the weird thing. She never stopped believing in Jesus, she just started believing the lies of the enemy that something other than Jesus would provide her happiness and fulfillment. The typical temptations allured her: She wanted a boyfriend. She wanted security. She wanted to feel loved. And in that place of longing, the enemy strategically placed an alternate route—one that rebelled against the Lord and disregarded Him. She believed the age-old lie that something other than Jesus could fill her heart.
“I wish I hadn’t swerved in college,” my friend admitted as dessert was being served. She confessed the waste and emptiness of the years when she walked away from the Lord and the weight of conviction she felt as she walked in disobedience. Her heart never felt at home in the sin. She knew her choices grieved God’s Spirit. She was a girl who wandered far from home.
Warnings from scripture echo throughout her story:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12
Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
God’s word clearly defines two diverse paths. One is a path of righteousness and the other is a path of destruction. The first is marked by faith, obedience to God and experiencing the abundant life in Him. The other marked by lies, disobedience to God and destruction. The Bible speaks to us a clear warning: Don’t Swerve!
Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”
When Jesus beckons us to “follow Him,” He invites us to experience abundant life as we trust, obey and walk in His will. Yet, we all face temptations to swerve from that path. At first, these temptations seem like delightful detours (sin always does) but ultimately they lead to destruction. My friend knows this route all too well. She detoured in college only to experience heartache, shame, and regret. But in telling me her story she adds: “God’s spirit would not let me go. As far as I tried to run, I knew I was His.”
I just wonder is there anyone reading this today who has also swerved? You, too, know Jesus and at some point you committed your life to Him. But today you find yourself in a place that seems very far from Him. Friend, let me give you a word of hope and a word of truth—you don’t have to stay there! Our God is a great Redeemer! And just like in the case of my dear friend, He even loves to redeem those of us who knew better.
One of the most beautiful pictures of God’s redeeming love is The Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus used this story to illustrate the amazing gift of grace that God, the Father, bestows on His children who have swerved far from Him into rebellion.
Then Jesus said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’
“So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.
“That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
Luke 15:11-32 The Message (MSG)
Dear one, please note what the prodigal did when he was far from his father and living in the consequences of his choices—he came to his senses, and he went home. Don’t miss the sweet spot of this story: the prodigal isn’t the star of this parable; the Father is the star! Jesus wants us to see that when a prodigal comes home, the Father runs to embrace him. His love, grace, and forgiveness are ready to envelope and restore the prodigal. He throws a party when we come home. His love is just that incredible.
What is the first step if you swerved?
• First of all, don’t believe the lies of the enemy that God could never forgive you or love you. Those are Satan’s oldest tricks to keep us stuck in bondage. God’s mercy is just as present for you today as it was when you first believed. He is the father watching and waiting for you to come home.
• Own your junk. This means we are honest with God about our mess. Unless we own it and bring it, God can’t clean it. Confess your sin. If your heart still loves the sin, ask God to change it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told the Lord that I need Him to change me because I can’t change myself. Don’t try to clean yourself up first. This is the place where we confess to God our need, where we ask for forgiveness, and we ask God to change our hearts. If you are in a struggle that seems bigger than your ability—then take it to the One who is all-powerful and able to defeat anything that has you in bondage. Jesus loves to set the captive free. The point is this: we can’t change ourselves. We need to ask God to make us new and to set us free—this is His specialty!
Finally, simply receive God’s love.
• One of the biggest lies we hear when we’ve blown it or rebelled against God is that we somehow need to earn His love back. That is a lie from the pit of hell. Satan wants to keep us in shame because shame will lead us back to the same sin struggles we had before. Grace, however, declares us forgiven, beloved and whole. To receive God’s love means we believe that He has declared us forgiven and welcomed into His family. His home is our home.
Dear Friend, I want you to imagine the prodigal going home… Even when he was a long way off, the Father was watching for him to return and ran to embrace Him. Your heavenly Father loves you. He longs to welcome you home and embrace you as His child. Today, don’t delay…Come home! Receive anew the amazing grace poured out for you on the cross.
Your Heavenly Father awaits you …
Marian Jordan Ellis
RGM Founder & President