Again & Always

It’s him … again. He’s holding another shiny, bright gold ring, beautiful and gleaming, just like all the others have been. You’ve seen it so many times before.

It’s the enemy, making the same promises you’ve heard before on thousands of occasions. “You need this.” “It’ll feel great.” “You don’t want to stop.” “What’s the big deal?” “Why should anyone tell you what’s right and wrong?” All the convincing pitches that have worked on you before.

Finally, you reach out and take the ring like a starving man grabs a piece of bread. You place the band on your finger. It fits like it always has, sealing the bond that in this moment, in this event, you side with the enemy, turning your back on God, agreeing that your choice is best. The ring symbolizes the covenant with the enemy to sin and break fellowship with God … again.

But just like every time, when you slip the ring on, in a flash, it turns grimy and black, squeezing your finger, then your hand, your arm until you feel the pain and pressure in your soul. It wasn’t beautiful after all. The shine was an illusion. Again.

What looked like a ring was just another link in the chain.

You can’t believe you bought into the insanity again, thinking this time was going to be different, this time the feeling would last, it would satisfy you, wouldn’t create the pain, guilt, and shame. But here they all are again. And here you are again … standing alone and lonely with only the enemy’s accusations, taunting, ringing in your ears. He’s moved on until the next time, but his words echo, always lingering.

You know how to end this, to make the voice stop, to clean the smut out of your soul.

You hit your knees. You mouth the words again, for the ten thousandth time … “Lord, please forgive me … again … Make me right with you.”

As you open your eyes, you’re standing on a beach, in front of a vast ocean, the waves lapping up at your feet. You hear the roar of the surf as it crashes onto the rocks nearby. You feel the wet wind on your face. This beauty is quite real.

You hear the Lord say, “Take off the ring and throw it into the ocean.”

Without hesitation, you slip it off, place it into your hand, draw back your arm, and with all your strength, you throw it as far as you can. The surging waves swallow the ring, like dropping a pebble into the Grand Canyon, gone and out of sight in a heartbeat.

You sense the peace, the grace, the love, pouring into your heart. You’re grateful for another chance, a new moment to start over with God.

As you walk away from the beach, and over the rocks, back to your life, you hear a familiar voice. The words begin with a mumble then work into a shout. It’s the accuser again. “So, you think it’s that simple? God’s just going to let this go? You’re a failure. You’re not a Christian. If people knew what you were really like, no one would buy this faith thing you portray. What a loser!”

You hear his words and agree with him. You buy into the lie … again. Your first thought is you need to find the ring and be certain your sin is paid for, make sure God really forgave you. Find the ring and keep it safe so no one will know the enemy is right.

You run back onto the beach, falling to your hands and knees, beginning to crawl through the sand and water, looking for the ring, frantically searching.

You scour the entire area … nowhere to be found. Surely it will wash up on the shore soon. After all, how far could you have thrown it? You wade deeper in with the waves pushing and tossing you around. You sift your hands through the water, scanning for any sign of the ring. Panic begins to set in. What if you don’t find it? What if in the search, you drown?

In the chaos, you cry out for God … again.

This time, it’s not about forgiveness, but about believing redemption is true, accepting God’s truth about you, letting go of the lies, receiving the grace given when you tossed the ring into the ocean.

In that moment, you realize the voice of the enemy has fallen silent. The waves subside. The waters calm. You walk back onto the sand. Exhausted, you crawl up onto a rock and survey the vast expanse of the sea, the water spanning hundreds of miles all the way to the horizon, the sun bright and shining on the other side. Peace. Grace. Mercy. Joy. Forgiveness. Love.

Jesus’ voice whispers to you on the rock, “Your sin is swallowed up in my salvation. When you confess, I forgive. When you release, I restore. When you give up, I give you rest … always.”

The waves of death crashed over me, devil waters rushed over me. Hell’s ropes cinched me tight; death traps barred every exit. A hostile world! I called to God, to my God I cried out. From his palace he heard me call; my cry brought me right into his presence—a private audience!

But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! —2 Samuel 22:5-7, 17-20 MSG

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