Have you ever heard someone say, “Life’s been good to me?” That’s the way Margaret and I felt about our life together.Our relationship began as high school sweethearts and eventually we married. We soon saw many of our plans materializing. Margaret was finishing school, we were buying our first house, had a new baby and a new car. Life was indeed being good to us. The third year we were married, our second child was born. Just three months later she unexpectedly and unexplainably died. This event had a big impact on our attitudes and thoughts toward life and death. Questions started coming up like, what really happens after death? Is there something else? Are we really in as much control of our lives as we think?We had always believed in God, even though He was usually left on the back burner. We knew He was the One in charge of life and death, and we wondered if perhaps He was trying to get our attention through our baby’s death.
Are we really in as much control of our lives as we think? Since spiritual things were something we never talked about, the questions remained unanswered.
Our lives got busy again and the void seemed to fill up. A few years later the “good life” came to a crashing halt again. I lost my job. This was the second time a circumstance out of our control changed the course of our lives and threatened our security. And this was the second time we asked ourselves, “Are we really in as much control of our lives as we think? How much security do we have? Do changing circumstances govern our lives? And where, if anywhere, does God fit in to all of this?” This time we had more opportunity to find answers to our questions because I couldn’t find a new job. Life didn’t straighten out like I had hoped. Faced with bills and family needs I was pretty scared, and feeling an insecurity that I had never experienced. We took a short trip to get away form the pressures and went to visit my older brother. He had always seemed to be content and assured of things in his life. He wasn’t striving hard like I was and didn’t seem to need all the things I thought were necessary for a “good life”.
Several years earlier he had made a choice to put God in control of his life. He told us that was where His assurance and security came from. He showed us what God said in the Bible, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” [Jeremiah 29:11]
We had always ignored or avoided spiritual conversations but had been satisfied with going to church and going through other acceptable motions. Talking about God opened up a whole new aspect to our relationship, it was like meeting a new part of each other. We found out that God’s plan for us, ultimately, is to be with Him forever in Heaven, and that this couldn’t happen unless we met His requirements. Surprisingly, we found out that He requires perfection, or no sin, and we knew this left us out. The Bible says that every person is a sinner and that, “The wages (payment) for sin is death (separation from God) but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.” [Romans 6:23] God solved our problem 2000 years ago when He paid the payment for our sin through Jesus’ death. Jesus died so we wouldn’t have to be separated from God forever. We learned that we could meet God’s requirement of freedom from sin if we accepted the fact that through Jesus’ death He paid for our sins. We could really see how much God loved us through dying for us. Not only wanting to give us the best life for all eternity, but also to give us a better life right now. “I came that they might have life and might have it abundantly.” John 10:10
We had thought that God was a loving and forgiving God and would only send the really bad sinners to hell. We learned that God doesn’t have any double standards, that any and all sin separated us from Him. He is a loving and forgiving God to those who personally accept His death for their sins.
Margaret and I made this choice to let Christ’s punishment count for us. It wasn’t automatic, we had to willingly choose to receive His gift and change our attitudes toward God, putting Him in control instead of us. Making this choice meant choosing a better life than we’ve ever had. Our security lies in a God who loves us and who has good plans for our lives, not in changing circumstances or material things. Our relationship is deeper and more complete than ever before. Since we discovered the spiritual side of each other and since God is at the center of our relationship, many of the fears and insecurities that were part of our relationship without God are gone. We have a standard to live by, to make decisions according to, and to raise our children in the Bible. The guess work and uncertainties of life are diminished because God is now able to carry out His plan for us. Perhaps the most important change of all is that now we know that when we die we’ll be with Him forever.
We want you to know that God is offering this same security to you. If you choose to accept His death for your sin and place Him in control of your life you’ll be choosing a better life for now and the best for all eternity. (firstname.lastname@example.org)