Up to this point, everything I did was for my own narcissism and all attempts to easy my hopeless, dark, hell-bent state were a failure. No matter how I tried to numb the pain and bring light into my life, I was unable.

My prison chains were real, forged of a damning, deceitful, and disturbing kind of steel. These binding serrated bars and chain-links of death were unable to be lifted and left me most inescapable. I was powerless, and none of my works, even my very best ones, nor any of my uses of self-help, could rescue.

I was alone in the prison of my mind, a man trapped behind the invisible bars of darkness. All the paths laid before me were whitewashed walls, painted up, and built upon the lies of lies and with more lies deep within. These corridors of death only led me into more darkness, more loneliness, more pits of despair and more self-works that bound my misery. Fears raided my mind and stamped upon the ideas of faith.

Incapable of any real hope, help, and truth, and while blinded by my pride, the love of God intervened, grabbing my lost soul.  He recreated my heart of stone into a moldable new life.

Yet, on that most blessed of days, when I was surely most unlovable indeed, the Lord God Almighty, my Great Rescuer, demonstrated His sovereign hand of love by providentially pulling me from the sewage of my depravity. He showered me clean by the mercy and grace of His dear Son, Christ Jesus. Oh, what a splendid and most joyous day this was when His name became sweet and most precious. It was a day of reviving and powerful grace. His grace took all that I was and all that I had become and made me anew. He powerfully set my feet firmly in the bright light, thereby opening my eyes to see the pathway of eternal life and to the working of the plow. It was the very day that the light of Christ illuminated the recesses of darkness and melted away the bars, the chains, and the choking yoke which had held me captive. I was no longer a beaten bound up slave to the devil, left to linger in my own sinfulness. I was now joyfully a bondservant of Christ’s, by grace, mercy, and love.

Oh, my precious Jesus!

I remember staring down at the long, parched field of my calloused old heart. As I stepped onto that fallow ground, I had been given a new heart, a plow and told, “Get to work.”

My hand was put to the plow, told not to look back, and to walk the narrow path keeping my gait constant and forward with hands firmly affixed. God had given me all I needed for “life and godliness.”  Through Him, the call for my diligent hand of obedient duty was clear.

“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Nothing short of a detailed walk and close communion in prayer would do. It was an absolute must, not only to put the hand to the plow, but to do so with my own cross lifted and carried along the way.  Albeit not easy, He has enabled the journey to be most joyous and with great promise. Twenty years draws nigh, and I sense that the first of my fields has been plowed and made ready for His planting, nurturing, pruning and harvest.

Truly, it is in the trials where the Christian faith is tested and found true. And without doubt, in these ways, just like the disciples, “Lord, teach us how to pray.”  For it is no small thing to wake up and to bless His holy name, in praise, prayer and adoration in the earliest of hours. How amazing He is to be so unfathomably mighty, and yet to be so delicately skilled as to fan into flame the smoldering wick and not break the bruised reed of my life. For how often I have felt just like the bruised reed about to break and smoldering wick about to burn out.

As I stand at the end of my initial twenty years of walking with the Lord, a straight and clear path is laid out before me. It is my duty to keep my hand to the plow, focused and directed, of both pursuit and renewed first love, relying completely on His strength.

“Pursue love… and I will show you still a more excellent way.”

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