I was 22. Careless in my accountability. Lawless in my imagination. Arrogant, isolated, and in full-time ministry.
So it should not shock you when I tell you that 22 landed me deep in the fire of sin through an affair with a married man. My tendencies to try and be “the savior” to the hurting and also a deep desire to be loved and wanted led me straight into the lion’s den.
And I did not make it out alive. Not really. I died in there. The old Andrea did. Her hopes. Her dreams. Her reputation. Her purity. They all were torn to shreds. Torn by the teeth of the one who devours. Torn by my own hands. Torn by the slicing words of other Christians who whispered behind closed doors and made up their own stories of how I got there.
As I died 1000 deaths within me, I faced the scrutiny and shunning of the local church. I desperately searched for rock bottom but it wouldn’t find me for a few more years. I had a free fall in to darkness and somewhere along the way, I tried to make peace with it. I searched the scriptures for reasons that I was ok. I sought out teachers who wouldn’t tell me I was in sin. I tried to blame it on this thing, or that thing, and tried to answer the question that everyone else was asking — “How did this happen? Right under our noses?”
It happened under our noses just as any sin does. I wonder if Eve walked around the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil frequently. I wonder if she strolled past it and wondered how that fruit tasted. I wonder if David knew where Bathsheba lived. I wonder how many times he was with her in his head before he demanded her body. Even Lot’s wife looked back.
We tell the world they need to repent but then we make our quiet, private sins our pets. The things that seem like no big deal. The thoughts that linger too long. And we don’t hate these things. We deem them harmless and raise wild lions in our own homes, imaginations, hearts. We give them nicknames. We love them, really.
Until we hate sin, we will not long to be free from it. We won’t want freedom if our jail is home. Until we find God beautiful, we will not hate the things that dim our vision.
It’s been 13 years since my public moral failure. 13 years since I disappointed everyone I loved. 13 years since I died.
The grace and mercy of Christ who never lost me. I may have tried to throw myself off the cliff, but he wrapped me around his neck and carried me home. He resurrected things I thought were dead. He gave me back what I thought would never return. Restoration after repentance has been long, and may always feel like an unfinished work in my heart, but He never left me. Someday when I get home, I'll lock my eyes on Him forevermore.
The mercy and kindness of God reveals sin and brings us to repentance. Before you’re caught, before the lions circle you, come clean. Kill your darlings. Be ruthless about your head and heart. Ask the Lord to help you hate that which you currently call harmless. Suffocate your sin before it devours you.
Behold the beauty of a merciful King.
Lord I believe; help my unbelief.