Forgiveness is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. It opens the door to salvation, but we have to walk through it.
The moment came. I was standing on the precipice, paralyzed, weak, and ashamed. The darkness was overwhelming. All I wanted was escape. To just close my eyes and sink into oblivion. To reach that place where I didn’t have to feel, think, or even breathe, and stay there.
Those moments of guilt and shame were interminable. I didn’t know how to ask for forgiveness. Believing, myself unworthy, I sought respite from my suffering in increasingly destructive ways.
I’d been here so many times. I recognized the swirling darkness. Recognized the force of the wind pulling and pushing at my soul. Knew the howling nothingness calling me by name.
It’s ironic, looking back. Maybe, ironic isn’t the right word? Maybe, prophetic? It’s hard to describe, but in that paralyzing moment, I experienced a split second of clarity. There, and then gone just as quickly, but it was sufficient.
It broke through the haze because it was so out of place. It took my focus off the present moment, and having captured my attention, allowed clarity to step in. Clarity reminded me that I’d stood in this exact spot countless times, begging for relief. Pleading for deliverance. It showed me that I continually chose the most expedient way out. The path that required nothing of me. The route that delivered me from the maelstrom into temporary oblivion.
In that split second of clarity, these thoughts slammed into me, from what seemed like out of nowhere, and I stumbled. It was the stumble that caused me to pause, but it was a single thought that forced me to stop.
I have a choice.
In my desperation, I’d never even looked for a different way out. Instead, I believed this was it. That I was too far gone. Locked forever in this prison and these small windows of respite were all I’d ever know.
How many choices had I squandered? How many remained? Would this seemingly endless well of choices run dry? Would THIS choice be my last one? If I chose wrong now, what price would I pay?
My questions went unanswered. Perhaps, because deep down, I already knew.
Then the terrifying revelation, the choice was before me now and I had yet to make it.
With that realization, came something else.
A voice I did not recognize. It seemed to resonate from within me. It was more than a thought or a feeling. It was an internal presence, though I knew I was physically alone on the edge of that abyss. I always had been, or so I believed.
The voice was a soothing one that reminded me in spite of everything, the choice was still there and it was still mine. I felt a gentle pulling, an innate desire to move toward it. It was immediate and profound.
Looking back now, I know that moment of clarity was a miracle. It was also a doorway. One that would lead me to a different place. At the time, I didn’t know what to call that doorway or that place, I just knew it would be a different path than the one I’d been on for so long.
Today, I know it as the doorway to Salvation.
That defining moment in the darkness was one of many miracles I experienced during my long journey to self-destruction. Miracles I did not recognize at the time, but now see so clearly.
Perhaps, because like always, during those moments of paralyzing shame, there was another voice there. One I recognized because I’d answered its call so many times. It was the voice that promised escape from my suffering. That delivered me into the numbness and oblivion I wanted. That made excuses for me and insisted I could not survive without it. I knew I had to but reach out and choose what it offered and everything else would fade. For a little while.
In March of 2018, however, I found myself in a position that left me totally bereft. I was separated completely from everything familiar, including, and most especially, from my normal means of escape. I was at the mercy of the caregivers around me and they held all the cards. When the darkness began to close in on me, there was nowhere for me to go.
During the wee hours of that first night, as sleep evaded me, that never silent, insistent voice in my head grew louder and louder. The darkness grew deeper and deeper. The chaos filling me drove me farther into the abyss. Unable to remain still, I climbed from the bed and lay down on the cool tile floor. As I cowered there with my arms covering my head, my silent scream for help were deafening. Torn from my soul, it racked my entire body.
That’s where Salvation found me.
I felt the instant everything changed. It was like entering the eye of a hurricane. It was eerily calm, even though I felt the chaos raging all around me. I knew the eye would pass and when it did, this temporary peace would feel more like a dream. For the moment though, I could breathe and that’s all that mattered.
Most of all, that relentless, tormenting, always present voice was silent. That’s when it hit me, the voice is gone but I’m still here.
That voice had been a constant in my life for so long, that I’d come to believe it was me. In that instant, however, the possibility that it wasn’t began to take shape. Those answers would come later, but at the time, the mere inkling that I was separate from it was enough.
The door had been opened. There was a different path. For the first time, I could not only see it, I could feel it.
The crossroad between Heaven and hell.
Two roads, one familiar, one new, lay before me.
The well-worn path to oblivion, the road I always chose, called out to me. I knew it well and the desire to go down it was powerful. Yet, for the first time, I hesitated. Forced to acknowledge that the consequences I’d never allowed myself to even think about, but still understood on a visceral level, were before me now too.
What price would I pay for choosing the easy road? It had never asked anything of me, only delivered, so I’d never considered the payment. There was a price though, and on some level I think I’d always known it. This time, I knew that choosing that path would cost me absolutely everything, including my soul.
In the other direction lay a road I’d never traveled. A doorway, I’d never seen, though I somehow knew it had always been right there. I knew that this choice too would come at a great cost. One I’d be required to relinquish right up front. The road itself would not be an easy one to travel. There would be pitfalls, struggles, and much demanded of me along the way. Demands I was terrified to face.
I knew choosing this path would ultimately bring me face-to-face with my past. I’d be forced to walk through the miles and miles of destruction I’d left in my wake. There’d be no way out except through.
The price for safe passage was Surrender. The gift awaiting me on the other side was Redemption. Everything I had been, everything I was, and everything I’d ever be for eternal salvation.
Understanding did not trickle in slowly. It slammed into me like a punch to the gut. Once known, it could not be unknown. This was not just a choice, it was a battle. One that had been going on since the dawn of time. In that moment of eerie calm I knew exactly what the battle was and exactly what was at stake.
This was the war for my soul and I was standing at its apex.
My long and destructive fall from grace had brought me here. My choices, up until this moment, had served two masters, feeding my selfish desires and silencing my fears. Now, the lies had been exposed, in the most brutal way, and I was keenly aware of the choice before me. I just didn’t know if I had any strength left to make it.
Salvation did not waver in His pursuit of me. He stayed with me. He offered mercy. He covered me in grace. He stood between me and temptation. He held the door wide open. Most of all, He provided the strength I needed to rise, to step through it, and to follow Him.
I have been on that road for over five years now, and He has never left my side.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still,” Exodus 14:14.
I finally became still. After decades of running headlong into darkness, that moment of stillness came. That has been the greatest miracle of all.
For whatever reason, however I got there is no longer as important as the fact that I was there. I was in that room alone. The walls were closing in. The darkness was overwhelming. I had reached the end. There was nowhere left for me to go.
So, I went to the only place my battered soul could find in the darkness. I fell to my knees and finally cried out to God for help. He was there. He answered me. He fought for me, and with arms wide open, He welcomed me home.
Salvation was relentless,
when He came for me,
I felt His pull upon my chains,
as He fought to set me free.
I was drowning in a torrent,
of agonizing shame,
all I wanted was oblivion,
to free me from the pain.
So beaten down and weary,
I never stopped to see,
the open door Salvation,
had placed in front of me.
Believing that forgiveness,
was too far out of reach,
afraid to even ask, so sure,
I’d never feel it’s peace.
Instead I trusted all the lies,
that kept me locked in place,
destroying any hope that I,
would find redeeming grace.
Every time I reached the bottom,
and I faced that choice again,
I always chose the fastest route,
to the numbness that I craved.
Then, through the blinding chaos,
Salvation reached for me,
the tempest fell to silence,
and I could finally breathe.
In the eerie calm I stumbled,
and then stood face-to-face,
with the overwhelming magnitude,
of my bitter fall from grace.
Standing in the wreckage,
His was the quiet voice,
reminding me despite it all,
I still had a choice.
That was the moment I finally grasped,
the enormity of the choice at last.
This was a fight between Faith and Fear,
my eternal soul hung balanced here.
The easy path I knew too well,
with little effort the storm would quell.
What price would my deferment set?
I’d forfeit my soul to secure this debt.
On the other side of the open door,
lay a path requiring so much more.
All of me I’d have to give,
for Grace to assure my soul would live.
Momentary reprieve for eternal damnation.
Surrender my life for the gift of Salvation.
How many times would I face this test,
before there were no choices left?
Would this be the last one I’d be given?
My last opportunity to choose redemption?
The struggle continued unabated,
two pathways out illuminated.
Salvation’s door stood outside the fray,
a beacon of light in a landscape of grey.
It was there amid the ruins,
I closed my eyes and finally prayed,
for deliverance from the darkness,
and the light to find my way.
Salvation had been waiting,
the door was opened wide,
releasing all my chains He turned,
and beckoned me inside.
And there upon that threshold,
I surrendered all in Faith, and took
my first few shaky steps,
into the arms of Amazing Grace.
JN Fenwick (© 2022-2023) | mothjournal14
Along the way, God has placed so many inspiring people in my path. He has blessed my recovery journey in ways both big and small. My reliance on Him has grown with every step I have taken. My reverence for His Word and trust in His plan for my life continue to guide and shape me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing,” John | 15:15.
One of the greatest gifts of my life is the man I share it with, my husband, John. For nearly 35 years he has stood faithfully beside me. Though I may never know the true extent of the suffering he endured or the sacrifices he had to make during those dark years, I now understand the magnitude of the trust and faith he placed in God to guide him through it.
Recently, John shared three things he asks during his prayers, not just in times of uncertainty and doubt, but every time he prays. I was very moved by his words and the simple grace contained within them.
Keeping our focus on God is important in every aspect of our lives. In recovery, no matter where we are in our journey, it is vital. Remaining God-focused is vision for the soul and food for the spirit. It takes our sight off this world, and more importantly off ourselves, and keeps us firmly fixed on Him. It is through His grace that we are saved, through His strength that we find strength, and through obedience to His will that we experience true and everlasting peace.
In those moments when you feel weak, experience doubt, or are faced with trials that might otherwise derail you, immediately turn to God and pray this simple prayer.
Ask for God’s direction.
Ask for vision to see God’s direction.
Ask for strength to move in the direction God has laid out for you.
Why these 3 things?
God answers our prayers. When we are distracted we sometimes fail to recognize the answer is in front of us.
We don’t have the ability to see the future, God does. We often interpret circumstances from our own perspective and this can make us blind to God’s direction. We need vision.
Faith is trust. We need to trust that God’s path is the only right path for us. We doubt and again are blind to God’s direction. We doubt when the path is not an easy one. We often justify our own path because it’s familiar to us, and therefore easier.
The Bible is clear in that the yoke is heavy but strength will be provided, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew | 11:28.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”Matthew | 7:7
May the peace of Christ and the eternal love of the Father bless and keep you. May His face shine down upon you. May your heart be opened to receive the gifts of humility and grace so that you choose the doorway to Salvation and the path to everlasting life. Amen.
JN Fenwick (© 2023)