I am a preacher’s daughter and a preacher’s wife in the Church of the Nazarene, but there was a time in my life when I wasn’t always faithful in my walk with the Lord. During that time, I blamed others for my walking away. I first blamed those I called the hypocrites of the church and then blamed those who had hurt me and had left emotional wounds that I thought would never heal.
One day, my parents, who never stopped praying for me, encouraged me and my husband to attend a local Church of the Nazarene in our neighborhood. I agreed but was not excited due to my bitterness toward the church. While the pastor was preaching, I looked up at the cross behind him and the Lord began to speak to my hurting heart. He told me, “people will and have failed you, but when you really look back at your broken life, you will find that I never have. I’ve always been there protecting your life.”
He was right! I realized as I looked up to the cross that I had been looking to people for their approval instead of looking up to the Lord. It finally clicked—I should have been looking up to Him this whole time! That day at the altar, I cried out to the Lord, “I can no longer do this on my own. I need You to come beside me, be my advocate, guide my steps, lift my eyes up to what You want me to see, and help me to keep looking up.”
I had to choose to let go of my sinful life and turn to the true love of Christ.
We read about such true love in John 8:2-11. This woman’s sin was adultery, but I imagined myself in her shoes. I knew that I had fallen away from the Lord. I was so busy focusing on my own shame and on those who had “cast stones” that I had forgotten my need for a Savior. What must that woman have been feeling as the crowd sneered at her while holding their stones? Christ stood beside her as her advocate although He didn’t make excuses for her sin. Like the woman in the story, I realized I had to turn to the Lord, receive His forgiveness, and “go and leave [my] life of sin” (11).
That day, I accepted my sin as my own as well as the forgiveness Christ offered so freely to me. I am eternally thankful for the absolute truth of forgiveness as I continue to witness to the lost. They, like me, can find forgiveness for their sins. A phrase I use often is “keep looking up” because of my wonderful salvation experience. Fix your eyes on Christ and His will for your life, and stop focusing on the world. Keep looking up!
RuthAnne Gardner and her husband, Rick, enjoy their four children and two grandchildren. She and her husband have served together in ministry for 23 years, and she is a strong advocate for the pro-life movement.