I don't understand God.
I'm not sure that I want to.
I think it's awe-inspiring that the wonder of His love for us makes no sense.
It leaves me spellbound that the same God who used Rahab in the lineage of Jesus Christ still involves Himself completely in our sexual stories.
Rahab was the prostitute. She was the damaged goods. She was the strung out and run through body-merchant that the world turned its nose up at. She was the harlot whose reputation preceded her. And still God chose to use her for the work He desired to do. Still God looked past the symptoms of her misguided heart and used her character, her faithfulness, and her humble fear of the Lord to shift the course of history. Then, to take it a step further, because God is simply the wonder-worker of illogical glory, he used a woman like Rahab in the genealogy of Jesus. The Savior of the world born from the family line of a once-desperate, broken girl.
A whore justified by faith. I suppose in a way I can relate. And for that I am all the more grateful to the King who is ready and willing to redeem our stories.
We are such a work in progress, Jeremiah and I. We don't have it all figured out in our sexual journey as husband and wife. As I write this, we are only three years into marriage, not that much further removed from the promiscuity of my youth. And closer still to our own sexual struggles that tangled us up in dating in the early days after "I do." But when I look at myself in the mirror these days, I'm constantly reminded of Psalm 103:12. God is not a keeper of our record of wrongs. He is not counting the days since our struggles subsided as a time-based gauge for how much "better" we've become. No, I'm reminded of how that Scripture clarifies, "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." That "the Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles" (34:17). That, as Daniel 10:12 reminds us, since the first day we began to pray for understanding and to humble ourselves before our God, our requests were heard in heaven.
So the cry of my heart was, and continues to remain, "For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins" (Ps. 25:11). "Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord" (v.7).
It continues to blow me away that He has, does, and will continue to respond to our humble cries. When fear creeps in and reminds me of who I used to be, the things I have seen and tried and done, and the fact that a number of people out there could try to hold over me what they know about my past, my behaviors, and my reputation, I lean into the power of the Word and the strength of what it reminds me.
Against the fear of what others could say or what others might think or what shame might try to capture me with, Micah 7:8-10 frames my anthem of victory.
Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. I will be patient as the LORD punishes me, for I have sinned against him. But after that, he will take up my case and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies. The LORD will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness. Then my enemies will see that the LORD is on my side.
Romans 8:1 declares, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." I wonder if that could become the new truth we allow to be etched across our healing hearts? Always remembering – even in our weaknesses, our struggles, and the painful process of dying to self and turning from sin-filled sexual things – "Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!" (Mic. 7:19).
I don't blame the conversations that the church forgot as the catalysts of the roller-coaster ride that was my sexual testimony. I don't blame the men involved. I don't blame the pain others caused. I don't blame the father who abandoned me. I don't blame TV or movies or music or social media. I don't blame friends. I don't blame family. I don't even blame a world that force-fed me dark and broken things.
My sexual struggles were a result, from the very beginning, of my sin-nature. My wants. My thoughts. My actions. My pride. My choices. My rebellion. My desperation for affirmation. My desires. My decision to make myself the god of my own story.
The conductor of my decades-long sexual train wreck was me.
But I, my friend, have been redeemed.
And again, I say, redeemed indeed.
Mo Isom joins James and Betty this Thursday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot by Mo Isom. Copyright ©2018 by Mo Isom. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission.