ebook_cover_ncalhound184_rev_1_NCC_withForeword_v2Victory’s Road

A Graceful Drive Through Life’s Obstacles

Lesson One- True Life is Found in Christ

Hearing by the Word of God…

“In Him is Life and That Life is the Light of Men”

(John 1:4).

“Mommy, what did your mom look like”? That was the question I asked my mother as a child. My maternal grandmother had long passed when my mom was eight-years-old. There were no surviving pictures of her, so occasionally I would wonder about her. She must have been beautiful because my Mom was beautiful. Did she look like my mom? Did I look like her? I had so many questions. Barely in her thirties, my maternal grandmother left behind four young children to grow up in the foster system. There were two boys and two girls, “stair steps,” they used to say, because they were each one year apart from the next. Each of the siblings took their turns being passed around several foster homes. From the stories my mom told, this way of life was not ideal, at least not in the sixties. Ultimately, feeling she had no other choice, she left her final foster family at the age of seventeen. This is where my life began.

What is Life?

Do we really know what it is or what to do with it? We know we are alive and here. But why? Is there a goal to keep in mind? Is our sole purpose to live many years and then die? Is it to focus on our desires or that of others? Most of us do not know these answers, so we resort to survival mode.

If we were to be honest, we would admit that much of our lives have been aimless and without purpose. That is, we are here and surviving. We have a sense of goals, but our goals and aspirations are usually purely for self-gain. You and I both know it is easy to live for selfish ambition. Who could blame us? The media does a good job of letting us know who we should be and what we should have. Societal norms have made life about making money, buying material goods, and finding happiness. We search for fulfillment in things that are temporary, things that will be left behind once we have passed on.

Regrettably, our hunger for contentment can never be fully satisfied by material gain, so goes the downward spiral. Thousands of years after the book of Ecclesiastes was written, we are still “chasing after the wind.” Unfortunately, with this endless pursuit of temporal satisfaction comes much sorrow and regret. Little do we realize, we are chasing after the wrong things. We do not want temporary gratification. However, what the world has to offer is only temporary. We want eternal satisfaction. This type of satisfaction can only be found in true life. “What is true life?” you ask. True life is found in Christ.  With all of this in mind, we should really try to find the Possessor of true life (John 1:4).

Chasing after the Wind

I am guilty of living most of my twenties chasing after gratification. Ironically, instead of being grateful, I suffered the opposite. In the preface of this book, I mentioned how I came to Christ broken-hearted. You might wonder how I got there. How did my heart get so broken that I felt it was shattered into tiny pieces? I think a therapist would say the absence of my father was the primary factor; and I’m sure that played somewhat of a role. My guess is the vast majority of heartbreak was caused by jumping in and out of relationships. Yep, that pretty much did it! Like many, my life has been full of mistakes. My personal struggle was in longing for the companionship of a husband; and maybe it was because I had no father figure. Admittedly, I lost my virginity in my early teens, much too young for a girl to understand sex.  I was not what people would call a “fast girl.” I simply wanted to be loved and accepted. The older I got, I began meeting different men.  I hoped for each one to be a part of the love that my heart so yearned. Each time proved to be a failure. Continuing down this path, I made bad decisions, giving myself to them intimately. I did things out of character, outrageous things. And I justified them in the name of fun and fulfillment. I had no real purpose. I “[chased] after the wind.”

Hitting Rock Bottom

Certainly, after years of this self-deception, it took an emotional toll on me.  I found myself bitter and depressed. I blamed everyone else for the pain that I felt.  And at the time, it never occurred to me that this pain was a result of the “fun and fulfilling life” I had chosen. From the outside, I appeared to have the “total package;” but inside I was so lost and falling apart. I accomplished what society deemed as success: a degree, a good-paying job, a house, a car. But the emptiness would not leave.  It only increased with each failed relationship.

I started feeling used and thrown out like dirty laundry. Bitterness and negativity had taken over my thinking. “How on earth can these guys keep getting away with what they are doing?” I asked myself. They seemed to go from one person to the next, leaving a trail of broken hearts and wounded souls. Inevitably, I found myself mad at God, as if to say that He had something to do with my bad decisions.

I began lowering my standards, as if they were not low enough. I began compromising and telling myself that I did not need to get married; that I could just date without feelings; but I found that I was only fooling myself. I finally came to my lowest point. I was bitter and depressed.

Fed up with the heaviness, I talked to a friend over the phone about my situation. I cried and cried the entire time; and as I spoke with her, she said something totally unexpected: “I see you do not have a relationship with God.”  I remember thinking, She does not know what she is talking about. I pray. Then what she said made me think; it also made me realize just how low I had sunk; and from that moment, my eyes were opened. My problems were not rooted within the actions of others but within myself.

I Found Life

Finally having rededicated my life to God, He began showing me so many wonderful things, which began my new journey. I made the decision to give up my old life, and this was probably one of the easiest decisions I ever made. I was so broken; I did not want that life anymore; I wanted God. Determined to learn about Him, I went on a quest to read the entire Bible, which opened the door to my lessons.

I learned that the emotional toll I experienced was caused by my personal decisions, which ignored God’s Word; and God’s Word is life (see John 17:17). I committed the very things that He commanded me not to do; and I rationalized that God did not want me to have fun. I learned that life in Him was not boring; in fact, the Christian life is exhilarating. I learned that He wants us to recognize the consequences of a sinful lifestyle.

The Bible is not meant to keep you from enjoying the fun parts of  life;  but  it  is a  book  of  instructions  that prevent us  from distracting ourselves from our true purpose. Think about some of the problems in the world like sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, crime, hunger, homelessness, and other modern struggles. Did you know the Bible addresses every one of these things?  For example, the Bible tells us not to have premarital sex, and we think, Well, why not? It is not too hard to determine these reasons, and more of them reveal themselves every day, even to nonbelievers. Think of the troublesome effects of STDs, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and abandoned children. These things are not life, not the true life that Christ brings. They are certainly not what God wants us to go through. God is not trying to suppress our enjoyment. He is trying to lead us to a path that is free from the consequences that come as a result of sinful acts.  Do not misunderstand: not all fun involves sin. Not all sin is really fun; it just appears to be that way. God is really protecting us, and why is this? It is because He loves us.

What about You?

So many have similar stories of hurt, longing, betrayal, or cruelty. Maybe even you. Whatever the case may be, the emotional damage from these occurrences still negatively affects us.  I have found that most people are hurting as a result of bad choices. However, the hurt does not have to remain. On a number of occasions, God has worked what I would consider miracles within me. Finding life in Christ has by far been the most memorable and most drastic. People have asked me, “What did you do?” My answer has always been, it was not me; it was God. He was able to do it because in Jesus Christ is life.

He Came So We Might Have Life

I want to express what great lengths Jesus went in order to offer you true life. Several years back, we had the opportunity to see a very powerful and moving display of Christ’s death in the movie The Passion of the Christ.  It was a painful look at what Jesus suffered for the sake of mankind. I thank God for that movie. The movie revealed God’s love toward mankind, a love that is so strong that He wanted to give us a way to overcome sin and darkness. He accomplished this through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His only Son, as a sacrifice to pay off our debt to sin. Jesus came to give us life.

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 KJV).

Jesus came and was ridiculed, mocked, betrayed, spit on, persecuted, beat beyond human recognition, and crucified so that we may have life more abundantly.  This means an abundance of what life should really be, a life with our Creator. A life where He fulfills us even until eternity.

God loved us so much that He gave His only Son, and if we would believe in Him, we would not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus sacrificed Himself and took on the sin of the world so that we could have life the way it was meant to be, both now and in eternity; but it is a choice that each of us has to make. Each person has to make an individual decision to accept Him as his or her Lord and Savior.

This is lesson is about choosing to find true life in Christ. Our path to victory must begin with Jesus Christ. For a person who does not know Jesus as Lord, true victory is not achieved. Why? The answer can be found here:

‘Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”’ (John 10:7-10).

The role of a shepherd is to lead, provide for, and take care of the sheep. The shepherd loves his sheep. Jesus explained that a true shepherd will give up His life for his sheep’s well-being. However, the sheep are sometimes met with wolves and thieves who come to steal, kill, and destroy. We are the sheep, and because we are in a fallen world, some of the obstacles we have faced were because of the thief. However, Jesus is the true Shepherd of the sheep, and He came to bring us life.

Not to assume that everyone reading has made the choice to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, I want to offer the invitation to know the very Life Giver Himself.  God loves you, and He has made a way for your sins to be forgiven. He wants us all to know the freedom and joy of knowing Him, of knowing what true life is like.

Most people spend their entire lives trying to live life, when in truth, we should be trying to find the One Who holds the key to true life. I thank God that He has given us the opportunity to obtain true Life.

Self-Reflection Activity

Complete the following activity and be sure to journal your thoughts.

 

  • Read the following scriptures and consider what they mean to you: John 1:4; John 3:16–18; John 10:10.
  • Ask yourself: Have I made the decision within my heart to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord?
    • If you have not and wish to do so, take the time now. Look up and read Romans 10:8 –10 and confess your sins. In your own words, pray to the Father who is willing to forgive all of your sins.
    • Turn away from the lifestyle of sin and turn toward God’s way. This involves believing what the Bible says, taking to heart His scriptures and agreeing with God that His way is the right way. Now, actively search for a Bible-teaching church and begin your road to victory.
  • Do you find yourself becoming absorbed with many unfulfilling or even hurtful activities in order to fill a void in your life?
    • Make a list of current activities, relationships, and commitments.
    • Review this list and determine if any of these are getting in the way of your relationship with Christ. Keep in mind that even those who have been following Christ for many years have also found themselves occasionally distracted in their relationship with Christ.

Next Steps

Jesus said in Matthew 10:39 “…whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” One thing I have found is that when we set aside our problems and issues to serve others, in spite of what we are dealing with, we are richly blessed. Your assignment today is to perform an act of service toward someone else. It does not have to be big; the point is to give of yourself without reservation.

DID YOU ENJOY “Victory’s Road” BY AUTHOR Nicole C. Calhoun?

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