That Summer of 1981

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You also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead. Romans 7:4

I began that summer as the younger brother in Luke’s telling of the prodigal son. Arrogantly self-indulgent, I thought myself autonomous. But looking back, I see that sin ruled the day and I was enslaved to it. I tried in vain to break the cycle of sin and guilt by constructing my own morality. But that just set the cycle spinning over and over again.

I don’t remember the exact moment or the date in time that God’s love broke through to me. But I do know there dawned a revelation in my heart and mind that I had come to the end of myself.

At first, I was like an unruly child sitting on her father’s lap. I fought against him, alternating between fury and fear at the thought that anyone or anything would dare to hold me down. But, the more I struggled, the tighter he held me, and he did not let me fall.

I barely understood what was happening, but I did know this: a thirst for the goodness of God washed over me, and I began to experience a strange new freedom from the sinful desires that had for so long held me captive. For the first time in my life, I caught a glimpse of the beauty of truth and it was very much unlike the fleeting substitutes and lies I had often entertained.

Who was this ridiculously demonstrative, wildly benevolent King of the Universe who would sacrifice His perfect, beloved and only begotten Son for sinners yet sinning, for the ungodly still reveling in their ungodliness? What outrageously extravagant Love was this? And, how could it possibly be that this God (who is bigger and deeper and wider than I could ever have imagined back then) would have any interest in a rebel like me?

I died that summer, but slowly. My will, once so strong, began to melt and mingle with His. My heart, once so hardened, softened and became more malleable. Little by little, I relaxed into His Grace, surrendered to His mercy and yielded to His Love. I came to realize that I belonged to another and not myself.

He became my Abba Father.

That summer of 1981, the fullness of salvation was finally and fully revealed to me in the person of Jesus Christ. God’s Grace did its work and I ceased from mine.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

About Terrie van Baarsel


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