This was originally posted on 10/24/13. As we reflect on the blessing it has been to see thousands of people saved and changed by Jesus at Mars Hill Church we want to share some of these stories with you again as they are a testament to God’s amazing grace on us.
This is Anie's story. Anie was a member for seven years and a deacon at Mars Hill Shoreline. She has a love for Jesus and people that is evident in her ebullient personality and gregarious humor. Prepare to hear God’s story of redemption; a story of sin and rebellion, forgiveness, mercy, restoration, and joy.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’” Genesis 1:26–28
At an early age, most kids in our culture are exposed to the concept that we are created by something. The question we have to answer for ourselves at some point is: “Is it the will of God or the will of man that decides who lives and who dies?” If I’m being down right honest, for much of my life I thought I got to decide. What a terrifyingly vulnerable reality life is when you don’t know God as your creator and protector. This denial had me willingly falling into the hands of the enemy.
Lost and broken
This is not easy to admit and is a struggle to put out there. In my story there is chaos, carelessness, paralyzing fear, chosen blindness, outright rebellion, shame, brokenness, longing, and much more.
These things defined much of my life, and I can never pay the cost of that path. A Savior was (and is) definitely required. I was asked to speak on one of the Ten Commandments for our Women’s Midweek Study and while researching the speaking topics, I tried to stare at literally all the others, but my heart burst when I saw this one. Without Jesus’ atonement for me on the cross, I literally have blood stained hands. I have committed murder not once, not twice, but three times.
I had my abortions between ages 19 and 21. I was living in Seattle with a boyfriend I should have never had. He was 7 years older than me and wanted to get married but did not want kids. I never wanted to be married because I didn’t see the point of it. Growing up, I only ever saw marriages that ended in divorce. I thought the Beaver Cleaver days were over and divorce just seemed like a really expensive break up.
During this time, making the choice to destroy my babies came out of a larger-than-life fear and distrust. I absolutely did not believe that God was in control; otherwise he would have chosen better timing for these pregnancies. In my selfishness, I took no responsibility for my role in the situation because I had been using birth control and it kept failing.
I gave my babies and myself over to terrible lies, believing that I was doing them a favor by not forcing them to experience what “I could offer” at the time. I wanted more for them. My act wasn’t cleaned up enough and I had no sense of direction for how to make it happen. They were murdered at my hands because I did not trust God and foolishly thought I should decide what was best.
God chased my heart
In time, Jesus revealed himself to me. He gave me a man that actually loved me and pursued me by showing me grace when I least deserved it. That man is now my husband and we’ve been married for nine years. Jesus used the man who would become my husband to tell me the truth that abortion is murder 12 years ago (although I didn’t believe that for a long time). He told me he forgave me and loved me anyway. That made me so angry I exploded and cussed him out. I was so mad I was ready to decapitate him. I don’t think he’s ever heard that much swearing at one time in his entire life. Who did this guy think he was to “forgive me” for deciding what was best for my life and that of my own children?
That turned out to be a very defining moment in my life because that’s when the Holy Spirit planted the seed of regret and realization that the decision to abort my children was bigger than anything I understood. I could see myself building a future with this man, but we had very different foundations of authority. Though he was backsliding as a Christian, he knew who he was; he belonged to Christ, and he knew who I really needed to meet.
Jesus ran hard after me for the next five years and started to unpack the work of the cross in my heart. For some people this happens overnight, but for me and my stubbornness, God was gracious and patient, transforming me by the renewal of my mind. I started to hear his word, see truth revealed, have the foundations I had made for myself challenged, and my denial dealt with. I was humbled to see I was just plain wrong about most things that I had held a stubborn position on because they kept me as a god for myself.
Searching for the truth
“Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4
I came to know this passage from Ezekiel as truth about God and the life he breathes into people. But as I realized what that verse meant—hello Guilt and his brother Condemnation! Realizing my part in Jesus’ death and my children’s deaths took time. It was crushingly overwhelming to arrive at the truth of it all. I murdered Jesus and my babies. How could I be given anything but a life sentence and a thrown away key? Why? Why would God even bother with me now or ever again?
How? How could I—how could you—accept that abortion is murder and not have to be slaughtered for it? One word: repentance. I needed to be taken where I couldn’t go emotionally in order to understand why Jesus’ price was so high. I had to face my sin in order to really receive the work done on the cross and be made new, to be made whole now and forever. I needed to be brought to repentance so I could receive forgiveness. I didn’t understand that repentance is actually a heart transformation from the Holy Spirit and its true meaning is freedom.
My heart could not and did not receive the cross fully for so long. Even today, it still needs frequent reminding that God has called me by name in spite of myself and my choices. He loves me literally through death and, because of that, he paid it all. The truth is that my sin has been answered for. Nothing can, will, or gets to change that.
Being probed to “go there,” back to my shame shackles and to face naming my sin, feeling the pain, grieving the loss, seemed like too much. I needed to truly see what Jesus had done for my atonement, but I also needed to understand that my part in that sinful choice required someone’s bloodshed. I would have never chosen to face that. Jesus needed to show me what atonement was in order for me to not only accept his forgiveness, but also so I could see that I had to forgive myself.
The gospel will set you free
I’m not going to assume you know what atonement really is, since I didn’t. It is the reconciliation of God and mankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:12–16
Whatever your thing or secret is that you have done so wrong—whether it was once or 500 times—if you have received the work of the cross you have been cleared of your death debt and shame is no longer welcome to hinder you. This cannot be undone. The Author writes the ending, not the characters.
When I stand before God, my accuser will hiss his nasty accusations just as he does now, but I stand before you now as living proof that Jesus saves, covers sin, and changes hearts dramatically and drastically. He rescues his people no matter how bad their story is.
“Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:6
Can you see the immeasurable, inconceivable amount of love and grace poured out for us to experience when we give ourselves to him? Does that even seem possible? Well, it is, by the blood of Jesus Christ! I continue to be shown that God chooses and uses the most unlikely people for his glory. If you are broken by shame, as I was, and seek forgiveness, as I did, take the deal: your sin for his righteousness. Don’t let his death be for nothing. Let it be for you and your sin. You need to be reconciled! Go. Go to the cross with your brokenness and lay it there with a heart of repentance. Own it and let your shackles be cut for your freedom and his glory. You owe him more than your heart, but that’s where he starts.
Blessing upon blessing
God has redeemed and blessed me so much today. He changed mine and my husband’s heart, turning our relationship into something that glorifies him. It is an interesting and amazing grace that I took three lives and God answered me with what I don’t deserve: three beautiful daughters.
I want to praise God all the rest of my days for finally understanding his grace and being brought to repentance. I’ve finally stopped trying to control the hurt and give it to God so that what I meant for evil he will use for good. All I can say is I finally get that he really does just meet you right where you are, and because you left him doesn’t mean he ever leaves you. His promise is faithfulness to us even when we are faithless to him. When you are his, you are his. The pursuit is endless.
Jesus died for everyone
If God can save murderers through Jesus, can he not save you and change your story to give it an ending you never thought possible?
I pray for you who are reading this today and, if you truly don’t know Jesus, I pray you ask him to show you what redemption means. I pray that Jesus shows you who he is and what his will for you is. Then, expect to see it. He has always been ready for you, so run, don’t walk. You are loved, precious, and very expensive. Don’t let the sun go down one more day without knowing who he says you are and get to be because of what Jesus has done.
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1