My favorite movie The Princess Bride was playing on television while I was laying on the sofa struggling through a back injury. Nearing the middle of the movie, Buttercup has a dream in which she is introduced as the princess. An older woman in the crowd boos her and accuses her, “… you had true love in your hands and you gave it up.” And then, “Your true love lives. And you marry another. True love saved her …”and my heart cringes.
Oh, perhaps this movie contains truths I would rather not face in myself. My true love Jesus lives, yet I tethered myself to drugs and alcohol when the past came back to haunt me – as if they could save me. Jesus saved me in my youth from death and destruction. He stepped into a life marked by brokenness, drunkenness, and immorality to invite me to live a life of grace, hope and love – a life of sobriety and purity – through a relationship with Him. I responded without fear or hesitation. Love. True love saved me – it is what I found in Jesus’s presence. Love that did not wish me harm or abuse me. Jesus’s love is true and pure, protects and gives good gifts.
When Jesus called me, I wasn’t afraid of what He might ask me to give up or what church said was necessary to live a righteous life. I wasn’t afraid that He would bring me harm. For the first time in my life I understood what it meant to be loved and accepted, to have an Advocate, Someone on my side. Jesus gave me love when I did not deserve it. He surrounded me with people who accepted me for who I was and who taught me to seek truth in Jesus. And His Word became my delight. I spent hours just devouring the Bible, reading, meditating and praying through it. I was a thirsty woman led to Living Water who drank deeply and discovered that true joy is in Jesus.
My true love Jesus lives! Praise God!
But even so, after knowing His joy and dwelling in His safety for more than two decades, I turned to something else to save me…to give me freedom from night terrors and panic attacks. I swallowed pills, injected poison, and spilled alcohol down my throat. My heart is deeply grieved over the foolish mistakes that I have made, but in the midst of it, I have a true love who did not give up on me. Just like Westley pursued Buttercup when she was being carried away by an enemy bent on her destruction, Jesus pursued me. He followed me into the miry pit of addiction and did not give up on me. Instead, He relentlessly followed me, called to me, and sought me. Jesus. Jesus has not given up on me – even when I nearly gave up on myself.
As Westley led Buttercup through the dangers of the fire swamp, saving her from the fire, rescuing her when she steps into the lightning sand, and bearing the injuries from the rodents of unusual size, Jesus is leading me. Seems kind of strange that Westley led his true love into danger to keep her from harm, but he did. In some ways, Jesus has done that for me. He has led me through the bitter circumstances of my past to keep me from the destruction of living with a gaping and infected wound. I am not facing flames or quicksand. Nor am I being attacked by rodents, but there are dangers in my life. The dangers come in whispered temptations to my heart. In the fire swamp, Westley taught Buttercup what to avoid, taught her the warning signs. Jesus has taught me and is continuing to teach me what the dangers are, and how to avoid them. He is constantly sweeping me off my feet and holding me in the safety of His arms. He is my refuge.
And just like Princess Buttercup, who realizes she is making a mistake and turns away from marrying the evil prince who really intends to kill her, I realized that I had turned to a false love that intended to destroy me. Immediately, I fled back to the arms of my Savior and asked Him to forgive my folly and sin, to wash away my unrighteousness. Of course, I received grace! He was with me all along, urging me to return to Him.
For you today: Is there anything that you are turning to for relief from physical, emotional or spiritual pain? If there is, I urge you to turn to Jesus. No matter what you are struggling with, He is the only One able to completely understand and to help you in your distress. Popping pills will only help you to numb the pain or to feel good for a little while. Shooting poison into your veins will only bring psuedo-peace that doesn’t last. Sex will only feel good for a moment. Food will only squash the pain for an instant. Getting lost in a television show will only distract from the pain for a little while. And in the end, these things will begin to destroy you, leave you feeling empty and betrayed. Lasting peace and joy are found only in Jesus.
The God who created you loves you and desires good for you. Whatever trial or struggle you are going through, may He give you eyes to see His goodness in the midst of it. May He cause your mind to call to mind all the ways He has displayed His mercies and compassions to you in the past! I know the road is broken and can be extremely painful, but you are never alone. Your True Love has saved you and is in your fire swamp with you! Listen to His voice and wait for Him to rescue you.
“I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:19-24 (emphasis mine)