Years ago, my husband and I used to visit a juvenile detention center in Iowa where teens were incarcerated to protect them from themselves. They had strict rules of conduct to follow, counselors who were constantly watching to make sure they made right choices, and consequences if they chose to backslide.
We, along with other members of Christian Motorcycle Association, were there to provide them with a worship service where the gospel message was clearly presented. We had some who delivered a personal testimony, other members who played an instrument to lead in some simple worship songs, and someone who would present a short sermon leading to an opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Always, several young people would commit their life to the Lord, opening their heart to the follow-up studies that area churches lead on a weekly basis.
These young people learned Romans 6:11. It states that those who are followers of Jesus Christ can “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” By asking Jesus to take control of their lives, they could consider themselves dead to the wiles of the evil one. They could count on the fact that, with Jesus, they had someone who would give them the strength to resist temptation. They were no longer a slave to their impulses or their addictions, and they could take control of their lives once they were released from the center. They did not need someone to keep watch over them. They had Jesus.
These young people, and anyone who decides to allow Jesus to control them, discovered that life was so much sweeter when Jesus was calling the shots. They did not have to follow the crowd. They followed Jesus and He kept them clean, out of prison, and on a path that led to a fulfilling life free from addiction.
Were they free of ever making a mistake again? Never. But they certainly had tools to keep them from making as many life damaging choices as they had before. And they had someone to go to who would understand, forgive, and place them on the right path again. That’s what the authorities try to do when incarcerating them, but without Jesus, they return to the life they’ve always known and are bound to re-offend. Jesus offers them a choice and loves them through the transition to wholeness.
Take Jesus to those who are hurting. Offer them a choice. If you’ve never made this decision in your life, why not throw down your attempts to walk the straight and narrow. Do it with Jesus and He’ll keep your foot from sliding off the edge into a dangerous spot. Today can be the first day of the rest of your life making choices the benefit your life instead of leaving you with scar tissue. Think about it.
Barbara Ann Derksen has written five devotionals to date and is working on the sixth. Her books are read all across the US and Canada with a few, so far, sold in Europe.