When I was in about second grade I started seeing commercials for a new toy. It was some sort of character that was rubber and could be bent around and posed into any position. I think it was a secret agent. I loved secret agents back then. After seeing this wonderful toy being played with by really cool kids on TV, I knew I had to have it. When we would go to stores I would get my parents to let us look in the toy section. I had one mission. I would find that toy and admire it. The packaging showed the toy shooting guns and climbing and doing all sorts of secret agent-like things. After seeing how neat-o the packaging was, I knew I really had to have it. I began to ask my parents for it. I don’t remember how hard I had to work on them but I do remember that I got it. I finally had it.

I ripped it out of the package. It was a little smaller than I had envisioned it but it was still pretty cool. I made the little guy climb lamp cords and fall down the steps. He was a lot of fun. I was so proud to be the only kid on my block to own one of these. I asked mom if I could take it to school to show my friends. She said no. I didn’t understand why. She said that it would just get messed up if I took it to school. I think she meant it but I think she also meant that I would create a huge distraction playing with it during class and I would get into trouble. So I went to school and told my friends about the cool bendable secret agent toy. They were dying to see it. They thought I was so cool. I asked mom again but I made lots of promises about how I would take care of it and not get in trouble. She still said no.

So I took it anyway. I showed it to a kid on the bus as we were heading from my bus stop to the next. He wanted to see how much it would bend and ripped the head clean off. All that was left of my cool secret agent guy’s head was a little piece of wire sticking up out of his neck. It was a really long day. I was dreading telling my mom that I had disobeyed and gotten my great new toy destroyed just like she said. I didn’t even make it to the next bus stop.

This happened to me. I know it sounds like an episode of ‘Leave It To Beaver’. I wish I had only suffered as much as Beaver for all my disobedience. But this pattern of disobedience went on for a long time and caused much pain for me and anyone that loved me. I lived in turmoil and anxiety because I was disobedient. I selfishly did the things I wanted to do and wounded myself over and over again even though I was being told how to get through life encountering far less self-inflicted pain. The thing is, that I may feel independent and rebellious when I disobey God but I am not. I am obedient to someone else. I live under a set of rules and obey them. If I don’t choose God then someone else rules me.

Ephesians 2:1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

I would live under the rule of the devil. The devil would reward me with temporary happiness followed by pain and regret. God continued to offer me mercy through it all. Sometimes I wish He would have just pounded me a good one on the head and forced me to do the right thing. But He allows me to come to Him.

Ephesians 4:4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

He takes me in His arms when I come to Him and confess my disobedience. He doesn’t say, “I told you so!” He instructs me and disciplines me so that I can have peace when it isn’t possible to have peace, joy when there is not joy to be found and hope when all hope is lost. God’s grace does all this for me and more! It is only by His grace that I have been saved from the rule of the devil.

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