Last night I finished chapter 89 and page 401 of Ahab’s Wife, my book club month for June. This book has enthralled me from the beginning, and I am still eager to read the remaining 300 or so pages. I like the book primarily because the author has a splendid gift for writing and an uncanny ability to describe human emotions and character traits in a way that opens the eyes of the reader.
One character, Una’s father, is a man driving to taking his own life after an empty lifetime of life-sucking religious pursuit. "Religion closed his mind with a darkness,“ is how his wife remembered him years after he died. His religion forges a great gaping divide in the father/daughter relationship. Una is even forced to leave home and live with her aunt because her father could not bear her religious rebellion any longer. He would quote Scriptures that were plucked out of context just to wield power over his daughter. All of the religious things he held so high ended up leading him to death.
The author really spoke to a subject that has been invading my heart lately – namely, that religion leads to death. When you think of religion, what comes to mind? Laws, rules, good works, church attendance, devoutness, etc. With those associations coming to mind, I can understand why less and less people are walking into churches these days.
I used to call myself a "religious person” but I no longer claim that title. The faith that I have in Jesus is not founded on laws, rule-following, church-attending, or my own good works. I used to be religious. I know what that’s like. It’s a never-ending cycle. You try and try but fail. When you fail, there’s guilt or shame. Then you pick yourself up to try and try again. Not before long, you’ve left that mountain top and fallen in the pit again. It’s tiring. Without an escape, it leads to despair and spiritual deadness.
I thank God every day for saving me from that deadening cycle and giving me freedom and a full life through Jesus. I now experience a deep joy, a path that is filled with hope, and a genuine love that compels me to bless others. Jesus cancelled all debt that I owed to God now and forevermore by living a perfect life and sacrificing Himself on our behalf. My debt has been paid; now I walk with a song of joy that I have been forgiven and I am free to live fully!