Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink. (Ps. 69:14)

THE TRUISM WAS DRILLED into me during my teenage years: “You’re known by the company you keep.” If I wanted the respect of the people who mattered the most to me, I needed to guard my reputation by not hanging out with the wrong crowd. So I chose friends who didn’t drink or smoke or swear and who got good grades in school. Sadly, instead of being proud of me, my parents compared me to my friends and found me lacking. No matter how hard I tried, my best was never good enough.

I carried the scars of their disapproval and rejection into adulthood and, sadly, into my relationship with the Lord. I desperately wanted to please Him, but I always felt that I fell far short of what a real Christian should be. One day the voice of the Accuser was so strong and believable that he convinced me to take off the cross I wore around my neck so I wouldn’t disgrace the Lord I loved and longed to serve.

The despair I felt was evident when my husband asked me what was wrong. I finally confessed what I had done. He was shocked and immediately took me back to the place beside the river where I had left my cross on a rock. Amazingly, it was still there. So was the Lord and His forgiveness and love.

Ask the Lord to help you listen to His voice and not the voice of the Accuser.

Marlene Bagnull will celebrate fifty-two years of marriage in November with her husband, Paul. They have three grown children and three grandchildren.