There's a story of a woman in John 8 who was caught in the act of adultery by the religious leaders. Those who caught her, waited by with heavy stones in their hands waiting to stone her for her unforgivable sin. They waited to see how Jesus would respond, and without a word, He began to write in the dirt.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
I can imagine the fear, shame, and devastation she was feeling-- the regret and scars of her awful choices. I can imagine the breath caught in her lungs waiting for the first hit, but it never came. Instead, she was given a second chance to leave her life of sin. I've been baffled by this story for so long. How could she be forgiven and how could she forget what she did? How could she face anyone who knew her past? Even though her past didn't change, her identity did. She didn't have to identify any longer with her past, Jesus restored her soul.
The woman was able to walk away because her soul was restored. The leaders only saw her as broken and irredeemable. Jesus saw her as his beloved and breathtaking. He redeemed and completed that work in her immediately. She didn't have to fear falling back into her old life, because that was no longer her identity.
You don't need to be caught in the act of adultery to know how isolating and fearful it is to be stuck in a decision you regret, a situation you can't make right, or a relationship that is hurting you or others. I can go to doctors to help restore my body after an injury or surgery. I can see a therapist work out the mindsets that keep me locked into hurtful habits and hangups. There is only one thing I cannot receive from anyone other than God, a restored soul. That's how I want to be identified. I want to leave my past that left me breathless and walk toward a future that leaves me beloved and breathtaking. I want a life of promise that believes hope rises again.