Perhaps the thing I remember most about my father was going fishing with him. I went to live with my father and stepmother when I was ten.
Having been raised in the Bronx, I didn’t know anything about fishing. My father quickly taught me the essentials, but after I caught my first fish, I thought I knew it all. I was forever having trouble with my fishing line, though. It always got tangled on me. Every time my father tried to help me untangle my line, I would say, “I know how to do it!” And that always made a bigger mess.
If I’d have been wise, I would have given my pole to him and said, “I can’t untangle this, Daddy. Can you help me?”
Help and fish were right there, but I forfeited them both because of my stubbornness. I thought I knew more about the situation than my father, who was a seasoned fisherman.
That was the problem most of my life.
As a young man, I thought I had all the answers and did things my way. I thought I was smarter and tougher than everyone. To me, humbling myself to listen to others else seemed weak.
The Bible says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV).
Eventually, that stubborn, prideful thinking landed me behind prison fences. But God has used my circumstance to teach me and prepare me for the future. The biggest thing I have learned is to go to Him for help.
In prison, God showed me that I needed to be smart enough to figure out that I am not very smart. When I took His advice, He taught me how to untangle the messes I’d made in my life. When I turned my filthy actions and cluttered mind over to Him and emptied my life of destructive habits, I began to experience a new life in Jesus Christ. He untangled me.
My bad habits did not disappear overnight. Problems didn’t fade away just because I was a Christian. Fortunately, my heavenly Father is a God of second chances. With Him, all things are possible. On my own, no matter how much I tried to be good, I fell back into my foolish, useless, and evil ways. But God’s grace is always greater than my sin.
There are two sides to the Christian life. On the one hand, we are complete in Christ. On the other, we must grow in Christ daily. We have the status of kings and the duties of slaves. We feel both the presence of Christ and the pressure of sin. We want to follow God, but our flesh demands to be satisfied. We enjoy the peace that comes from being made right with God, but we still face problems daily.
If we remember these two sides of the Christian life, we won’t be discouraged when we face temptation and problems. Instead, we’ll depend on the power we have through Christ who lives in us by the Holy Spirit. When we acknowledge Him in all we do, He directs our paths (Proverbs 3:5).
Even though I am still in prison because of the mistakes I made in my past, my hope is strong. Jesus Christ is the anchor of my soul (Hebrews 6:19). I cling to Him through every trial. He lights dark tunnels and guides me through every trying situation. He never disappoints me. When one door closes, He opens another one with something better.
My faith tells me I can trust God to restore my life piece by piece. Nothing in my life is too messy for Him to straighten.
Nothing in your life is too messy for Him to straighten, either. Your life may feel like one tangled mess. Just remember, there is no mess too big for God.
He will never give up on you. He will stay by your side and work with you to untangle each part of your life and, in the process, He will make you more like His Son, Jesus. But to start the untangling process, you must come to Him and admit that you need His help.
God is the only One who knows the way out of your mess. He is the only One who can give you the strength to not give up. Don’t ignore your heavenly Father’s help.