"You meant it for evil but God meant it for good."
Those are words I have been repeating to myself with ever increasing sincerity and strength. In my mind I speak it to satan. In every corner of the world he is actively at work trying to undermine the peace, joy and spiritual prosperity of believers both young and old. He prides himself on breaking apart families, stealing children's futures and ravaging the hopes of believers. His weaponry includes lies, deceit and heartache. Sorrow is his specialty and destruction is his delight.
Over the years I've experienced the onslaught of satan's attacks. In the dark days of battle I've experienced satan make advances that fill me with regret. In my own heart I've allowed satan to infiltrate God's territory with sin. At my worst I invited in the enemy and let him claim victory - at least temporarily. I look back on my past and see that I once lived blinded by darkness. I stopped fighting against the attacks of the devil altogether and, instead, joined his forces. I took off the armor of God's truth and paraded about in the nakedness that I believed was freedom. Little did I know I was actually imprisoned, chained to a dead-end life and bleak future.
But what satan meant for evil - the chains he intended to shackle me - God meant for good.
It was those very chains, too heavy for me to carry while running free and full of joy, God used to pull me back to himself. When I couldn't move an inch further under the weight of slavery, God came with the Key to life and freed me from captivity.
Satan tricked me into believing that a life of sin would be fun and fulfilling. I could find love, freedom and endless good times if I alone could choose my steps and determine my future. So he waved in front of me every sin in the book. He draped them in bright colors and appealing designs but underneath they were all the same. Lies. Deceit. Corruption. Big, heavy, burdensome chains. He loaded them on, chuckling all the way because he knew the trap he was setting was ultimate my demise. Every sinful road I traveled down separated me from God and brought me closer to the evil destiny of the devil's design.
But what satan meant for my destruction, God meant for my restoration.
Along that sinful path the chains became too much for me to bear. Satan had loaded me up beyond my capacity to move forward. The road was too treacherous and the weight too much for me to take. I stumbled and fell. Where I landed was right at the foot of the cross, the place God intended to make me good - eternally and endlessly good.
At the foot of the cross satan's lies were exposed for the sadness, stress and brokenness they caused. The destructive plan set by the devil was exposed. The chains of sin that bound me were loosened and true freedom was found.
At the foot of the cross, down on my knees, I met Jesus. When I fell and couldn't travel away from his truth any longer I found myself face down in front of His forgiveness. His way was the only way up. Surrender to His authority and kingship was the only way out of the chains that were binding me in pain and destruction. Finally, I found what I had been looking for. I found the freedom I had foolishly believed I was choosing all along.
Satan thought he had me forever a fool but God proved to have me forever forgiven and free. Satan thought his chains would bind me to destruction. God knew the chains would lead me to the cross.
Today those same chains are binding countless wayward children of God. But, fear not believers because the story isn't over yet. What satan is meaning for ill, God can and will use for good.
The end of this story is already written and Christ wins. He breaks the chains that bind. He frees captives and releases slaves. He meets sinners on their knees when they can't take another step forward. He means all the hurt, pain, sin and shame for good. He means it for salvation when sinners stumble, fall and surrender at the foot of His forgiveness and grace.