"I have screwed up big time. If you can do anything with my life, please do."
That was the eloquent prayer I prayed in the early months of 1989. I was 17 and pregnant. I had dropped out of regular high school. My boyfriend was out of the picture. My friends were going on with their senior year. I was depressed. I was without hope. I slept in until noon and watched soap operas, and I was pretty sure my life was over ...
But then I dared to hope.
I dared to believe my Sunday School teacher who'd told me, years before, that Jesus loved me. I dared to trust that God could and would forgive me for my mistakes. I took a step of faith, praying to God to rescue me. I trusted that if I turned my life over to Jesus that he could give me a good future–even though I couldn't see it or imagine it.
As I prayed those words, "If you can do anything with my life, please do," I did not just pray them and then continue living and thinking in the destructive ways that got me where I was. Instead, I knew I needed to do my part.
I started reading my Bible. I started praying. I stopped watching television that promoted ungodly living, lust, destruction and darkness.
I stopped listening to music that turned my mind away from God. I instead listened to music that praised God and promoted right living. I surrounded myself with Christian friends. I attended church and modeled my life after those who were serving God. I prayed for my future, myself and my son.
I worked to control my tongue. I sought forgiveness when I messed up. I got on my knees, and I confessed when I messed up. I shared with others what God was doing in my life. I spent time reading the Bible.
I did not change overnight. I still cussed and cursed at times. I was drawn to bad situations. I dishonored God at times. I made bad choices. I clung to pleasures of my flesh. In fact, these are all still things that I battle with.
But the more I sought God, turned to Him, read His Word, walked away from ungodliness and surrounded myself with people who loved God, the more I changed. It's choosing the right way—God's way—and turning my back on all that led me down the destructive path that made all the difference in my life.
God does not expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to seek Him for guidance, strength, wisdom and the strength to make right choices. We do this through reading God's Word, prayer and following examples of those who put Him first.
He has done amazing things with my life—more than I can imagine. And I know that He can do the same with yours.
Tricia Goyer has written more than 35 books, including both novels that delight and entertain readers and nonfiction titles that offer encouragement and hope. She has also published more than 500 articles in national publications such as Guideposts, Thriving Family, Proverbs 31, and HomeLife Magazine.