Robert Lawless was born February 10, 1949 in Wheatland, Wyoming. His parents abandoned him when he was six months old along with his 18 month-old sister and 3 year-old brother. They were left in an apartment alone for two weeks and near death when Child Services found them. After spending several weeks in a hospital a Nebraska family named Lawless adopted Bob and his brother. He would never see his sister again. His new parents moved them to Salem, Oregon and then they divorced. At the age of fourteen, Bob went to live with an aunt and uncle. As a teenager his life was full of wildness, jail time and repeated failures.
At the age of seventeen, Bob enlisted in the Army for three years. In November of 1966 he flew to Vietnam to serve with the 503rdInfantry, 173rdAirborne Brigade. In that tropical environment he endured sniper fire and ‘jungle rot’ in his feet. He wrecked a jeep while driving drunk and went absent without leave (AWOL) for two weeks living with a Vietnamese girl. When he returned to his unit they immediately sent him into battle. Bob volunteered to carry the radio on a five man patrol and stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) imbedded in the trail. His entire left side looked like hamburger meat. In pain he would spend many months in hospitals as they tried to reconstruct his foot and left arm. Today he is still terribly scared.
After leaving the Army, Bob’s pattern of poor behavior continued as he joined an immoral crowd and for the next ten years repeatedly got into trouble. He started many jobs and even a college class but nothing lasted. Alcohol was a daily part of his life. At the age of thirty he married for the first time but the union only lasted eight months. Next he married a barmaid and stayed with her for six years. Then he pursued a woman in Quebec that he met on the internet. Later he married a woman in California. Because she had an adult daughter on drugs who constantly harangued him, he left after just two months.
Bob joined an Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) program and during that time he read their book about twelve steps to sobriety. Bob began to consider God’s love and desire to help him through Jesus Christ. His father came to visit him and later he moved to the Silver Valley in Idaho to be closer to his dad. Today he struggles with poor health but he lives as a forgiven man with peace in his soul. Eagerly he seeks to grow in his faith and live out his final days pleasing God.
Isaiah 38:17—Indeed, it was for my own welfare that I had such great bitterness; but Your love has delivered me from the Pit of destruction, for You have thrown all my sins behind Your back.
When King Hezekiah made the declaration above it was with the knowledge that God spared his life. Hezekiah battled pride and knew that he was impure before God. Yet, He believed that God not only extended his life, He forgave him. When God puts our sins behind His back, they are not just out of sight, they are eliminated. King David used a different metaphor to share the same concept, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psa. 103:12).
Are you burdened by sin that seems too hard to overcome? Are you haunted by past behavior you know offended God? Perhaps you have a track record that fills your heart with regrets. If anyone could have given up on redemption it would be Bob Lawless. Instead, he believed that God’s love was bigger than his infractions. Like Hezekiah, David and countless others, he found peace in forgiveness. So can you. Tell your heavenly Father you are sorry. Turn away from evil and let Him put your garbage behind His back. Only a perfect Lord who truly loves us can truly deliver!
We can never sail smoothly out of our past and into the future God has for us without forgiveness.—Stormie Omartian in The Power of a Praying Husband
©2013 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)