English Standard Version (ESV)
Imagine a country that is dark and dreary, where hopelessness reigns over every nook and cranny, where the sun is never fully out and there is a persistent rain that drowns any cheery thoughts. Imagine that you have no hope of leaving this place, and you must drudge from chore to chore and task to task, all the while knowing deep within that there is a land of verdant beauty where the sun always shines and there is abundance around every corner. Now imagine the heartbreak of knowing that it was your own stubborn will that made the choice as to which place to live, because you didn't fully realize the implications of your choice at the time.
Sin reigns over us, and while at times we think that sin can provide joy, in reality it only more deeply enslaves us, all the while deceiving us into thinking that we can be happy without God. We choose our lot, despite knowing that there is a better way, because the better way seems difficult and uncertain, and we crave certainty.
Grace reigns through Christ Jesus, and he has made a way through out of the dreary and deathly land of sin, so that we may be redeemed and live in the Kingdom of God forever. May we rejoice as we realize what an incredible & free gift this is, for our hearts are free to hope and our lives are free to serve the God who makes true life possible!