Saturday, September 19, 2015

Dear You

This post might be a little different than the others on this blog.

Actually, it's definitely going to be a lot different. Last Sunday I spoke with a guy who has a sister around my age (maybe a little older). He also has a niece.

He spoke of sadness, of mistakes, of pain. He spoke of anger and frustration and shame. He spoke of hiding and hurt feelings. 

He spoke of a girl who knew she'd done wrong and had convinced herself that God could not forgive her for it. A girl who was hurt and angry and alone. 

He spoke of a family who was hurt and broken and probably confused. He spoke of locks being changed and a girl moving out.

He spoke of sin and people that made mistakes. 

In his story there didn't seem to be any good guys at all. Every character had a flaw or a mistake or something that fellow humans were afraid to get close to or forgive.

I don't want to embellish this story or make it something it isn't. I don't want to take sides. But I want to say this- even if you can't relate much to the hopefully very vague details of this story...please keep reading. I want you to hear this.



Dear You,

I don't know where you're from or what your story is. I don't want to pretend to. I don't want to preach you a sermon or condemn your actions or tell you that you've made a huge mistake.

Because face it, we all have. We should all be condemned to death and we should all be screamed at and told that we're unforgivable because our mistake was way too big. We shouldn't be even remotely close to forgiveness. 

And almost since the beginning of the world, we haven't been. Because a woman- a girl, like you and me- made a Big Mistake. The Biggest Mistake, you could almost say. And because of her mistake way back in Genesis 3, we all get the death penalty automatically. Because she'd sort of tampered with our DNA- she'd added a component that wasn't supposed to be there. And this wasn't a component that slowly faded away, no sir. This was here to stay and it wasn't going to fade or diminish.

She added sin to our DNA. She traded our relationship with a perfect God for a chance to know what was right and what was wrong.

But until that day in the Garden there had been no wrong. When she wanted to know what was good and what was evil, she did wrong and let wrong happen. She said, "I want to know," (I know I've definitely said that a time or fifty-eight in my short life so I'm sure she wasn't saying anything uncommon in the female world) and she traded a relationship for facts. 

I can't blame here. If it had been me, I would have probably done the same thing. But I sermonize. 

She started it, we could say. But as we've all heard a thousand times, it doesn't matter who starts it. Sometimes it matters most who finishes it.

And it's been finished. She broke what God had made so beautiful, and it's been fixed- held together by arms opened on a cross, started over by a life come back from the grave, finished by a love greater than the Biggest Mistake.

When God gave His Only Son up on that cross, Jesus paid the price for sin.

Not my sin.

Not your sin.

Not the sin that had been committed up to that point.

Not the sin that would be committed by unbelievers.

The Bible doesn't say that.

It says Jesus died and rose again for our sin. 

Our sin.

Yours and mine and past sin and unbelievers sin and sin that has yet to happen and sin that we all are afraid to talk about or get close to or forgive.

He forgave it. 

He did more than forgive it- He washed it away, scratched it out, put White-Out over it. 

He unhappened it. 

To me that says we have no right to hang on to it and say, "God, You can't forgive this, You wouldn't, it's too ugly, I messed up too much."

Saying that sounds almost like saying Jesus wasn't enough to take care of your sin. 

I think maybe God doesn't really feel so good about hearing that. 

Because He loves you, and He gave everything He had to win you back. Your Big Mistake didn't surprise Him at all. I know it hurt and you felt bad and it probably surprised you a little (or a lot) but God doesn't get surprised. EVER. About anything. 

When He planned the world, He planned your life too, with all of the little details- your first word, the first time you kicked in your mom's womb, the first tear you shed, the first lie you told. All of it. Every mistake, every joy, every smile, every tear- He cataloged it and planned it and designed it. 

So nothing you've done or ever will do will surprise Him, and He knows the rest of your story. He's got it figured out. You can trust Him in that. And if you'll let Him, He's beyond ready to forgive you and restore you and start rebuilding you. You never lost His love or forgiveness. He wants you to see that and believe it and trust Him when He says, "I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Don't hide from Him or run from His place and His people. He's forgiven you no matter what, and as hard as it is to believe (I know this from experience of my own) His forgiveness is all that matters.

Run to Him. He loves you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sorry?

I had kind of a weird thought run through my head recently. I don't remember exactly what started the thought process, even, just that I was sitting on my bedroom floor and this thought jumped into my mind.

God doesn't want my 'sorry.'

Now I am generally very much in control of my thoughts, so when a random one pops up in my head, it's best for me to sit up and take notice.

The thought bothered me a little. I mean, God surely doesn't want us to just move on with our life when we do something that is against Him; He doesn't want us to act like nothing happened, right?

Right?

Right. I mean, what kind of 'just God' would that be? It doesn't strike me as very just to let people break all your rules and not expect some sort of apology or something to make it good.

The fact is, God doesn't do that. We mess up and He will not let it slide.

But He doesn't want our apology either.

When we mess up, say, we lash out at someone irrationally, God does not want us to say "I'm sorry, God," or any variation of that, and move on with our life.

He wants it to have never happened.

That poses a slight problem for us as humans. God in His wisdom didn't give us a delete or restart button for life. I mean, imagine the chaos if He had! Say two people get into a car accident. The guy that caused the accident hits his delete button because what the heck, he doesn't want to pay for the other guy's busted fender. So his part in the accident has been unhappened.

But the other guy would love to collect some insurance on that if he could, so he doesn't unhappen his part. And the poor police people get really confused because they've got some guy with a concussion and a broken fender, and then it's like the other guy that caused the accident didn't happen and what even actually happened here?

You see what I mean. No delete or restart buttons for us. We'd never get anywhere. God knew that and He decided, 'yeah, no, bad idea for earthlings.'

So when we mess up (and we earthlings are pretty darn good at that), we're stuck. We can't undo it.

But Someone else could.

I can just see Jesus up there, watching and thinking, 'dang it, those humans aren't doing so good down there.' Then maybe He turns to the throne and says, "Dad, when's the plan happening?"

And God says, "Well, Son, right about now."

So then Jesus was born, the perfect Son of God, born in a dirty little stable in some tiny little town.

I can kind of see some of the angels up there going, "God, that's Your plan?"

And God just grins and says, "Just watch. It gets good."

And it really did get good! Jesus grew up and man He wasn't anything to look at, but people loved Him because He loved them. He didn't curse at the women and send them away, He healed them and forgave them. He didn't scoff at the tax collectors or the lepers, He loved them. He wasn't too busy for their children, He blessed them. He provided wine when there was no more. He healed and restored and beautified and made right.

The angels danced, because it was good.

But it wasn't all good. Not everyone wanted Jesus around. He was a rule-breaker, a New Way Maker, a rebel. He was new and they didn't get it, because sometimes we can study and study and study Scriptures until our eyes fall out but if we're not in tune with God and loving Him with our whole heart, we just miss things. He was not comfortable. And they wanted Him gone. Out of the picture, so they could keep on with their normal, comfortable lives.

But normal, comfortable lives sometimes get messed up by the humans that live them, and we can't fix it.

These comfortable people wanted Jesus to just go away, and they hatched a plan to do just that.

Turns out, the best way to get someone to go away is to just off them. Kill them. It was like they murdered Jesus, legally. Because they jumped through all the hoops, they avoided all the obstacles, they wove a web of deception so tight that no ruler wanted to deal with the Jews and their Jesus. "Whatever, do whatever you want with Him, just get Him out of here and don't let the people riot."

So they did. They lashed Him until He was unrecognizable, and then when He was practically dead they hung Him on a cross and left Him there. And then the people hated Him.

Most of the time, it takes a while before crucifixion actually kills you. You're in tons of excruciating pain for a while, but it won't kill you immediately. Now the Jews had a problem. These criminals and Jesus needed to be dead soon, because tomorrow was Passover and they couldn't have any dead bodies laying around then. So they sent some guards around to break the men's legs, which in turn would have killed them faster.

But Jesus was already dead. There's a prophesy in the Bible that says that not one of Jesus's bones would be broken, and it was fulfilled that day. They didn't need to speed up His death, because He had already died.

The plan of the Jews was complete. Jesus was dead, life could go back to normal. The best way to get rid of someone apparently really was to kill them.

But Jesus wasn't someone.

He was Someone, and He had a mission to complete.

We couldn't undo our sin, but He could because He had no sin of His own and He was willing to die for ours. He gave Himself when we could not pay for our mistakes, and He was enough. He undid everything we couldn't undo- starting with our punishment.

The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. We earned death, fair and square.

Jesus undid it. He died, even though He didn't have to, and death was defeated because He said 'wait.' There's a line in a fairly new song (I'd love to tell you what it's called, but I can't remember it right now) that says "The same power/that commanded death to wait" and as I'm typing this that line is playing over and over in my head. Jesus died, and said "No, death, you cannot keep Me."

And on the third day He came back because it was undone and we could be free.

Jesus is the Great Undoer. He undid our punishment and if we believe in what He did for us He will undo everything we have done that is against God.

All He asks of us is our repentance. Not apologies. Repentance. That we turn from our sin and cry out to God and say "Break me, empty me of this and restore me to the beautiful thing You created."

Not, "Sorry, God."

Repentance. "Take this from me and make me more like You. I want nothing more to do with this. I am Yours and Yours alone and I don't want this sin in me anymore."

Repentance.

That's a great word.