Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Forsaken Savior

All throughout scripture God assures of us the promise that He is always with us.  He gave that promise to Jacob, to Joshua, the people of Israel.  And Jesus gave us that same promise before his ascension into heaven.  Not only is God’s presence promised to us, but also His love, the patient, kind, faithful, enduring, never-failing love, is ours as well.  The passage that says it in a way no other does – spells it out, if you will – is Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These words are a wonderful assurance of how secure my relationship with the Father truly is.  Ever since I have known and experienced God’s love, I cannot imagine life without it.  I have not even tried to imagine. 

That is, until last night.  Last night’s Good Friday “Come Thirsty” Good Friday service centered around the last sayings of Jesus.
"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" 
In that moment Jesus had taken upon himself all of the sins of the world.  In that moment the wrath of God was poured out upon His only Son.

In that moment the assurance of God’s love, the oneness of the Son with the Father, was abruptly, violently, merciless taken from Jesus.

As the congregation listened and meditated on the message as it was being delivered, I imagined, what would it be like if every single promise the Bible gives us were taken from me, abruptly, violently, mercilessly? 

What would it be like if the God – the One who by His Holy Spirit lives inside of me – left my life without so much as a good-bye note?

Panic.  Anguish.  Inconsolable grief.

The physical suffering of Jesus was not enough to satisfy the wrath of God’s judgment.  The Savior experienced the heart-wrenching emotional and spiritual agony the Father must feel when we choose to live in an unrepentant broken relationship with Him.

Jesus, you suffered the anguish of separation from the Father’s love.  You did it for me, so I would never have to know the pain of such abandonment and forsakenness.  The promises of your presence and love mean much more now than ever before.  Your love for me is deeper, higher, wider than I can ever comprehend.  I thank you more than my words can ever express.  Amen.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Home Renovation

Psalm 139:23-24  Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

The apartment where I live is on the edge of a fairly upscale neighborhood.  The homeowners have for generations taken pride in their property, keeping their houses in top condition and their landscaping in beautiful shape.  Except for one.  This particular house is on a double-sized lot, boasts 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, an elevator(!) and guest/maid quarters, making it much larger than the neighboring homes.  In talking to some neighbors I learned that the owner was an older man who lived there.  His wife died years ago and their two sons have lives of their own in different parts of the country.  I do not know what kind of work the man did for a living, but I am told he was the male version of the “crazy cat lady,” at one time having over 20 cats!  He eventually became ill and could no longer maintain the home.  The house had fallen into a serious state of disrepair.  After the man was taken away by ambulance the condition inside and out had become so deteriorated and rat-infested that the city had to condemn the property.  This once beautiful home had become the neighborhood’s version of a “haunted mansion”.

The house "before" renovations
(but cleaned up for the probate sale)

About six months ago there was new activity at the house.  Rooms were being gutted out.  Trees and bushes that had become overgrown were trimmed back.  Trash dumpsters were on the street, filled with debris.  About a month or so I drove by in the evening and saw the lights on inside, even though it was evident the house was not yet occupied by new owners.  But the changes were happening.  The house now has a “For Sale” sign in the yard.  This past weekend the realtor held an Open House, so I stopped by to see the results of the transformation that had taken place.  The transformation is stunning!  The plumbing and electrical systems were replaced.  New flooring was installed, the landscaping now rivals other million dollar homes, and the kitchen has new state-of-the-art amenities.   And I am told they expect the elevator to be fully operational by the time the home is sold to a new family!

All spic n span, inside and out!

When I think of the transformation of this home (mansion) I can’t help but think of how the transformation by Jesus in our own lives is evident when we choose to become Followers of Jesus.  The Bible tells us that when we believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ our salvation is sealed; however, transformation from Fan to Follower is not a “once and done” deal.  Often our transformation means we must allow the Holy Spirit to “gut out” and replace certain things in our lives, such as unhealthy lifestyles, the entertainment we choose, sometimes even our jobs or relationships.  To maintain those changes we must surrender ourselves daily to prayer, Bible study, and to the will of God.  To neglect these things is to allow our lives to eventually deteriorate. But the good news is when we recognize and confess our state of disrepair (sin) to Jesus, he is faithful to forgive us and restore us from all unrighteousness!

And so my fellow ponderers, I offer these questions to you:
  • ·       What areas of my life do I need to allow Jesus to gut-out and renovate?
  • ·       Are there any renovated parts of my life that need to be cleaned up before they fall into disrepair?
  • ·       When others look at my life today as a Follower of Jesus, do others notice a difference from when I was only a Fan?

Dear God, we thank you that we can come to you just as we are yet you love us so much you do not want us to remain in our state of sin and disrepair forever.  Show us the rooms in our “homes” that need to be gutted out.  Ignite your Spirit within us that we may be constantly renewed as Followers of Christ.  Amen.