The Bondage of Being Free

Freedom is not an end in itself like everyone seems to think.

Think it through with me for a minute.

Let’s say you are free to commit adultery.

It might feel good for a while, but then something begins to change.

You discover your freedom consists in lying about the affair.

You’re now covering your tracks.   Guilty

You’re having difficulty remembering what you said to whom and keeping the lies straight so you don’t contradict yourself.

There’s the fear of being caught.

There’s the unknown reaction of your spouse if he or she finds out.

Before you know it you’re living like a criminal.

You thought you’d feel alive and young again. Instead you’re walking around with the burden of your guilty conscience and it’s a heavy weight.

Where’s the freedom in that?

In truth, freedom from God’s law means bondage.

We all live guilty lives. We were born guilty, did you know that?

That sweet little baby, all wrapped up in his mother’s arms, has a label on him.

Guilty!

That’s why we need a Savior.

Christ came and died on the cross in our place, bearing our punishment, absorbing the fullness of divine justice for us.

He died so he could free us, not to indulge the flesh,  but to delight in serving God.

God has no slaves, only grateful sons.

Now that’s a life of true freedom.

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Mind the Gap

If you’ve been to London and taken the tube you’ve heard the recording that says, “Mind the Gap” that comes on at every stop. It’s a mantra. That’s because there is a space between the subway car and the platform large enough to lose a shoe in. I’ve seen it happen.

The idea of a gap between two realities is also prevalent in the bible, and it’s not a tiny space like the London tube. It’s immense. It’s as large as earth to Mars, only bigger. It’s the tension of the now and not yet. We are saved now but the reality of its fullness is not ours yet. That comes when Jesus returns or we die and go to be with him, whichever comes first. photo (8)

We see this tension fleshed out in the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 16. Here we see Sarah’s impatience with God to give her a son, so she takes matters into her own hands by suggesting to Abraham that he sleep with Hagar, her maid, and produce the child that way, something that Abraham did not resist, by the way.

We see Sarah’s struggles with God’s timing, which reveals Sarah’s doubt of God’s character. Why is he taking so long? It’s been ten years already and nothing’s happened. Can I continue to trust him? Underneath it all is a suspicion of God’s goodness. Can’t you hear the same echos of the devil saying the same thing to Eve in Genesis 3?

Here we see Abraham and Sarah living in the gap between what God had promised and their unfulfilled expectations.

I see this played out in my life and in the lives of family and friends. We long for close, intimate and satisfying relationships. Instead we live with distance, misunderstandings, and heartache. We long for satisfying work. Instead we grumble and complain because of the boredom. We want glory here and now, but God says not yet, it’s coming soon.

What can we learn from this? Here are three insights:

1) Living in the gap of the now and not yet tempts us to take matters into our hands. The underlying assumption is that we can fix the problems ourselves like Abraham and Sarah did. But instead of fixing things, we make a mess of things.

2) While living in the gap, we continue to be faithful to what God has called us to. We trust God’s faithfulness. That doesn’t mean we take no action, but it does mean we do things believing God is for us and not against us.

3) God doesn’t go AWOL in the gap and in our messes. He doesn’t flee to heaven and wait for us to figure out ways to make it home. If he did that, nobody would get home. He’s there working in the gap. He’s a God who sees and hears and is in the middle of the mess. That’s what he has promised to do. And ultimately he will fulfill all his promises to us. We don’t know how or when, but it will happen.

You won’t lose God in the gap. There is joy, freedom and laughter there if we trust him for the reality that’s coming.

Question: What are some of the ways you take matters into your hands while living in the gap?

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Are You Ready to Take a Risk?

On the subway last week, I noticed a Hispanic woman get on, in her 50’s, sit down and pull out a book in Spanish with a kneeling picture of a praying Jesus on the cover. The title of the book was, “How To Move Away from Depression.” She read it with her lips moving. I began to pray for her. I was two rows behind her. The car was packed. I told the Lord if he wanted me to give her a gospel of John he’d have to clear the decks. We got through the tunnel and at the first stop in the city, everyone in my way got up and got off, leaving an empty seat right by her. I  photo(44)chuckled. I got up, sat in the empty seat, pulled out my gospel, leaned over and in Spanish said good morning, I have a gift for you. She looked at me, saw the booklet, took it, and smiled. I explained the booklet, especially the first three pages. I told her to read them and make that prayer of receiving Christ as her Savior. I asked her if the book she was reading was helping her. She said yes, that she had bought it at her church’s bookstore. I said the secret of getting rid of depression is knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior. She said she thought so, too. Then she got quiet. A few seconds went by. Then she leaned in and said, “My son was murdered three years ago. I have been depressed ever since.” I was stunned. I told her how sorry I was, and that God wanted to carry her burden, that she didn’t have to anymore. She thanked me. At that point I got up to get off at my stop. I’ve been praying for her ever since.

This is an example of what I am praying to do every day. We see and meet many people with wounds so deep that only God can heal them. So I ask God to make me alert to the needs of others, to give me the faith to engage them even if it’s risky, and to use me as his ambassador of hope and encouragement to them.

What about you? Would you join me this year? I hope to write my adventures here when I have them.

We Really See You

My husband and I celebrated a milestone anniversary this past week. Our children had a lot to say about it.

“Thank you for being imperfect parents. You have shown us  God sticks around as He promised,” our daughter said.

At first I didn’t know how to respond, but then I laughed out loud.

That was the best compliment she could have given us.

“Your marriage is an amazing testimony of God’s faithfulness, love and perseverance in bringing you together and keeping you together all these years for His glory and your continued sanctification,” our son wrote in a text message.

When did he become the theologian? Oh wait. We pounded it into his head while he was growing up.

We told them the credit was all God’s. That we had done our share of sinning and fighting and getting angry, but God had always been there to dust us off, forgive us, and keep us going.

It humbled us to hear how God had shown his grace and mercy to us and to our children who have been watching all these years.                             Commandments

Perfect we’re not. Having it together – no way. Failing frequently, you bet. That’s really all we’re capable of doing. That’s why we cling to the gospel, knowing our righteousness is a borrowed righteousness from Another.

Thanks be to God!