Monday, April 20, 2015

Today, and the Lovingkindness that Brought Us Here



If God laid out your future in writing, put it in an envelope, and placed it on your doorstep, would you open it?

I heard a visiting preacher ask this once when I was in college. I remember answering his question in my heart with a resounding, “Yes!”  College meant upcoming crossroads in my life, and the future looked bright and hopeful. I wanted to know what it looked like. I wanted a glimpse into the crystal ball I was sure would be joy to peer into.

This many years down the road, I’m glad I didn’t have an envelope back then or a glimpse into today.

Not because I’m unhappy with the way the Lord has led me. I could write a college-sized essay on the reasons I’m thankful the Lord has led me to where I am today.

But today came only after a series of yesterdays that prepared me for what my life looks like now.

Many of those yesterdays were “todays” I would have never chosen. Some were spent doubting. Many were full of tears. Others have been joy-filled and Spirit-filled. Still others have left me grateful for grace.

But every one of those day were molding days. Squeezing me into the will of God for my life and swallowing up my own plans and hopes that were so much less than the beautiful things God does in His time.




God doesn’t reveal an isolated moment in the future to us, because we couldn’t handle it yet.

I would have never chosen “today” back then in that college chapel seat.

I would have been unhappy to read what was written in that envelope. I would have shrunk back from what I saw in that crystal ball.

But I also would have missed all the days in between that make me so grateful for today.

I wouldn’t have seen the tears or laughter or growth or hard choices or felt the grace that has surrounded me day after day, carrying me into today’s will of God for my life.

“Exhort one another daily, while it is called, ‘Today,’”  Scripture tells us (Heb. 3:13).

Because today is God’s will for our lives, and the only day we have to live right now.

See today as a string of moments planned by a God who led you here by His lovingkindness.

And if you do find an envelope on your doorstep with the words “Your Future Enclosed,” it’s very likely the only words you’ll find inside are the words, “Kept by the power of God” (1 Pet. 1:5).


“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
my lips shall praise You.” (Psalm 63:3)



Sunday, April 5, 2015

Useless Hands and Words that Saved



“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The words are foreign to my ears.

Who is this man who prays a prayer so selfless?

A criminal, as I am?

He must be who they say He is. Though they mock.

They say He saved others.

They told Him to save Himself.

They say He’s a King.

I’ve known criminals, as I am.

But this man said, “Father, Forgive.”

No criminal would die with a prayer on His lips like this one.

No one would die like this.

But a King.

I’ve lived a wicked, self-filled life.

I’m not worthy to be this close to such a man.

Unworthy to die so close to a man who saves.

A man so kingly.

He saved others?

Can He? Will He save me?

Can a dying man save?

“Lord, remember me in your Kingdom.”

I breathe out the words in agony. The last words that will ever cross my lips.

I plead with a man whose hands are nailed to a cross.

Nailed hard and stopped.

But a man so kingly, a man who saved others, a man who would breathe a prayer of forgiveness, though wracked with pain.  He can save.

His words alone can save.

My hands are also nailed.

But these hands have been wicked. These hands have robbed, cheated, expressed over and over again rebellion against the One who made me.

Now they are stopped.

Nailed hard and useless.

They can’t go back and undo.

They can’t make up for a life of sin.

They can do nothing to save.

Please “Remember.”

This is all my believing heart and confessing lips can plead.

My last words speak what my hands can’t do.

They speak dependence upon the only One mighty to save.




In the same agony as I, He promises me a place.

“Truly I say to you, Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

His hands are stopped.

But His words speak a promise.

You will be with Me.

In a place better than this one.

Today.

The sun begins to set, my hands ache, but my heart rejoices.

My hands are stopped from sin and useless to save.

But a dying man mighty to save spoke a promise.

He saved others.

He didn’t save Himself.

Instead, He saved me.



“Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)




 




Monday, March 30, 2015

When Eyes Were Opened and Shame Was Covered



When God created His beautiful world, the man and his wife lived in perfect harmony--pure from guilt and free from shame.

When sin entered the world, a devastating thing occurred.


The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew . . .” (Genesis 3:7)


They knew shame.

When God sent His Son, brokenness described the world He entered. He met broken people, He healed outcasts, He changed lives.

He died.

And the broken world froze in expectation.




A man and his wife walked the road to Emmaus. A stranger joined them and told them world’s history and spoke of the Messiah.

When He left their home hours later, a truth was unveiled to their wondering hearts.


“Their eyes were opened, and they knew . . .” (Luke 24:31)


They knew He was the risen Christ.

Christ rose from the dead.

And every person “risen with Christ” (Col. 3:1) can walk the roads of a broken world open-eyed to conquered shame.

Mankind can live restored and new.

Covered.



Monday, March 23, 2015

They Didn't Turn Anywhere Else



He had an urgent need.
Bur his friend was sleeping.
He knocked anyway.

His friend said, “Go away!”
But he had nowhere else to turn.
So he kept knocking.

And he received. (Luke 11:5-8)




She ached for her daughter’s healing.
But Jesus was silent.
She asked anyway.

Jesus gave no encouragement.
But she had nowhere else to turn.
So she kept asking.

And she received. (Mark 7:24-30)

I wonder.

Does God’s silence mean He’s waiting?

Is He waiting to see if we’ll turn somewhere else?

None of us has anywhere else to turn.

Unbelief tells us to try anyway. To stop knocking, and search elsewhere for the answer that isn’t coming.

Faith shouts at us to knock.

And keep knocking.

Keep knocking at the door that opens to persistent knocking.

When the answer comes, it will be said of us, “They didn’t turn anywhere else.”



“He spoke a parable to them,
that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)