For some individuals reality is about their apartment, house, cell or the quiet corner off a busy street. They relate their personal reality to the place where they are currently residing. Others see reality as a function of status or wealth, with those at the lowest end of the rung on the ladder of economics having a twisted reality or merely being unfortunates who cannot make the long climb to the top. The notion that I am in a better place, or have more status, is evidence of our strange ability to routinely delude ourselves based upon the law of appearances or materialism. I am in no way more of a person because of the things I own or the place I live. If that thought shades my perceptions than I am truly on a fool’s errand. In God’s providence we ALL share the same value and potential for eternal life with Him.
We are all residing on borrowed time and will end our human existence when we draw our last breath. Strangely many people miss the fact that the ultimate reality in life is the ongoing battle which rages between good and evil. It is the only manifest ongoing reality that continues to shape our lives with each new decision that we make. The amazing thing about this largely unseen battle is that it expresses its influence in every aspect of our lives, but is crafted as a super-ordinate sphere of inspiration in the midst of our very thought lives. Once choices are exercised by individuals we act as though those are the only choices with which we can shape our destiny. Locked in like a guided missile we often continue to pursue the very things that bring us pain and harm to others. We are blinded to the notion that there is an alternative to self-destruction.
That choice seems to diminish in the distance as we roll down the highway of self-satisfaction. But the truth is that throughout our lives we glimpse tiny visions of another way. Many dismiss these small windows of hope believing themselves to be too far gone, beyond any likelihood or opportunity of salvation. Others focus their worldly hatreds upon the person of God since they believe that it is Him who has failed them. Recently I have been working with someone who is severely wounded in this way. He is unable to even approach a rational discussion about the possibilities of as a caring Creator. I see his horrible pain yet I am powerless to dress his wounds or care for his soul since he has laid the full extent of his lifelong sufferings at God’s doorstep. The most appalling thing about this situation is the fact that Satan has him blinded to the truth. He is unable to distinguish the wicked voices of the past that urged him to vent his fury upon others violently, completely missing the soft sweet voice of His Savior calling him into relationship.
Many think that they have to change their lives completely before God would hear their cries. Others give up at the overwhelming task of trying to make things right. All of these beliefs are simple ploys of the devil who does not want you or I to know of the sweetness of God’s love for us or the promise of redemption from all of our past sins. I do not have to make myself ready for an encounter with the God of the universe. I merely need to acknowledge Him and ask for His forgiveness. My entire sin debt has already been paid in full. There is actually noting more that I can do to make things right, than to ask for His forgiveness. Like an earthly father who gives good things to his children, Our Father desperately wants to bless us in all we do. But like my friend, if we keep pushing His hand away from our lives, He MUST honor our choices and allow us to go along our chosen pathways. That is the paradox of free will. When God loves each of us so much that He would allow us to reject Him and choose eternal condemnation.
We all know individuals from our pasts that treated us in some special ways no matter what kind of reputations that we had developed. They choose to see the best in us, not the worst and when in their presence they treated us with compassion and as equally human in all respect. They managed to see past the wicked deeds and manifest evil which ruled our lives and they saw us with a vision of what we could become. They were rare and special people in our lives, given to us to catch hold of another way of living. That is exactly what Jesus Christ did for each of us on the cross at Calvary. He saw the best in us and through His sacrifice swept our futures clear of the consequences of our sins. All that remains is for us to accept His gift of eternal life and the comfort of a life restored in Him. You see it is not all about the bye and bye, the promises of Jesus Christ apply to the lives we are living right now. While it has been a long time since I have worn prison garb, I remember those days well. I was unable to see past my own ideas of what happiness would be and as a result God was forced to allow me to pursue those things that I thought would bring me joy.
Inevitably I found that the very things that I had been seeking for so long were causing me incredible pain and depriving me of my life. I was the direct cause of my own pain, but I blamed God and others for the state of my life. So I can understand my friend very well indeed. But it is like we are talking two separate languages. He does not understand the basis for my concern for his spiritual life. He can only see my actions as abrasive and insensitive. I recently had a friend commit suicide because of his extreme isolation from others. He saw no alternative but to shoot himself to stop his pain. I grieved his death, but decided at that point that I would not be slack in telling others about the truth. So my friend who has no knowledge of this event can only reflect upon my words. I do not want him to be focused on anything else, but the truth of God’s Word. What I have to say is immaterial and unimportant. What God has to say to each of us in the ultimate reality. I am nothing, He is all.
I believe that most people hunger for imparted righteousness. They want to stand clean before God, but have no idea how to get to that point in their lives. They spend an incredible amount of time and energy attempting to ascend to God in their daily struggles to be worthy of His love. The inherent problem with this type of thinking lies in the simple fact that there is NOTHING we can do to elevate ourselves. We are all sinners and therefore are unworthy of anything but eternal condemnation. But God is not a human being, we are created in His image and likeness. Nevertheless His ways are far higher that our ways. In His incredible love for each of us, He has made a way for us to reach out to Him. That way is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Talk about having an inside track on life, this is the real thing. And all we need do to access this salvation link is to call upon Jesus Christ and ask for forgiveness for our sins. It is really just that simple. In that moment of quiet confession, our lives are covered by His righteousness and our sin debt is paid in full. Christians should not boast of anything, but the love of Jesus Christ in their lives. Given that His mercy and compassion has enveloped our lives, we should be the first to forgive others and share this great love with others freely. My sins are scarlet and festering, Christ is the healing oil that restores my spirit and fills my life with purpose and joy.
Before I came into this relationship, I remember that when I heard these kinds of statements uttered by others, I would think that these claims were just too fantastic to be true. Like the taste of vanilla ice cream, if you have never tasted it then you have no idea what ice cream is or what vanilla might taste like; it is no different with understanding the grace of God. If you have not tasted of God’s goodness and mercy, then you have NO reference point by which to gage His promises as they apply to your life. You can only go by what others have had to say about God and that includes former “religious” experiences. Religion can never get you to where you want to go. God is spirit, the only way that we can ever relate to a holy God is in spirit and in truth.
I must come to Him as I am; a sinner….a hopeless and helpless sinner. In spite of all my good intentions, over and over again I find myself at odds with what God has spoken into my life. That is everyone’s reality. We all are engaged in the daily battle between good and evil. Only those who are totally blinded by Satan’s ploys and lies, refuse to see the repetitive cycle of events which dominate our lives. In the act of surrender I reach out to God and place the struggle into His hands, asking Him to guide me along my future pathway. It is that simple. God is love, and when we want to have a relationship He will make that possible by the grace He pours out onto all lives. You see all human life is precious to God, it is Satan who hates us and seeks to destroy us by getting us caught up in his trap of deception and deceit. Satan’s hatred of us is based upon a simple concept. We are all made in God’s image and likeness. When Satan looks upon any of us, he is revolted by the indelible mark of our Creator’s love, present in all human life, past, present and future. If Satan can get us to renounce our Father’s love, then he can claim our eternal souls by default. In other words he can trick us out of our eternal inheritance as a child of God. Don’t take my word for it, pray about these statements and search the scriptures of the Holy Bible. You will find the truth if you truly seek it. Truth is eternal. It never varies. It is a light to your path throughout life.
There will always be people in your life that kick you when you are down. And when you manage to stand up tall, they want to pull you down again. But the challenge of living is to give them room to vent their anger and still be a loving witness of God’s work in your life. I recently had a similar experience with family members that was a painful reminder of my own limitations in healing the wounds of others. Sometimes the only recourse that we have available to us is to place those individuals in God’s care. Given the fact that we each have free will, we are powerless to impact the thought life of another human being. I recently saw a news piece in which the mother of a man killed by another individual waited until the noose was placed around the killer’s neck and he was standing on the edge of eternity. Moving around in front of the prisoner, she slapped him across the face and then publicly forgave him for his actions. They happened in Iran, in a nation that has been billed as hostile to Western values. I was inspired by her actions since no one would have condemned her for allowing his execution to go forward. Yet in the midst of her turmoil and pain, she was able to remember the value of a human life and meet out justice with an overwhelming sense of compassion. She must be a remarkable person and one that I would have enjoyed getting to know. The reality of her pain did not her ability to impart mercy to one who did not deserve this consideration. What a tribute to her lost son, to have a mother with such integrity. In the U.S. we lose sight of an individual’s worth with the pronouncement of the death sentence. God never loses sight of our worth to Him. He is not a person like us, but rather Our Heavenly Father who pours Himself out upon us in loving forgiveness and everlasting mercy. This is an important reminder to me as I start to heal from recent events which occurred in my own life. It is a matter of choice to forgive those who have injured us. To let go of the pain and anger of hatred and exclusion and to make a point to live out each day with a fresh vision of God’s love for us. It takes work to keep this reminder before our eyes, it does not take any effort to hate someone blindly because they have hurt us deeply. When I hate I lose this day and every day that I am consumed with these feelings.
In the battle between good and evil, there are few lulls in the struggle. An internal battle rages in our thoughts which expresses the state of our hearts. I cannot be phony in my attitudes toward others, when I am in deep pain I can only ask God to soothe my discomfort and to strengthen me for the days ahead. I am often powerless in my ability to help myself, but I know that there is One who will always respond to my cry for help. He is faithful and loving. So one day at a time I choose the road that I will follow. My reality changes as I make those daily decisions. I find the strength and focus to stay committed even when I have stepped off of the pathway to life. I am never on my own, there is always a Presence in my life to help me through those moments when I cannot take the next step by myself. Hope does not stem from a governors commutation of sentence or from a pardon. It comes solely from the knowledge that there is One who totally understands the challenges and sins of your life and this One will never abandon you. People will always fail us, but God never fails us at our point of need. He has a different viewpoint concerning our lives and seeks to promote our wellbeing if we are willing to trust our lives to His care. If you come from a background of having no trust in anyone else, then it is a very difficult thing to reach out a trust an unseen God with the only thing that is yours…..your own life. I do not expect you to grasp this challenge on my word alone. Ash Him yourself to revel Himself in your life. He knows everything about you and will respond to an open and honest prayer request for His help. He also knows about your doubts and fears and is in the best possible situation to respond in a way that only He could give to you as an answer to your prayer. In your life you have tried many things that did not work out so well in the end. In this simple suggestion you have nothing to lose in asking for His help and everything to gain.
I would encourage you to think clearly about the message of this letter. There is an ongoing battle between good and evil, it is all around us. Take a long look at the world and ask yourself if you can, to explain how these things happen if there is no spiritual warfare at work in our lives. Share with me any other explanation which you might embrace, because it seems to be incredibly evident that we are caught up in this battle throughout our lives. Our solitary role is to make a decision which side of the battle we are going to join. If you have previously made the wrong decision, you can change that choice even now. That is what God’s love is all about, forgiveness and mercy. He is not our enemy, rather our Creator who understands every aspects of our lives. That is why He sent His son, Jesus Christ to pay for the complete sin debt that we each owe. Would you choose to die in your own sin, rather than accept a heavenly pardon? It may seem bizarre, but some are so deluded by the lies of Satan that they go to their deaths believing that they cannot be forgiven. Please remember that in the Scriptures, Satan is known as the Father of Lies. Think about people who have lied to you, were they seeking your best interests?
If you take the time to study Scripture you will find that it contains a story about the struggle between good and evil. It is not my story, it is God’s love letter to us to warn us and help us as we go through our days. As you take the time to read and understand this love letter, pieces which have been missing throughout your life will start to fall into place. You will come to an understanding about things that you never previously understood. As that happens you will be filled with the knowledge that you are the one that this letter was written about and that God’s love is for you and me. It is not something unreachable, it was given as a divine gift to all those who reach out and accept it. You see a gift is nothing until it has been accepted by the one to whom it has been given. If the governor offered you the gift of a pardon on the date set for your execution, would you refuse to accept it? Most would accept it joyfully and look forward to the days that remained in their lives. That gift would bring a whole new vision of life. Closed doors opening to you because of an unexpected gift. That is the same way that the salvation which was earned by Jesus Christ works in our lives. It is a precious gift just waiting to be accepted by us. None of us can earn this privilege on our own. We are all sinners standing before a holy God. Because of His great love for us, He has made a way for us to live in peace with Him because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for each of us. It does not matter what YOU have done in the past. All that matters now is what you do with the truth that you have been given. Explore the gift, ask for guidance, share it with others and watch what God starts to do with a life that has been written off by the rest of society. I am older now and I have seen the hand of God work in the strangest of ways in lives of believers. I cannot stand by myself, I am merely a human being riddled with faults and failures, but my Creator is able to take my willingness to be changed and shape it into something that is valuable and precious to Him.
He has promised to do this for all of us. There are no exceptions to this rule of life. The only condition attached to this promise is the fact that we must accept the gift and act upon its promises. Nothing else is required. There is nothing else you can do in your own power. That is what makes this promise of redemption so powerful, because on our own initiative we cannot do anything to change our situation. But God comes along side and offers us a free gift out of His great love for us. If I look around at others I see nothing to recommend by belief in a loving God, because all of the others that I see are struggling with their own issues in this battle of good versus evil. We are all like blind men who cannot offer others any real sense of direction. We are the blind leading the blind. But there is One who has the power to heal that lifelong blindness if we are just willing to ask Him to heal us. As our Father He wants to bless us, it is only Satan who wants to use us into deceiving others and spending eternity in hell with him. Like crabs in a barrel, as one starts to climb out on top of the others, the crabs below will grab the one on top and pull it back down into the barrel. You have seen this happen in life with people that you know personally. Do not let this happen to you, take the hand that has been offered to you from above. It is a hand that you can trust.
This period of time has contained high points and low points in my life. But I know that I am His and will move through this rough time into a green valley where my peace is restored. I know this because it is the story of my life since coming into relationship with Jesus Christ. I have had to learn how to be silent and know that He is God. When I am willing to calm the storm that rages in my heart, He always manifests His presence in the events of my life. Already today I have seen how my recent family experiences have helped me to understand the plight of others who are wrestling with pain and shame in their own lives. That knowledge helps me to understand that I am not here by accident, but rather to reach out to others in love and compassion. That knowledge gives me great strength and direction. I pray that you will find the same knowledge within yourself
A PRAYER FOR WISDOM: Help me Lord to know Your truth for my life. Help me to act upon Your great love for me and help me to bless others in Your name. I trust in You.