Thursday, November 19, 2015

Syrian Refugees: Where Fear and Faith Collide

     On November 13, 2015 Muslim terrorists stormed into the world of Parisians taking lives, hostages, injuring the innocent, and striking fear into the heart of millions around the world. They absolutely did what they planned to do. Equally as important to the dead bodies is the fear in our hearts. It's what they do. They are terrorists after all. They inflict terror.

In the wake of this tragedy, a lot of people are ready to shut and lock the iron doors to our ivory palace (America) and refuse entry to the masses. That's fear. Yes, it's possible (even plausible) that some of those fleeing will end up as terrorists in our own back yard. There is wisdom in the multitude of counsel. We should look at the situation with wide-open eyes that seek to protect the lives of innocent Americans. 

I totally agree with that.

Yet, I'm not really worried about how the American government will deal with the problem. I'm not responsible for the American government.

I am responsible for me. 

I am responsible for how I respond to the broken and even for how I respond to those who would seek to destroy my life. Prayer is important and we should each of us, every one, seek the face of God as we never have before. But, we'd better, as believers, put some feet to those prayers. We'd better actually go out there and do that love your neighbor thing. We'd better stop responding as Americans and start responding as children of the King. Remember when God told the Israelites to treat the foreigner just as a native born Israelite? Remember when Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these you do it unto me? Can you really imagine looking into the eyes of Jesus and telling him that the risk was just too great?

For years Mozambique descended into a war that killed thousands upon thousands and displaced millions. And though today we enjoy a sort of pseudo-peace, I think war is pretty much in the back of our minds most of the time. You see, the first generation of people to know a free Mozambique are only 23 years old. My generation of Mozambicans were all teenagers when peace came to Moz for the first time. I have had the privilege to sit and listen to their stories and the stories of the older generations. I've listened as a grown man grappled with forgiving the soldier who drove a knife through his father's heart in front of his ten-year-old eyes. I've listened as a friend told me that he watched his mother being gang raped. I've heard stories of people kidnapped, maimed and killed. I've heard countless stories of how soldiers would take infants and bash their skulls against a tree. I've listened to stories of how people would dig their own graves, climb in, and then wait for the bullet that would end their lives. I've heard how people ate grass, banana peels, dirt and drank dirty water to just stay alive one more day. People walked miles and miles to get to refugee camps in neighboring countries. People still talk about "during the war" as if it was last year and not almost 25 years ago because the scars of war still remain on their hearts. It doesn't go away.

That's what people are fleeing. 

Loving people like that - the ones with scars, and terror, and distrust built into the very fiber of their being isn't easy. Wading into the messiness and brokenness of people's lives is hard work. It's not even rewarding most of the time. For every tiny little victory you achieve, there are ten giant obstacles to be faced. There's always that heartbreak and realization that they don't love me or even appreciate me - just what they're able to get from me. Loving wounded people creates its own wounds in your heart. It's an often thankless task.

Yet, the job of being Jesus' hands and feet isn't about me. It isn't about how I feel when I do it. It's not even about "them." It's about HIM. It's about his glory and his glorious grace for a world so desperately in need of His redemption. What in the world has made us think that Jesus' most pressing concern is our safety and security? Think of the generations that have come before us who were beaten, and jailed, and burned, and speared, and shot, and maimed and killed. Don't you think they were afraid too? Yet, when the moment counted, they did not shrink back in fear. They chose danger because though the enemy can kill the body, he cannot capture a soul that Christ has set free.

What if these aren't the end times? What if this is our generation's moment to let Jesus shine? What if one day our great-great-grandchildren and all of history is judging us now by how we loved? What if this moment is the moment that leads to one last great revival before Jesus comes back to claim his own? What if this is our chance to let faith be more important that fear?

This issue for me is not principally about the refugees or how the American government deals with those refugees. I hope we can help people who are giving up their whole lives to gain life. But, it's not even about that. We, especially as American Christians, have sat in our comfort for too long. We need to get dirty because our God is dirty. I don't mean that to be sacrilegious. But, our magnificent, holy God wallows in the mud and mirk of our lives. The nasty and the desperate have not turned him away. The time has come for us to wade into the mire of the depravity and brokenness of the dying. 

You will get dirty. You will be more broken yourself. You might even die.

Revelation 12 speaks of those men and women who "did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." It is time for us to answer the call. Yes, answer the call about the refugees. But, more than that, to answer His call to dying world. It is a call to give up our comfort and our way of life for something that is so much greater than our blip of a second on planet earth. To many to name have gone before us and paid the price. When the baton is now passed to us will we turn our eyes and close our ears?

I'm not saying we should be foolish. The Bible has plenty to say about wisdom and counsel. But, I am saying to live like those who cannot die. I am saying to live unselfishly and love lavishly. I am saying be generous and kind. I am saying pick up your cross. Maybe that is foolish - to the world anyhow. Jesus was radical and if you don't know that, you may not know Jesus.

This is not an American problem.

But it is a Christian command.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

#PrayForParis and so much more......

      This morning after waking up, I read my Bible and then I helped a friend move her stuff. I went food shopping and had tea with a friend. This afternoon, I made bread. Tonight some friends are coming over to watch a movie. A very normal, easy, enjoyable Saturday.
      Yet, half way around the world the city of Paris is waking up to horror. There is nothing normal, or easy, or enjoyable about this day. Indeed it wasn't a bad dream. Terror did strike. Loved ones did die. Injuries have made life different. What once was is no more. How do we cope with that? How do you go out for dinner and never come home?
     My heart hurts for our broken world. Our world so in need of a God who saves. I sit in total disbelief at a world who grasps for the answer to their hearts cry in a million devastating ways. There is so much brokenness is our world. There is so much evil. In our desire to be open and tolerant, we have accepted everything. And that everything is killing us. It's okay to call evil, evil. Jesus did that. It's okay to hate evil.
       In the last few days, I've been thinking a lot about Genesis 6 where the Bible says, "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled."
     I wonder if he looks at us and feels that same sorrow. He won't flood the earth again. He promised us that. This time, he'll just come back as that rider on a white horse whose name is Faithful and True.
     I've seen several posts that say, "Even so come, Lord Jesus!" And I have to tell you that whenever I see this statement, my heart feels divided. Yes, it's a biblical statement and yes, I want to see my Savior face to face. I long to embrace him. I long to kneel before him. I long to see those eyes. Yet, "Even so come, Lord Jesus!" signifies the end of time. The opportunity to choose Christ will have ended and all people will live out their eternity with or without Christ. And that to me is tragic. There are so many more people who will live out a Christ-less eternity. There is so much work that needs to be done. So much love that needs to be spread.
     "The lost" is sort of a vague term. I mean, most of my American life, most of the people I knew were "Christians." They went to church or at least had heard the gospel. But, I didn't run in circles where I had deep relationships with the lost. "The lost" were always people 'out there' who needed Jesus. But, now, they have faces, and names, and stories. For them, choosing Christ means not choosing your family. The cost to be a Christian is significant and they are afraid to do it. And the moment that he splits the eastern sky, their chance to choose is no more. I often find my heart singing these lines of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic":

In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me
As he died to make men holy, Let us live to make men free
while God is marching on.
We can almost hear the trumpet sound, the Lord’s is near.
There are still so many people, his message the must hear
Father give us one more moment, one more day, one more year
with God we’re marching on.

    When terrorism like Paris occurs, it breaks my heart. I hurt for those who are hurting. I'm angry at a world that turns a blind eye to truth in the name of tolerance. I worry that this will happen in my own backyard and next time it will be people that I knew who are counted among the injured and dead. I think, indeed this attack will usher in that Rider on a white horse, and I will see all that I didn't do. I'll realize in that moment how much more I could have given.
      So, I encourage you, whether your mission field is your own backyard or a backyard thousands of miles away, give more. Try harder. Love deeper.  Jesus is coming. I believe his return is near. And "the lost" have names, and faces and stories. If I grieve this much over their eternal fate, surely their Father grieves even more. We don't have the luxury of posting #prayingforparis on our FaceBook status and going on about our lives. We cannot ignore the responsibility we bear any longer.
     The famous missionary, C.T. Studd, who served and loved people in China, India, and parts of Africa once wrote a poem, that in part said, "Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." This is a call. It is a call to war. Satan has his army ready and willing to do battle. Will you pick up your sword? Will you engage the enemy? Will you stand up and fight when everyone else goes home? Will you risk what's important to carry the Name? No, it's not easy. I think it will get more and more difficult as our days on earth linger. It will cost us something precious. Maybe it will cost life itself. But, that's okay, too. Because Matthew 10:28 reminds us they can kill the body, but not the soul.
Our Captain has sounded the battle cry. How will we respond?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Amazing Grace Isn't Selective

Grace is anything but comfortable. We all want it, but very few of us are willing to give it in the same manner that we desire it. The unfortunate thing about grace is that it is given freely to everyone (read: all of us) who need it, without reserve. Our human minds that ascribe levels to everything think that some are more or less deserving of grace depending on what they have - or haven't - done. But, that's limited, human grace. I don't serve a human god and I certainly don't serve a limited god, so that's just not how it works.

A few weeks ago, news broke that the eldest Duggar child had inappropriately touched some of his sisters.  Facebook was instantly flooded with people who lambasted the Duggar parents for not taking their son immediately to the police. Josh was called a child molester and pedophile, and much worse. Anyone who dared talk of grace was ridiculed. Whether or not the Duggar parents handled the more than decade old situation correctly, there was certainly no room for grace. Only punishment.

I hate to tell ya'll, but public scorn and media attention victimized those girls far more than their brother ever did. Anything like that is shameful, embarrassing. Can you imagine the whole world knowing every single detail of what happened and that abuse being written about, talked about, and played out on national television? Those girls have been harmed more in the last few weeks than anything that their brother did.

Now enter Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. Some people who called for grace for Josh Duggar are spewing vile things on social media and withholding that same grace for Jenner. Others who called for Josh's head on a silver platter, say the only appropriate response to Jenner is love and grace.

My friends, this just cannot be.

You can tell me all day long that Duggar's sin has victims and Jenner doesn't have victims. You can tell me that Duggar's actions were actually a sin while Jenner is just confused. Or maybe you'll tell me that we don't really know what our reaction should be because the Bible doesn't say a thing - not one thing - about transgendered people. Well, it doesn't have a whole lot to say about child molesters, either (that's not support for pedophiles or a suggestion that incarceration isn't appropriate.)

Here's what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. Bruce Jenner is deeply confused. The words that come to mind are sad, tragic, wounded. I feel so deeply for this man who is so uncomfortable in his own skin, that he had to create new skin to try and find comfort in. Not only did he go to great lengths to "change" his skin, he also had to splash it all over the front pages of every magazine, news paper, and internet story from here to kingdom come.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God did not make a mistake with Bruce Jenner. He did not put a female soul in a male body. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Jenner's struggle is not real. I believe that it is. But gender identity issues, I believe, are the result of a fallen, broken, sinful, hyper-sexualized society - just like so many other issues. Just because you feel it doesn't mean you give into it. That's truth whether we're talking about eating that second piece of cake or changing your gender.

I have so much compassion for Jenner. I can't imagine being that uncomfortable with yourself. I have compassion for his family. I mean for his children, his grandchildren.....he suddenly becomes what - Mom and Grandma? Even if they've also bought the lie that one can choose his/her gender, that change comes with a price.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jenner needs compassion and grace. Anyone spewing hatred towards him doesn't have a real concept of how much grace they have received.

Yes, Duggar broke the law. Jenner has broken no law. I get that. Anyone that is breaking the law deserves punishment. Victims deserve protection. I'm not denying any of that. What I am saying is that both Duggar and Jenner are products of a society that has made sexuality a god. Both are products of a society that says, "If it feels good, do it."

Punishment for crimes has to exist in a society. Without it, all of society would be in total chaos. BUT, even for that criminal who should be/was disciplined, grace, in all its scandalous glory, exists. When I was a child in AWANA I learned this definition of grace, "undeserved, unearned favor and kindness."

Favor, ya'll. Favor.

Favor and kindness for Josh Duggar. Favor and kindness for Bruce Jenner.

Gosh, yes. Favor and kindness.

Bruce Jenner will never be a woman. His DNA will forever be male. Surgeons can cut and re-build and make and Jenner will still be a "man-made woman." God didn't create Caitlyn Jenner and when he looks at Jenner's heart, he doesn't see Caitlyn. He sees a child he made in so much turmoil, confusion, and pain.

So, yes, ya'll. Pour out some love and grace for Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. Love him. Pray for him. Beg God for the healing of his soul. The enemy has told him a great lie and he is so in need of understanding and grace. If we as Christians can't give him that, we don't really understand the God that we claim to serve.

And while you're at it. Go ahead and share some of that grace with Josh Duggar. Does he deserve it? Of course not. Do his crimes deserve punishment? Absolutely, yes. But, does he get grace? Yep. Just like you and me.

A lot more could be said about both Duggar and Jenner. We could talk a lot about their choices and the harm they have caused themselves and the hurt they have inflicted on others (even if you don't think it's to the same degree) We can talk about the church and the appropriate response to crime, abuse, and sexual and social perversion.We can talk about the implications that their choices have on our increasingly godless society and those are all discussions that we can and should have.

But, there's just no room for tearing down wounded people. Unless you are personal friends of these families, your opinion isn't all that important. What is important is how you walk out your faith - what you say and what you do. You don't get to choose who deserves grace or love - or at least you shouldn't. In Matthew 6, it says, "give and it will be given to you. pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” That's talking about judgment and forgiveness. You'll find no forgiveness present in the absence of grace. Since I want grace "pressed down, shaken together, and running over" I guess I will apply that same rule to others.

That's not to say there isn't room for calling out sin. There absolutely is. Sin is sin and far too much damage has been done to our society by Christians keeping quiet about sin.  Jesus called out sin. We should call out sin and stand up - even if we're standing alone - for truth. But Jesus' purpose for calling out sin was always so that the sinner might be led to repentance. If your calling out sin isn't leading anybody to repentance, you're just a clanging symbol right out of I Corinthians 13. In the grand eternal scheme of things, once repentance has occurred, what Jesus sought, shed his blood and died for has occurred. The debt has been paid.

Maybe that's not comfortable for us. But, it just is. I once heard a pastor put it like this:
Think about a bull's eye. The center of the bull's eye is heaven. Anything outside the center mark is hell. Now think of the best person you have ever known. Someone shouted out Mother Teresa. So, the pastor asked, On a scale of 1 to 10 - ten being perfect where do you think Mother Teresa is? Ten is perfect. Ten is God. So she can't be 10, but where does she fall? Someone said "nine." Well, ten is the mark. Ten is the bull's eye. Ten is perfection, so she missed it. That puts her in hell. Then the pastor asked us to think of the worst person society has ever known. Someone else said "Hitler." The congregation decided that he was a one. He missed the mark by a lot more than mother Teresa. BUT, they both missed the mark. It took Jesus death on the cross to save them both. The punishment that Jesus accepted on behalf of Mother Teresa was exactly the same as the punishment he accepted for Adolf Hitler. So, without the grace of God that saves and transforms they both end up in hell. They both miss the mark. You either hit it or you don't, there is no almost. That's why we all need the saving grace of Jesus.

Grace isn't fair. Grace isn't selective. But, grace is amazing.

So, let it amaze you today!

Friday, May 22, 2015

That Little Big Thing Called Sin.....

Okay.....well I'm going to wade into the waters of the 'Duggar Scandal.' I don't watch the Duggars' show, and never have - except for those few occasions that I watched an episode or two with my sister while I was on home assignment.

However, I can't escape the unadulterated venom and hate being spewed forth on Facebook by Christians and non-Christians. The whole situation makes me mad, and really sad, too. I'm sad because what happened to those girls and what Josh did, doesn't just go away. It creates scars. The scars may be long healed, but they're there as a forever reminder of what happened. That's a scar that no child should carry into adulthood. And, now, all these years later their pain, their embarrassment, their shame is being put on very public display. How utterly awful. Maybe even more painful that what actually happened.

People are screaming from the roof tops that he is a child molester. What he did was wrong, and he knew it was wrong. What he did was disgusting and repulsive. But, let's remember that he was a child himself. I do not know anyone, who, if this happened in their family would haul their fourteen-year-old off to let the law deal with him. To have him registered as a sex-offender FOR LIFE. To ruin his chances for college, a good job, a loving family. Yes, anyone would be heartbroken for their daughters, but you'd be equally heartbroken for your son. Maybe even more so for your son. You'd be wondering how in the world this child that you love could do that - especially to another child that you love. You'd be wondering where you went wrong, how you didn't see this coming. Every instinct within you would want to protect your son just as much as those instincts would tell you to rescue your daughter.

Maybe they didn't seek the best help for their son. Maybe they should have sent him to a program, or talked to a different police officer, or.....maybe they should have done a hundred different things. But, they were trying to do the best they could do just like any blindsided parent would.

Josh's sin doesn't make him or anyone in his family incapable of having an opinion on sin. Lying is a sin. But, I've lied. I still believe it's a sin. Every time I catch one of my little kiddos in a lie, I call them on it. I tell them it's a sin and that we don't do it because it breaks God's heart.

Maybe I'm more capable of recognizing sin and it's damaging effects because I am a sinner.

They haven't pretended to be anything they are not. They are imperfect people trying to live before a holy and perfect God. They (and we) don't and never will attain that standard of perfection until we trade in our fallen world and our sinful souls for the ones waiting on the other side of the veil.

That's what sin does. It lures us, calling us for that momentary pleasure, that costs us so much more in the end. A man with a precious little family has lost his job and his family is losing their show. Sure, there are other jobs and life will go on for everybody without that show - even the Duggars. Those, in the grand scheme of things, are actually quite small. But Josh Duggar and his parents, family members who weren't even alive twelve years ago, his wife, his little children, and the sisters he harmed will have to deal with all those old feelings and new ones too as it is played out on a national stage. Is that really fair? Do you really want to pay for all your youthful indiscretions well into the adult life you've built for yourself?

Of course you don't.

And thank God, that's not the price that God requires of us. God sent His holy and perfect son to pay the price for the wickedness of our souls. He remembers our sin NO MORE. He buries it as far as the east is from the west.

I don't think it's right, to call for grace and turn our backs on justice. One doesn't really exist without the other. However, all these years later, after repentance, what is justice? The law can't do anything anymore. Is is justice to drag a man, his wife (who knew all along), and his young children through the mud? Is is justice to smear a family and accuse them of all sorts of things and call them all kinds of horrible names? Is it justice to have to explain to the world every disgusting detail of your sin? I'm not saying consequences don't exist or that laws shouldn't be followed. I'm just asking you what is justice in this situation and who exactly is qualified to apply those consequences. I sure don't want to, because I know I don't have a leg to stand on.

I hope and pray that those girls have found the healing that they need. I hope that they have allowed the precious love of Jesus to penetrate so deeply into their souls that there is no room left for the damage that their brother's sin caused. I also hope that Josh Duggar will allow that same love to wash his sins whiter than snow. Surely as Christians we can see that there is no room for guilt and shame. Jesus' blood washed all that away.

That's the thing about grace. It's scandalous.  It's undeserved. Completely unearned - washing away the darkest sin from the most vile sinner. We all want this kind of grace. We all are in desperate need of this scandalous grace.

Don't demand grace for yourself that you aren't willing to give to others. Don't be so sure about what you would do until you are in that very situation. Don't demand that a person pay for a sin God is no longer charging him with. Don't be a part of the crowd that's "shooting the wounded."

If anything, I hope this story calls each of us to a higher standard of living. I hope this teaches us the long-lasting, life-destroying, painful effects of sin. Satan demands a hidden cost, and when that payment comes due, it's is always much higher price to pay than we ever dreamed.

Jesus says that price has already been paid.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

So Long, Farewell

Our YWAM Nampula Team

Praying blessings over our friends!

Moving Truck (Mozambican Style!)

This morning, we said our final goodbyes to our dear friends and teammates and I watched them head off to their new adventure with a little lump in my throat. Some of these folks I've known since my first trip to Mozambique in 2006. Others I've known since my very earliest days in Mozambique. And, some, I've only had the opportunity to know since I came to Lichinga in 2013. However, they are all dear, sweet friends and I will miss the greatly.

I will miss their wisdom and friendship. I will miss sharing meals and doing life with them. I will miss their sweet children who have all been a part of my school over the last three years. I will miss the precious faces of my little friends, their laughter, their hugs, their persistent questions, "Tia, Jennifer, can we....?" 

In my flesh, I want to scream about the unfairness of it all. I mean, all of you know what it's like to say goodbye to someone whether it be forever or just because distance is creating a void. Things were just fine the way they were. Our team was healthy and happy and we valued their place on our team. In a missionary's life, life is often marked by goodbye on one side of the ocean or the other and it is a word you come to dread.

However, God moved in some pretty grand ways to take this team to Nampula - a place where there is no YWAM base and where there are people desperate for the truth of the Gospel. So, I'm excited for all the possibilities and plans that God has for them and the Makonde people.

There will certainly be a void for awhile as our team adjusts and evens out again. Some of these folks have been here for over 15 years. Lori and Victor met and married here. Within the walls of the DTS, some of these folks learned to love Jesus and each other. Leaving was a significant step as well. But, I have to be confident that this "see you later" is for the benefit of the kingdom and that little "hiccup" in our hearts is so worth the soul of another.

Every sacrifice that it is made for the cross of Christ is undoubtedly worth it. Whatever price we pay to know Jesus, to show His love, share His light, and spread His grace is so very small. He gave all and, surely so can I. The answer to the Savior  - whatever He may ask - is always, always, yes.

However, I do long for the day when there are no more goodbyes (whether temporary or permanent). I long for the day when I do not struggle so with my old man. When hurt is something I don't really even remember because I am with the One who loved all my hurt away. What a glorious day, when I can hug the ones I've loved and lost. I welcome the day when evil, and selfishness, and sin no longer rule the day and it is no longer necessary to pay the ultimate price to name the name of Jesus. How beautiful will that day be when the only thing on my agenda is loving and worshipping my Savior.

With the tumult in our world, the evil, and all the chaos I believe that we are living in those last moments. Maybe those "last moments" will be a few years, maybe it will be fifty - or even more. But, it is evident that our world is spiraling downward and losing all sight of the One who came to save them. 

On the day of goodbyes, that I wish I didn't have to be said, I want to encourage you that nothing you give up or do without will even matter for a millisecond when you see HIS face. In fact, I'll bet we will all wish that we gave more and sought our on pleasure less. No earthly gain will have any significance in that moment. All that will matter will be Him and those we helped to know Him. 

So, please, be ever diligent in hearing His still small voice. Say goodbye. Give more. Love selflessly. Value souls over things. He is coming and all this regret and sadness and difficulty will pass. What will remain are those who will worship Jesus forever with us. May we all invest in the expansion of that forever kingdom and its forever God.

Nothing else matters. Nothing else at all. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Let's Start at the Very Beginning

The beginning of the Gospels (well, Matthew and Luke, anyway) are widely-excepted as “Christmas” passages. I recently felt challenged by the Lord to read through the entire New Testament, but I had resisted a bit. I mean, I know the Gospels. I know the life of Jesus. I was raised in church, I know the stories. Most of them I could tell you backwards and forwards. Couldn’t we just skip ahead to like Acts and all those Pauline Epistles? That’s the good stuff. The practical stuff that I like and feel challenged by. Yes, let’s do that - and anyway, that’s practically the whole New Testament. Right?

But, in my innermost being, I felt like I was supposed to begin with the book of Matthew and read all the way through. I know there will be many things that God will reveal to me in the coming days about the life of Jesus, places in my life that do not line up with His, places where I need to let the miraculous Jesus in to do his thing.

Today, I began with Matthew 1. This chapter is honestly just a list of who begat who. I mean, really. What spiritual significance is there to that? Verse 17 says there were 14 generations between Abraham and David, 14 generations between David to captivity, and 14 generations from captivity to the birth of Christ. That’s 42 generations. Forty-two who-begat-whos. That’s a lot of names.
But, it’s verse 6 that stuck out to me:
v6. and to Jesse was born David the king. And to David was born Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

We all know the story of King David. He went up on to the roof (where he wasn’t supposed to be at that time of day) and saw Bathsheba bathing. He thought she was pretty. He summoned her. And, any person who is summoned by the king goes. He takes her to his bed and he gets her pregnant. He calls her husband home from the battlefield so that he will sleep with his wife and he will think that the child is his. Uriah, being the man of honor that he is, will not go home. He won’t sleep with his wife. He sleeps in the doorway. He will not go “off-duty.” His men are out there fighting and he is itching to get back out there with his men. David finally accepts that Uriah will not do what he wants, so he sends him out to battle and sets him up to lose his life in battle. Uriah dies. The child of adultery is born and he dies. David’s house is in tumult. Discord. Rebellion. Betrayal. Jealousy. Rape. Murder. The life of the God-chosen king becomes the stuff that soap-operas are made of.
Yet, even in all this God gave David an heir through this marriage through which He would send His precious son to save our unworthy souls. Does that not just blow your mind? In the first chapter of Matthew we are reminded that God has not forgotten that Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah. But, He had also not forgotten His promise to David.

There is such redemption in Jesus. Our very worst moments. Those moments that we just die if anyone really knew about. Those moments that have caused us the greatest regrets, the most tears, the most shame - there is redemption even in those moments. Because of He great love for me, God is taking my very worst moments and He is redeeming them to be my greatest. There is no doubt that David, and his whole household, paid greatly for His sin. My mama used to write in every Bible that she gave me, “Sin will take you further that you want to go. Keep you longer that you want to stay. And cost you more that you want to pay.” How true that is. Sin is costly - in every way. It robs our peace and our joy. It robs us of our souls. But when we give those things be they actions or thoughts - be they well-known or secretive, when we humble ourselves, when we give them to Jesus, Jesus can redeem even those things.

Jesus doesn’t leave us where we are. That’s what Satan does. He leads us to that sin let’s us have our fun and then lets us wallow in our guilt and shame. He is our greatest taunter. But, Jesus…..Jesus, says, “Where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Jesus says, “I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” Jesus always trades up. For your tumult He will give peace. For your guilt He will give redemption. For your sorrow He will give joy.

Whatever we are holding on to, it’s momentary pleasure is just not worth the damage to our souls. It’s just not. Depriving yourself of whatever it is may be difficult for a season. Satan will tempt you to return to it often and with his own brand of justification. But, we have a choice. Jesus and the future or Satan and the here and now. It’s really that easy - and that hard. And you cannot win the war today. But today, you can win the battle. Tomorrow will be another battle that Jesus will give you the strength to overcome. Today you just have to overcome today. That’s it. And, that’s possible. Right?

Here’s to overcoming. And to our worst moments being redeemed into something beautiful. I can follow a God like that anywhere.