Tuesday was not a grand day at my house. There were the petty irritations– a broken appliance, a missed appointment. Then there was a phone call that brought the news that a person I care for had taken yet another step in the long process of destroying his life, his choice both breaking my heart and filling me with anger! I was disappointed in myself, too, wondering why I could not be more consistently loving in these situations. You know about those kind of days, don’t you? They are too common.
That old Curse of sin fills our lives with frustrations.
In the story that tells about sin’s coming to Creation, there is a choice of rebellion, resulting in the alienation of the created from the Creator. Then, we read God pronouncement that because of sin, the ground “will produce thorns and thistles for you … By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:18-19, NIV) There you have the summary of human existence and it isn’t a pretty picture, is it? Apart from God, our days are a struggle. We are often defeated. And, we die – spiritually and physically. Many just give up, deciding to relieve the tedium with some momentary pleasure, regardless of the long-term consequence.
But I do not live in Genesis 3 any longer, nor must you!
Jesus came to announce a new Way for us to see the grip of sin broken – so that we can find “a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10, NLT) In the middle of the messes of this sin-sick world, those of us who are ‘in Christ’ can stay on top of it. How? Paul, after experiencing terrible persecution for bringing the Message of Christ to a pagan city, was knocked down for a time. But, he got up and dusted himself off, pressing on with hope.
Take encouragement from the assurance that pulses through the Spirit inspired words he penned. “We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:14-18, NIV)
So, what can we learn that will change the broken to whole, the meaningless to purposeful?
-Because of Christ, we are headed HOME!
Genesis says, ‘you just dirt, destined to return to dirt!’ Jesus says, “You’re an eternal creature and though you die, you will be raised to the Presence of God!”
–The difficulties of life are the fertile soil in which God’s grace can grow!
When we live hopefully in Christ, when we find His strength to overcome, people see Him. (Remember yesterday’s thought about treasure in clay pots?) When others see that we are connected to an unseen, yet very powerful Person, the message spreads and the Kingdom of God expands. We don’t just survive with gritted teeth; we thrive with a joy that rises up through our tears – not because we are clever or strong, but because the Spirit is renewing us inwardly, day by day.
Here is that same passage from a paraphrase of Scripture. Prayerfully read this word from the Word and let it sink deep into your mind. “The One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise! So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:14-18, The Message)
Kneel for a few moments and wait for the Lord. Hand off the frustrations, the sins, the fatigue to Him. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sov’reign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour
I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine
Joel Houston | Matt Crocker | Salomon Ligthelm © 2012 Hillsong Music Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
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