Monthly Archive for February 2019
“Are we going to get killed?” I was too scared to answer. Besides, I was only 12 and the question came from my 10 –year- old brother; what did I know? We had walked through the woods all day long, sometime in late May. In Texas that can mean deadly thunderstorms. We were by a creek two miles from home.
The sky lit up, the hair on the back of our necks stood up, and then the thunder! Less than a second between the light and the sound; that is a bad sign. The smell of burnt electrical wire insulation was next. That means we were nearly struck by lightning. We stayed low to the ground and stayed perfectly still. That continued for about 10 minutes, but it was a fast-moving storm, so as quick as that had happened, then just as suddenly came the sound of large drops of water hitting all around us.
I do not have words to express how relieved we were when the rain started and the thunder and lightning subsided! I thought I heard brother crying , but on close inspection, he was laughing! The relief was amazing. I have had few emotions that matched that event.
C.S. Lewis once said something that has caused several people to question me on the meaning. I think the question comes because people think that accepting Christ into your heart starts as seeing your need to be saved well enough , but surely not something that would start in fear? Yes, very much so!
“Of course I agree that Christianity is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I’ve been describing, ( that deep down we all agree with the moral law of God and yet we all fail it, and we sense the dread of its demands) and it’s just no good trying to go on to that comfort without that dismay ( the misery and fear of God’s rightful judgement against you personally for your sin, and you sensing the hopelessness of that reality). In Christianity , as in the war ( in the middle of WW 11) and in everything else, comfort is the one thing you can’t get by looking for it. If you are looking for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you’re your looking for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth- only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with, and in the end, despair.” Lewis, “Case For Christianity” P. 28.
This truth is expressed in Romans 7. “ For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin,,, I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good,,, I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin,,, wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Think of a line from the song, “ Amazing Grace.” “ Was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” What an ironic statement. A dread comes before we are ready to be saved. The revelation of our deep need must come before the gospel can give us a new life. The old life has to be abandoned. We need more than a little remodeling! We are ruined without Christ!
So after the “thunder” of the Law of God and its righteous demands, come the sweet “rain” of the gospel. We knew how helpless we were, that day in the woods, to save ourselves from electrocution. Pray for those who think the gospel is simply a remodeling program, to make us a little bit better as people. Pray for those who say, “Well, I have done wrong, but I am still a pretty good person!” That person will never feel the sweet rain, after the storm. They refuse to see their need. They do not see the Law of God and the despair of their miserable failure to keep it. There is a storm coming. Are you ready? JWP “ Was blind, but now I see.”
Where was I born?
Mother wanted to visit us after we had been in the Great Northwest for about 5 years. She had never seen the mountains, so a trip to Mt. Rainier was in order. They had the “tubing” lane there and she wanted to watch the kids do that and cheer for them at the bottom of the run. We forgot to bring her proper footwear for the snow, but no matter, she was not staying in the car. Imagine the scene as mom wears her black flats up the hill. No socks, feet inside two plastic bags she found. A couple of teen-aged girls came up and wanted to know where she got the outfit. A serious compliment.
I ask mom how she felt so comfortable no matter who she was around, and no matter what situation she found herself to be in. She said, ” You have to really believe that Christ has given you your real identity, and not worry about what others think. You don’t want to be a prisoner in a cell you made for yourself do you?”
So the next place we go is to Port Angeles to take the ferry across to Victoria Island in Canada. She had never been out of the country so I told her the guard would ask a few questions; so don’t get nervous. Do you know what happens to someone when you tell them not to get nervous? Right.
“What is your name,” she answers that one with no problem. “Purpose of your visit?” Again, no problem. The guard had established the fact that she was with me, her son, to which she included non-essential information about how proud she was of her boy, etc. Then came the choke question. “Where were you born?”
She turned pale and turned right around to me and ask,
” Where was I born?” Now think about that a minute. I am 5th out of 6 kids. She was about 30 when I was born so how would I be the authority person to know this information? As a joke,( I hoped it would be received as a joke, ) I put my hands out so the guard could cuff me.
Mom caught on to none of this, but instead, grabbed the guards arm and began patting him saying she was sorry, but just could not remember! He put his head on the railing away from her so she could not see him laughing and with a hand waving behind him flagged us onward.
“So mom, what about that great statement you made about knowing who you are in Christ when we were on Mt. Rainier the other day, you seemed to know full well who you were that day, but today you don’t remember where you were born?”
I expected a clever retort, but I got this. ” I may not remember where I was born, but I know who made me, and that Christ is my Savior, and I know I will forever be with Him .”
” Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4.
Everything down here gets stripped away from us, but our life in Christ just starts to glow bright at that point. The New testament has a lot to say about your true identity in Jesus. At some point, you will have to choose to live in that identity, otherwise, your loss and sadness ,and the grief of this temporary life, will crush you.
Where are your treasures stored, here or eternity? What do you really depend on for your identity? 10 minutes into tomorrow will prove it once again. It will show your real identity.
I think you will be found true, but you will not be convinced of it without separating the wheat from the chaff once again. That work is never really done, but it an encouraging separation, and it brings increasing joy as you do it. Do you know who you are? JWP