I’ve not blogged regularly in so long (3 years!) I’m not sure I remember how to do it. But if quarantine has done anything, it’s ripped the carpet out from under all my “I just don’t have time for that” excuses. So here I am, trusting that this nudge to give blogging another go is from God and not just my boredom talking.
(Quick PSA: I felt a similar nudge to take a little personal getaway back in early March. You know, just a couple of days to myself to think, pray, and write. But I ended up canceling; I didn’t want to spend the money or the time away from my family. IDIOT. The next week, we were in lockdown. When God nudges, DO THE THING.)
So a person I love once told me about a church service they had attended. The pastor had assured his congregants that Jesus’ ministry on Earth was to love people and care for them, “But he never asked anyone to change.”
To which we should all respond with a very reverent and holy, “BALONEY.”
Remember the incident with the adulterous woman in John 8? Jesus wisely deflects her accusers with the simple suggestion: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
After the mob disperses, he asks, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?… Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (8:7, 10-11, italics mine).
Change, he said.
Then there was the invalid healed at the Pool of Bethsada. Jesus’ words to him are just as clear. “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5:14).
When a paralytic was lowered through the roof right in front of him, Jesus told the man, “Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven” before he healed the man’s legs (Matt. 9:2).
You are changed.
Messages of sin and calls to repentance are rarely popular. (Jesus ticked a lot of folks off with all his repentance talk.) And while I want to follow him as closely as possible, these are still hard words for me to write.
But God often speaks most clearly when things are quiet, and the last six weeks of life have been pretty quiet.
I’ve heard Him. He has convicted me of sin. He has asked me to repent. He has renewed and refreshed me when I have sought forgiveness. He has told me to change because change, he knows, brings life.
Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
When we confess our sins and come to him for redemption, we are forgiven. We are set free from the power of sin in our lives. Following Jesus—embracing him as Savior and our Lord—is finally being set free and made new.
Another of my favorite excuses, viciously annihilated by Covid-19, was that my schedule didn’t allow for the several days of staying home I would need to commit to finally getting Jack potty- trained. (Joke’s on me, eh?)
But it hasn’t been easy. It has taken a surprisingly long while to convince him that going in the toilet is, in fact, superior to going in his pants.
But yesterday, when the urge struck, Josh and I happened to be watching.
Jack stopped what he was doing and, quite dramatically, flung his beloved Little Brown Bear over his head and behind him as he raced to the bathroom. He knew the wrong thing to do and he knew the right thing to do, and the boy was ready to do right.
We laughed, of course. And we remembered Hebrews:
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1b, 2a).
Let this time of crazy quiet life be a wakeup call. Let’s throw off sin, repent, fix our eyes on Jesus and run like mad after him and only him.
Because for us—a people feeling trapped in quarantine—Jesus’ promise to us those who find life in him is especially sweet: “Whom the Son sets free, he is free indeed” (John 8:36).