Friday, January 29, 2010

Run to God

Sorry I forgot to post this last week.

“Run to God.”
January 24, 2010

Jay Leno tells a story about his mother in his book Leading with my chin.
He says she was born in Scotland, but lived in constant fear of deportation from the United States.  It was not that she was here illegally, in fact she received her citizenship many years ago.  She lived in constant fear, though because you can miss four questions on the citizenship test.  She missed five.  The 5th one she missed was “What is the Constitution?”  Her answer was “a boat.”  Well, she was not entirely wrong.  They lived in Boston where the USS Constitution is permanently docked.
The judge read the answer and immediately denied her citizenship.  Her husband stormed up and said, “She is not wrong- the Constitution is a boat-“
The Judge patiently replied, “the constitution is the basic governing document---“
“But it’s also a boat in Boston-come on!”
The judge finally couldn’t take any more. He said, “Fine. She’s a citizen. Now get out of here!”
So Mr. Leno said to his wife, “you passed!”
“No, I didn’t pass,” she whimpered.  “I said boat.  They’re going to come after me!”
That memory plagued her for the rest of her life.
 From then on, any time she was even in the proximity of a policeman, she quaked with fear.  When Jay took her to Scotland 50 years later, she asked, “Will I be able to get back in?”

Guilt can be like a big red tattoo right between our eyes.  There is no way to cover it up, no way to look in the mirror without seeing it. Every time we brush our teeth or comb our hair, lay in the dark trying to fall asleep, or sit alone on a quiet afternoon- it is there.  Guilt can be a constant companion; gnawing at our hearts, eroding our happiness, poisoning our relationships and corroding everything that can bring us joy.

Let’s look at the 36th Psalm.  There is a man that should feel guilty.
Listen to the Message version-You know I love the Message translation for the Psalms.
He has no regard for God,
      he stands insolent before him. 
   He has smooth-talked himself  into believing
   That his evil will never be noticed. 

   Words gutter from his mouth,
      dishwater dirty.
   Can't remember when he
      did anything decent.

   Every time he goes to bed,
      he fathers another evil plot. 
   When he's loose on the streets,
      nobody's safe. 
   He plays with fire
      and doesn't care who gets burned.

That is a man who should shake in his boots every time he is near a police officer.
Now I know you all well enough to know that this guy in the Psalm is not you.  You are basically good people.  He doesn’t even bear the slightest resemblance to you- - - most of the time.
Most of the time. 
Don’t we all have our moments though?
I do.
Don’t we all have our moments when evil thoughts come flooding in to our hearts?
Don’t we all have our moments when revenge looks sweet like the cake in the bakery window?
Am I the only one whose mouth is dishwater dirty- maybe not with cuss words but at least with unloving words?
I’m not alone am I?

And then we feel guilty.  That red tattoo appears between our eyes and we just know that somehow everyone can see how filthy we are.  Somehow everyone knows the awful things we have thought and felt.  Somehow everyone knows the terrible plots we have hatched in the quiet darkness of our private thoughts.  The funny thing is, most of the time other people can’t see it.  We forget that we are almost the only one who can see the ugly stain of guilt.  I said almost.
I said almost.  Because God sees it too. 
God sees it too and it makes him sad.

But the Psalmist goes on
God's love is meteoric,
      his loyalty astronomic,
   His purpose titanic,
      his verdicts oceanic.
   Yet in his largeness
      nothing gets lost;
   Not a man, not a mouse,
      slips through the cracks.

Did you catch that?
In God’s love--- nothing gets lost.  Nothing and no one slips through the cracks.  Not a mouse- not a man- not a woman. No one escapes god’s love.  God loves you, and there is nothing you can do about it.  God loves you, and there is nothing you can do to change that.
Sure God sees our sin and it enflames his righteous anger.  Sure, God knows your evil thoughts and impure motives, and vengeful plans and the lies of your lips and God feels violated.
But nothing makes God sadder than to see you sit in guilt.  Nothing breaks God’s heart quicker than to see us wallowing in the muck of guilt- feeling sorry for ourselves- sorry we were ever born.  Nothing, nothing, nothing grieves God so much as to see his children floundering in a sea of sorrow, a river of remorse, an ocean of guilt.
Because it isn’t necessary.  There is no reason for us to live in fear of deportation from God’s kingdom.  There is no reason for us to live in dread of God’s wrath.  There is no reason for us to live in our guilt.
The Palmist writes
7-9 How exquisite your love, O God!
      How eager we are to run under your wings,
   To eat our fill at the banquet you spread
      as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
   You're a fountain of cascading light,
      and you open our eyes to light.
 10-12 Keep on loving your friends;
      do your work in welcoming hearts.

There is no reason for us to live in guilt, but we have to be willing to give up some things.  We have to be willing to exchange the pain of guilt for the joy of God’s love.  We have to be willing to trade the emptiness of shame for the wonderful banquet of love that God spreads before us.  We have to be willing to swap the comfort of the darkness for the ecstasy of the light of God’s love.
It does not seem like that would be a very hard decision.
Let see . . .  pain or love. . .  emptiness or satisfaction. . .  darkness or light.
It doesn’t seem like it would be a very hard decision . . .  so what is holding you back?

My friends- God loves you more than you can imagine.  God wants you more than you can understand.  God forgives you quicker than we forgive ourselves.  So run.  Run.  Run as fast as you can.  Run to the shelter of God’s wings.  Run to the joy of God’s banquet.  Run to the fountain of everlasting light cascading across your life removing guilt and shame and freeing you from sin itself. 
Run, brothers and sisters, run.  Run in prayer into God’s presence- and be forgiven, be free, be alive in Christ.

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