Friends, we should never tempt God. And that is not what I am doing when I say that I have grown to a point in my life where ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I don’t fear death. I once did. But there are times when I feel weary with this world and the evil in people- and I yearn to be with Christ again. I say, ‘again’, because the Bible said he knew us before we were formed in the womb. I was known to him before I was even made- thus, I ‘was’ before I was born- I knew him before I knew anyone else. I sense this even now- and I miss him. I miss God. This separation from him, through sin, is unbearable sometimes.
Jesus did nothing wrong. Indeed, he did everything right. He lived the perfect human life and was utterly rejected by all of humanity. What does that say about humanity? It means that all of humanity rejects what humanity should be! We yearn for this perfection; we have words like, ‘savior’, ‘valor’, ‘courage’, ‘bravery’, ‘epic’, ‘valiant’, ‘honor’, ‘truth’, ‘duty’ and ‘heroes’ and we create mighty speeches, documents and legends that claim to lay laurels at the feet of these, ‘the best of mankind.’ And yet, we seem to want none of it in reality. We, literally, hammered the best of these to a cross and mocked him.
Only those who have accepted Christ as their Savior have received the Holy Spirit and it is the Holy Spirit who has cleansed us of that particular malady- the inability to love what we seek: Christ. Now, with opened eyes, hearts full and intellects in high gear, through Jesus, we can now openly hunger for human perfection and love the source from whom it comes: God. We can happily, giddily, joyfully and best of all, shamelessly, run to our Father in Heaven and call upon his name, knowing that we will not find an empty seat. He will be there, real, warm and comforting. All the Good that we wish to be will be there and we can love him without fear, without contempt, without misplaced pride or strangled intellect.
A brilliant light has replaced the darkness that once was. Everything suddenly makes sense and we can’t understand why we were once so blind. The Bible speaks of this ‘light’ often- it isn’t symbolic, it’s literal. Light blooms in the mind and dispels darkness- it is palpable and real. Only those who have experienced it understand it.
“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Isaiah 35:5-6
For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” John 3: 3
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” John 9:39
I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Acts 26:18
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3: 19-21
14″But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory,are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:14-18
The blood of Christ, representative of the sheer love of God for his creation, was stronger than our sin, much stronger, and simply washed it away and healed us. And what price did we have to pay for this gift of light, this gift of reconciliation, of being made whole once more? Nothing. Just to reach out and take it with thankfulness. Just believe that the gift is really there, held in the loving hands that we can see, right before us. To not knock it away for fear it is a cruel mirage meant to tease us when we thirst; to have the bravery to overcome the terrible doubt that we might look the fool for believing in kindness. That’s it. Such a small price- and yet, so large for the blind, for him who can’t see where his next step is. But for those who trust, there will be light- and it will be wonderful.
And so, our hearts begin to beat in time with God, the source of joy, love and truth. We can even be the hero in the story we so loved- indeed, we now know that it will happen upon our earthly passing. I ask you, who would give this up once they’ve found it?
The more one understands these things, the less appetizing this world begins to be and the more you yearn for God’s presence. It is not a suicidal death. It is the opposite. It is the impatience to begin the rest of your true life. But this, too, is sin. Because God will not be rushed- not by me and not by you. Everything has been laid out exactly as God planned. Every person will have their chance to find salvation, one way or another- and you and I are part of someone’s journey. So, we don’t get to leave just yet.
Those given three bars of gold must invest them into their lives and give 6 bars of gold back to God upon their death. Those only given one bar must still give back 2. No one gets off easy and no one gets off hard. But we all have a job to do and we must do it.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t yearn for the end of hatred, of gossip, of careless and mean spirited speech. I do- social media has created a whole new breed of sinner- the endless critic and gossip. And the maiming and killing in the name of a god or God or even, ‘good’ rends my heart in frustration and sometimes anger. When I feel like this, as I did this morning, I turn to God. I turn to Jesus and I remember what he said:
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” -John 10:27-30
I curl myself up (sometimes literally), imagine myself in Jesus’ giant hand and I remind him of his promise. I stay there, safe and sound, and ask him to keep everything and everyone far from me and to restore my strength until I can work for him again. And know what? Every time, every time I ask, he restores me. I’m sure some modern, atheist scientist will point and say, ‘See, they need God and so, invent him.” If so, then God is the best therapy there is- because on him, we can always depend and in him, there is always a solution. And he even finds use for my prior sins and weaknesses and redeems them so that nothing is wasted- as this article testifies. I never yearn for death- I yearn for light- and even at my lowest, Jesus somehow always manages to bring it.