Today’s scripture readings are an interesting mix. Wisdom describes, well, wisdom. The psalmist speaks of God’s word. How its truth endures and it sheds light and gives understanding. In Luke, Jesus talks about the Second Coming….. I think. I have to tell you, the Luke passage is confusing to me. I read through it several times. I prayed about it. Is Jesus talking about himself? If not, then what is he talking about? And then I had one of those light bulb moments. I’m the Pharisee. I’m the one demanding clear answers. I want to know when, where, why, how. Spell out what I need to do to get this Kingdom of God. I’m a rules and works kind of guy. I want Jesus in a box. It just doesn’t work that way, does it?
Jesus says, Dan, I’m giving myself as a sacrifice for you. A free gift. Here, take it. And I’m asking questions about what I need to do to earn it? I’m thinking if I don’t understand this scripture, there is something really wrong with me. I’m thinking, how do I trust God? And I honestly fear failing Christ. It can be paralyzing. You would think Jesus would throw up his hands in exasperation. But He doesn’t.
Jesus often uses children when he wants to teach me something.
Our Wednesday night children’s program visits a local assisted living home for the elderly twice a year. We sing songs, make a craft, play a game and visit with the residents. The residents always love to see the kids. My favorite part of the visit comes when we break into small groups and visit with a resident. They tell us what life was like when they were young and answer some of the children’s questions. Amazing stories of family. Stories of struggles and joys in a different time. In the last visit, the woman who talked with my group of children told them about living on her family farm with very little money and living through the Second World War. It was fascinating. When she came to the end of her talk she said something very sad. She had no children of her own and all her family and friends were dead. She commented that when we come into this life we are welcomed with loving arms. But when we leave we are alone. As we left I could tell that her words affected the children as much as they did me. Each child gave her a hug good bye. As it turned out it was a teaching moment. I told the kids that Jesus tells us that when we leave this world, He welcomes us with loving arms. I could see in their eyes that they remembered the scripture where Jesus promised to prepare a place for us. Trusting Christ’s promise can bring great hope.
At a recent neighborhood picnic at my brother’s house, my brother’s neighbor showed me an unusual set up in his basement bathroom. No light switches. When you walk into the bathroom, a motion detector turns on the light. When you leave, after several minutes of no motion, the light goes off. During the picnic, someone noticed that a neighbor’s little girl was missing. She was too young to go far, but a quick search of adjoining yards turned up nothing. Consternation and fear began to mount. Then someone opened the basement bathroom door, the light went on and, as you may have guessed, there was the little girl. When the light went off in the bathroom, she was too afraid to move. If she had just moved a finger, the light would have gone back on, but her fear of the dark kept her from moving.
I thought about how like this little girl I can be. Fear can be paralyzing. Fear that I am failing God. Fear that I cannot live up to God’s expectations. Believing my salvation rests on my own actions instead of God’s grace. Believing I have to (and cannot) earn God’s love. My prayer today is for those of us who struggle with fear; that we would have the wisdom to trust in God’s love.
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