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Are you a reader? How often have you picked up a book because you heard so many people recommending it as a "must read'?
Stick with me here, because it might take you a bit to see where I'm headed.
In April 2013 I first began reading the contemporary spiritual classic, KNOWING GOD by JI Packer. I had heard from so many people that I would consider to be spiritually mature, this was a "must read". So when a small group of women, seeking to grow together in faith and intimacy with the Lord decided to study this book, I was eager to jump in. I wonder how many in that group actually finished the book. Our gathering dissolved before we were even half-way through it. As for me, it took me until March of 2014 to get all the way through this complex tome. It definitely wasn't light reading.
One of the most important themes in the book that continues to come up repeatedly in my spiritual life, now that I have completed this volume, is PROPITIATION.
Sweet Mother of Pearl! What a word! In a nutshell, what it means is that Jesus, God in the flesh, was horrifically tortured and executed on a cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the entire human race, so that God's justice could be satisfied. This payment for our wrong made a way for us to get to heaven, where we never could have before. It would be like having a million dollar bail set that we could never pay on our own. Yet, God is so loving, that He took the punishment for our crimes.
Take my own household for instance. Now, we know that God cannot be anywhere near anything that is not sinless, pure, loving, and glorious. It's as if His very nature repels such imperfection. Yet, in any ordinary day, amongst the 5 people living under my roof, we collectively offend our Maker beyond belief. There's the swearing of the teenage boy who has endured one too many pokes with an IV needle this week. There's the edgy crankiness of the teenage girl who forgot to take her medication to manage joint pain. There's the impulsivity of the junior high girl who just has to blurt out the inappropriate thing that she has running through her head. There's the irritated father who says unkind things to the children. And there's the frustrated mother who shreds the father in response to how he handled the kids.
Whew! That's just one, brief, instantaneous snapshot of the many manifestations of sinfulness under my roof. Repeat those scenarios several times in 24 hours. Add to those the nasty, prideful, or judgmental thoughts we have towards others, the cheating or lying that goes on, the impure things viewed or listened to on the internet or TV, and we are looking pretty repugnant within these 4 walls.
Now take what I've described within my home and multiply it by the number of houses just on my street. Statistics would make it likely that at least one person on this street is cheating on their spouse, maybe even more than one. Now take that sin and multiply it by my city. The probability is that there are spouses being abused, children being neglected, substances being abused at an alarming rate, gossip overflowing, shoplifting or stealing being repeatedly perpetrated in homes and shops, and lies being told every waking hour in this town. Are you disgusted yet? Now multiply these behaviors by our state, our nation, and our world. Think of the horrific things that you are flooded with on the news every day. The disease, wars, beheadings, economic difficulties, dirty politics, riots, and pervasive injustice are enough to put anyone in a dour mood. That's a WHOLE lotta sin!
Sit and marinate on that for a bit, my friend, because you can't begin to experience the full awesomeness of God until you do.
Despite all of my children's special health care and psycho-social needs, I so often still want to wring their little necks. Despite all of my husband's devotion and commitment to our family, I still want to walk out on him at times.
Yet, once I begin to understand how incredibly much I have been forgiven, I can begin to forgive. I have to say, the uglier I am willing to admit I am, the more beautiful Jesus looks to me.
If Jesus died once for ALL, I can not only give grace and mercy to my family, but also to the doctor that is frustrating me, or to the insurance company who is trying to deny my claims, or to the school staff who doesn't want to try things my way. It may not come easy at first. I have to let go and take many a deep breath. Still, I am grown more and more into the likeness of Jesus as I follow hard after Him, and keep a grateful heart for His enormously incomprehensible gift.
PRAY: Wow, God! When I contemplate all that You have done to save us, I realize that I have no right to be so selfish and unforgiving. When my patience is running thin, remind me that Your patience doesn't run out on me. Make my heart look more like Yours, Jesus.
~ Barb Dittrich