Friday, January 28, 2005

grace, forgiveness and moving on

Have you ever watched a horror movie? What about a horror movie about ghosts or hauntings or something like that? In Louisville, there a TB hospital that is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the world. Late at night, lights can be seen where there are none and sounds can be heard throughout the complex. It's so spooky that there is a movie coming out filmed on location complete with murder, ghosts, etc. The most haunted place in the world...

I really don't think a physical location is the most haunted place in the world. In reality, I think the most haunted place in the world is the human mind...mine specifically. Every day I wake up, the sun is shining, the wind is blowing, there's a faint song playing in my head that I am bound to sing at some point in the is great. The past is behind and the present is before me like an open road in the midwest. No obstacles as far as the eye can see.

Then, the first ghost shows up. It's not a literal ghost, I don't think. It's just a memory, a thought, a remembrance of a long forgotten, long forgiven sin. I remember doing it, enjoying it, but not repenting. Conveniently that part of the memory escapes me. I remember the guilt I felt. I remember the feeling of condemnation. I remember every detail of that experience except the repentance and forgiveness I had.

Pretty soon other ghosts present themselves, and my mind feels like a haunted house. Pictures from the past, that I am not proud of, pass in front of my mind's eye constantly; one right after the other. Guilt increases, self worth plummets and I am left kneeling before a holy God, face flat on the floor, screaming and crying for forgiveness.

It's at that point, in the quiet of my tears, that my Deliverer picks me up, holds me close, and whispers, "They're already forgiven and forgotten, my love." I look in his eyes, the eyes of my bride-groom and I see His love for me and for His bride, the church. I see no condemnation...just love. I cry more at the sight of this undeserved love that has been lavished upon us, but as I cry and focus on His love and grace, the ghosts begin to disappear. The guilt fades and the images seem to melt into the walls around me. Grace, like rain, pours out on me and I bask in His glory, the glory that He gives us--the radiance that is His righteousness.

Then my day continues, with the ghosts being vanquished. Throughout the day, they return, but I remember the love and the grace I saw in Christ's eyes. I turn the other direction from the past and the chilling ghosts that reside there, and head toward the present and toward the future. There is therefore, now no condemnation for those in Christ, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death.

Years ago, a friend explained the difference between grace and forgiveness to me. He said to picture my friends and me playing baseball in the Sandlot and I hit the ball over the fence and hear glass shattering as I hit Mr. Robison's window. Forgiveness is when I tuck my tail between my legs, ring the bell and confess to him. He looks at me and says I forgive you. If you want to work around the yard and the house to pay for the damages, I'll accept that.

Grace, though, is the same situation, only when I arrive at the house, Mr. Robison says that everything is forgiven. He says not to worry about payment and gives me a brand new ball. "The old one was pretty beat up and mangled. Take this new one, son."

Wow. That's what Christ has done for us. Our sin has wrecked our lives and God has forgiven us in Christ. Not only that, He tells us the payment is taken care of (it was paid with Christ's blood), and sees our old life--beaten, ugly and bloody. He says, "The old one was pretty beat up and mangled. Take this new one, son."

Friends, we have new life in Christ. We will do stupid things and make mistakes. The beauty is that we can learn and have forgiveness and grace because of what Christ has done. Our sins--past, present and future were nailed to the cross on Calvary, and we stand firm, here in the righteousness of Christ. Let us see the love and grace He pours over us and lavishes upon us. Let us take this new life and run with it. Let us not look to the past and allow the ghosts of our sins haunt us. The past is past, plain and simple. Let us walk into the present and the future knowing that our God walks with us and is already where ever we are going. There is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus...

until Christ is formed in us...


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