Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17, 2013

1 Corinthians 9:22-23
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Do you ever feel as though you are outside of the reach of God's love and grace?  Sometimes, you just know that you are going to do the wrong thing.  No matter how willing your heart or your spirit, you just know that you have one particular temptation or weakness you cannot seem to stand up against.  Maybe, you feel this is keeping you from being close to God, or that you are not fit to spread the Word of God to others while still trapped in your own sins.

First, let's get a couple of things straight.  Scripture tells us that there is nowhere we can hide where the Lord cannot see us; He fill the heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24).  So those things that you know you're going to do wrong?  God knows about them, too.  Sometimes, we may turn away from God in an effort to hide our wrongdoings, or because we feel unworthy of His grace.  Or, maybe, we're just not ready to acknowledge - or turn away from - our sin.  But, you can't keep secrets from God, so there's no us in trying to hide from Him.  You are never outside of His reach.

Second, don't ever believe that your shortcomings stand in the way of God using you to bring others to Him.  Yes, we should continually strive to turn away from our sin, and no, this is not a get-out-of-jail-free card to continue doing whatever we'd like.  But, our Lord works in mysterious ways, and even into our darkest places His light will shine.

Without giving any revealing details (which makes for a terribly dull anecdote - my apologies in advance), I was once somewhere I shouldn't have been, doing something I shouldn't have been doing.  While there, I felt strongly compelled to make what seemed to me to be a horribly awkward statement to someone I had just met.  This person immediately teared up.  It turns out I had given them just the message they needed to hear . . . though, it certainly had not come from me.

The point of that maddeningly unspecific story is that even in the places where we're not living the best example of a heart after Christ, in those places where we wish we could hide in secret from the Lord, He is still with us, still able to use us in His mysterious ways.  

We know that Jesus' twelve disciples were chosen from different professions and walks of life.  Each had their own strengths and weaknesses.  But, we sometimes forget that there are many examples in the Gospels where Jesus rebukes the disciples.  Yet, these, as apostles, were responsible for spreading God's Word and establishing His church after Jesus' death and resurrection.

Many of Paul's letters to the early Christians, such as those at Corinth, remind us that Paul was trying to instruct them in the ways of the church, not because he felt he was better than they were, but because he, too, was a sinner, and was able to speak to others of God's mercy and grace because he, himself, had received it.  He knew the things with which they were struggling not because he was looking down on them, but because he had been down among them.

During the Lenten season, when some of us use the time to try to let go of a particular vice, let us remember that God can turn our test into a testimony.  Whatever we may be struggling with now, God can still use us to reach other members of His flock.  Sometimes, even in our weakest moments when we feel the farthest from His light, we can still reflect that light onto others.

Let us pray:
Dear Lord, I know that I can never do enough on my own to be deserving of Your mercy and Your grace.  Though I try, sometimes it feels that I just can't break free of sin.  Please help me to remember that even when I am at my worst, I cannot hide from Your light.  Your love never fails; it endures forever.  You are near to all who call on You, and You lift up all who are bowed down.  Thank You for using even my weakness to bring others to Your glory.  Amen.

~Mary Elizabeth Watson

Jeremiah 23:16-32
Psalms 118 or 145
1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Mark 8:31-9:1

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