Monday, September 16, 2013

Desert Quiet

yucca-sunsetPsalm 28:4 (KJV)  Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.
The image came from Flikr, under a creative commons license.  Unfortunately, no photographer was listed, so I can’t give credit where credit is due.  And one other technical note.  We now have a new feature here that will bring up a box with verse text when you mouse over the verse reference.  A light tap on the reference on your tablet will do the same.  The references now show (like links) in blue.  So, you may see more instances where I just share the reference, knowing you can get the verse displayed.

I actually didn’t have a verse in mind to go with the picture.  But this one is closer to what I had in mind than any of the other desert verses.  But this image took my meditation in some interesting directions.

When we look at that picture, the first impression is a quiet desert, no activity.  But there’s another reality.  In the daytime, the plants might bloom and flower, a few animals and reptiles might forage for food.  But the heat of the day keeps most inactive.  When the sun goes down and the desert cools down, that’s when the desert comes alive.  Insects, reptiles, scavengers, hunters all come out.  That thought gave me a mental image of the activity of sin.

Sin depends on its life not being eradicated by the heat of the light of God.  Not only does God separate Himself from sin, but sin withers to nothingness in His presence.  That’s good for those of us who have repaired our relationship with God.  As we grow in that relationship, we get to continually take advantage of our grace given gift of being able to go back to a clean slate.  Now think about how we closed last Friday’s post.

We said that God created all of us with value.  And we all want recognition for what we do and for our inherent value.  But that’s where the problem lies.  Given a little time in the night desert, hanging out with the critters, away from the light, and we see ourselves as attached to the darkness and the critters.  Instead of connected to the light.  That changes our sense of who we are, what’s possible, and whether we think we can get back.

Those of us who are detouring from a relationship with God may have been convinced that God no longer cares about them or that God is so angry with us that they can’t see a way back.  They’ve been convinced of an existence of sin in 1John 3:8 without the remedy in 1John 2:2.  They’re shown God in Psalm 7:11 without being shown that wickedness includes an element of unrepentance.  We don’t have a punitive God that wants to squash us like a bug.  We have a loving God who wants to eradicate sin, but save us.  But some are never taught that.  Yes, there will be consequences for our choices, but we can always be lovingly restored.

There are others who’ve never known God.  They may have a concept of a god, but it often fits the angry God described above.  Or, like some believers who’ve deviated from following God, see themselves as too bad for God to want them.  They have no idea that God’s love for them is what sent Jesus to save the lost (Matthew 18:11).  Others have a concept that there is no God.  All of this, including us, is some random occurrence.  If there’s no God, accountability is only to others on earth and there’s no salvation.  Repentance, if any, is merely earthbound.

And there are those of us who have experienced God’s love, grace, and mercy.  Who know that there is a way back, whether it’s from total unbelief or a foray into the “pleasures” of sin.  Romans 6:15 makes it clear that grace is not an excuse to sin.  But that doesn’t prevent grace moving in honest repentance to restore us to our rightful place in God’s kingdom.  Since we’ve experienced that, we need to share it with others.

John 3:16-17 (KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
God doesn’t limit who can be saved, we do.  Those who know this have a responsibility to journey into the night desert to draw others back to the light.  Not as a works program, but as a grateful result of what God has done for us.
Where are you, in the desert, today?  Do you need to be brought out of the night desert?  Or do you need to help others out?

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