You know, the first night…when the world collapsed…I slept in my clothes. I couldn’t even take off my shirt without falling apart. While to some of you that seems pathetic, to many of you, a tear just fell because you know where I was that day.
That shirt doesn’t fit me these days. Just before everything went horribly wrong, I had lost 118 pounds over a year. It was the first time in my life I’d lost that much. Eventually, I gained it all back, and I have since lost some of it, and I continue to work to lose more with what time I do have. But that shirt doesn’t fit me anymore.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
I have clothes that are too big and some that are too small, but it has nothing to do with size. By the grace of God, I am no longer the man I was. And God help me, I never want to be him again! You see, we can spend nights and days trying to figure out who did what. My ex has her sins, and I have mine. And in the legal arena, there may be cause to bring them to bear for the safety of little ones. But when the legalities are put aside, and the truth gets laid on your shoulders, it’s just you and God!
The first night, I couldn’t take my shirt off. I felt too bare. The next night, I managed to take it off, but I still couldn’t go without a shirt of some-sort on. By the end of the first week, I was able to sleep shirtless, as always, but my pillow learned to hold the rain. In the midst of that pain, it’s easy to feel that “I don’t deserve this” or “I didn’t want this! I didn’t bring this!” Brother, let me tell ya that you are totally normal to feel that! During this time, you will be totally normal to feel such things. And I will not take that away.
Still, I have to proceed forward because you and everyone else here needs to understand these few things that it took me two years to understand.
1) It’s not about who deserves what! It’s about Jesus!
Right about now, I probably would’ve burst into tears and asked, “What does He WANT from me?!?” As a beloved friend once said to me, “He wants all of you!” And He deserves that.
Did you hear me? He deserves that! You and I are sinful, fallen beings. We don’t legitimately deserve anything good. Jesus, on the other hand, is perfect and gave His own life to be brutally, horrendously, viciously beaten and hung on a cross to die! He did that so that He could have you…if you’re willing. See, He’s also a perfect gentleman and will not force Himself on you.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. He won’t force Himself? What do you call this?!?!?” I call it an intervention! What you don’t see, based on such a response, is the cliff you were headed for at 90 miles an hour; He stopped you and, yes, that hurts! But it would hurt a whole lot worse if He didn’t. He loves you so much that He was willing to take more abuse from your anger than to risk you not knowing He cared. Dude, when’s the last time someone loved you so much that they were willing to put it all on the line, all for the chance to save you from your own self and from eternal death?
He wants all of you!
2) You need to let your sin die!
I don’t know what you’re into, but I know that if you’re reading this and even remotely identifying with it, there’s a reason Jesus decided to split your life open and wrench your heart out. Even if His entire purpose is to make Himself known by this trial, I am still sure that there is some area of your life that you have yet to fully surrender to Him. If you’ll open your ears to hear, I know He’ll make it apparent. Let Him have you; let Him begin to cut out the cancer of sin.
For me, I had some serious sin in my life. In fact, I had grown so accustomed to my sin, I didn’t even realize it was killing me. As God has worked in my life, He is transforming how I think, the ways I see things, and even my very perception of my life and the people around me. While I’m gonna date myself a bit, it’s kind of like the Matrix, in that scene near the end, when Neo finally sees the Matrix for what it is! At the same time, I have to remember to keep my eyes focused on Jesus, for nothing else will make this work possible except keeping myself wholly submitted to Him.
If you try to grab the Surgeon’s scalpel, you will cut yourself. You may make a small nick, a huge gash, or pop an artery. But no matter what happens, you can be assured you’ll have done damage! Let the Master Surgeon do His job, and you listen and obey! Yes. Your sin will scream bloody murder! You may even feel as though someone is taking your last gold coin on the day to buy bread when you haven’t eaten in 10 days. Well, don’t just let that person have the gold coin, toss it to them! And bless ’em! =)
He wants all of you, and He wants to clean you up!
3) He wants to restore you!
This is where I can’t speak too much. I’m only part of the way there…or, at least, I feel like I am. But I know my God! He promises to restore the years the locust have eaten, and I believe Him! Two years ago, I couldn’t say that! Two years ago, the world still felt like it was imploding right under my feet. But in two years, He has taught me how faithful He is, and how perfect His plans are.
He means what He says, and He says it in Joel 2:25, “Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you.” This is the outpouring of God on repentance. When we surrender to Him, turn from our sin, and seek His face, He is more than happy to pour forth blessings, even if the trial does not subside. Yes, sometimes, the trial continues amidst the blessings, as He works out whatever His purpose is, to His good pleasure.
My dear brother, the hour of the Lord is coming, when He will return. Perhaps we will not see our restoration here, or perhaps we will. In whatever situation, we know the Lord is good! And we know He will take care of us!
So, let us rest in Him: surrendered, sin purged, letting Him be our Lord and Master! The time is short, so let us get serious about the things of the Lord. Perhaps, we can get a few more to join with us, in Jesus, before we go!
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Vires et Honorem
1 Corinthians 15:10