Wednesday, January 13, 2016

the place of grace

The Word for today:
Isaiah 46, 47
mark this: Isaiah 46:4--
Even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.
A lot of Bible study and a lot of sermons can sound like self-improvement programs; about how to be a more vibrant, confident you; how you can release the sparkle buried deep within your personality; how you can get God to pull some strings so you can finally land that promotion; or how you can get that date with the homecoming queen.
But God didn't watch Jesus die on the cross so you and I could release our inner sparkle.
Jesus didn't even die so we could go to heaven. Jesus died to get us out of hell.
Later--a whole other issue on a whole other day--Jesus rose from the dead. That's what got me into heaven.
When I was much younger, in a much younger world, I heard a song which mentioned Jesus. Heaven knows it's not a church song; but we'd do well to make it one:
Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower.
And when he knew for certain
only drowning men could see him,
He said, "All men shall be sailors, then,
until the sea shall free them."
But he himself was broken,
long before the sky would open.
Forsaken, almost human,
he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone. (1)
Things can be upside down in the kingdom of heaven. There, many who are 'first' will be last (2). There, a poverty of spirit is the greatest endowment (3). There, redemption is purchased in solitary suffering; joy is begotten in selfless sacrifice.
If you come to Jesus in order to get a leg up in this life, you will find him poor indeed. He has nothing to give you. There are no halos to hand out.
But when your prayer is just to get back up; when your hope is just to hold on through one more round--that's the day you'll see him; that's your day of Jubilee.
There comes the inevitable night when you can't find your way. At its heels comes the cold gray dawn, when you can't find your courage, or your will to carry on; when you feel like you're losing your grip, even your mind; when you can't remember who you are, let alone who they say you should be.
If any part of the paragraph you just read isn't foreign to you--if you're there, or fast approaching--I can testify that your day is on its way. While God has allowed you to turn the wheel, He's been doing the steering, maneuvering you to the place where He's your only prayer and your only hope.
God's grace will find you there; as surely as sin once found you out:
Even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.
Jesus Christ, no stranger to your darkness (5), will find you in that place of grace. He will pick you up, and He will see you home.
(1) "Suzanne," Leonard Cohen; (2) Matthew 19:30; (3) Matthew 5:3; (4) Isaiah 46:4; (5) Luke 23:44

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