|Posted by ruthsmithmeyer-com on December 19, 2013 at 10:10 AM|
I was moved to tears this morning. We were reading Galatians 4:1-7 as recommended by REJOICE!, our daily devotional magazine. It talks about the laws that the Jewish people followed thinking that could save them. (We too are apt to follow and try to do those things that we think will earn us points with God. A flash-back reminded me of a time in my life when I was bound by that ritual.)
“But when the right time came, the time God decided on,” says verse 4, “he sent his Son, born of a woman, born as a Jew, to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so he could adopt us as his very own sons.” (My heart leapt in gladness and glowed with warmth at God’s mercy.)
The scripture continues in verse 6, “And because we are his sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, so now we can rightly speak of God as our dear Father.” Wow! If that isn’t grace, I don’t know what is! My heart was already full of gratitude, saying “Oh my Father, my dear Father!”
Then I read Leonard Beechy’s comments on the scripture. He described Rembrandt’s painting The Return of the Prodigal Son, which captures the moment the son throws himself on his father’s mercy and is ready to tell him he is no longer worthy to be called his son, but the father is so caught up in finally having his son back, his eyes shut, holding his son closely to his heart. Beechy says the father is “completely absorbed in the embrace of his precious son.”
That moved my heart too, but the next sentence really got to me. “We too are inclined to approach God with our failings and frailties as though we were slaves ready to scrape, beg, and bargain.” That’s when tears sprang to my eyes and choked me up so I could hardly continue reading.
Yes, God has asked us to confess our sins to keep our lives clear of debris and to free us to live victorious and able to serve with joy. How often, though, when I confess a failure in my life, do I remember all those other times I have failed or done wrong, and I wonder if God isn’t tired of hearing me come again, with my dysfunction and yet another confession. I can’t believe that God wouldn’t remember all those times. But Beechy says, “God will have none of it. Before we can even begin, God gathers us into loving arms, receiving us completely and joyfully. Each time we come, God has prepared for the meeting.”
I too often forget that Jesus came, lived, died and rose again so that I can be cleansed from “all unrighteousness.” My human mind can’t conceive the fact that if I confess my sin, it is wiped away. God can no longer see it. He sees only the blood-washed me; the cleansed and made pure me. He sees me only as his beloved child, his heart glad that I’ve come once more into his embrace. Beechy says, “In the eternal Now of the fullness of time, you come into God’s presence as nothing less than God’s beloved child, eternally welcomed, eternally embraced.”
At this time of year, when we remember Jesus’ coming to earth as a babe in a lowly manger, if we stop in our busy, frantic rush, we can see all that he gave up to live as a human among humans. We need to remember the purpose for which he came. To forget that, is like ignoring a precious gift someone has given us—forgetting to open it, or opening it and setting it aside, never thanking the giver. It’s an open affront to a gracious giver.
Rather, let us bring joy to a loving Father, coming into his open arms and leaning against his breast. Let us come home to that eternal welcome and embrace and soak up the love he’s so ready to give us. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!