Monday, March 2, 2020

Pardoned While Powerless

I have often marveled that Jesus comes to me at those times when my options have run out.  This may be because I tend to look for Him when I have no other options ... my bad!  It also might be because I am too often self sufficient (a lie I tell myself) and too seldom not God-sufficient.  In either case, I am resolving that this year's Lent will be a time when I rely on God and seek him, even when I feel particularly powerless.

Fact is, I am often quite powerless over the things going on.  I can wash my hands, refrain from touching my face, and take hygiene-related precautions, but I can do little else about the coronavirus.  I can turn off the TV when political ads invade my privacy, but I can't stop the candidates from using disgusting tactics in their campaigns.  In all of these things I feel powerless.  But there is a person in Scripture who was so much more powerless!

In Luke 23:43, Jesus hangs on a cross between two criminals.  One of them (verse 39) insulted Jesus and shouted "save yourself and us."  The other said, (verse 42) "remember me when you come into your kingdom."  Both were powerless, far beyond my lack of power and influence.  They were about to die, and were in the process of dying a horrible death.  They had lost all rights, all dignity and almost all hope.  They were powerless.  What can we learn from them?

First, we can realize that we are powerless just like them.  We can make good choices.  We can take every precaution.  We can go to church, read our Bible and say all the cliches.'  But we cannot save ourselves.  Only one has the power (Matthew 10:28) to cast eternal souls into hell.  And only one has the power to save!  The second criminal understood his hopelessness.

Second, we can reach out to one who has power.  When death is at the door, our options are played-out.  We can't write a check or throw a hail-Mary.  We can only pray, seek and trust.  Last week we prayed for a little baby named Lydia.  She had bacterial meningitis, and the lab tests said the infection had entered her blood stream.  All of us were powerless, but we prayerfully reached out to the one who could do something.  None of us know why, but her results, her health and her life changed in a positive direction.  The second criminal did something that was redemptive ... he sought Jesus in his time of powerlessness.  "Remember me when you come into Your kingdom!"  He sought the only one who could save him!

Finally, we can rest in Jesus to take us the rest of the way, whatever that is.  Jesus responds to the criminal, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)."  That is really all any of us ever need for living life ... Jesus.  My eyes fix on two parts of this verse that give me great comfort.  The first is "truth."  At death (and really anytime) truth is a great thing.  John 8:32 says ... "the truth will set you free."  In a life of bondage to many things, this criminal is set free because of God's truth.  He is free from his sins, free from his earthly shell, free from his past and free from all of his struggles.  He is "resting" in God's truth.  And he is "with Jesus."  That is truly enough.  I can get caught up in so many things.  In this election year we will be told all manners of junk.  National and international crises will threaten our sanity and our security.  But we don't need to be blown about by every wind of fate ... though we are powerless over most of it.  We can rest in Jesus and live with Jesus.  And even if our very lives hangs in the balance, that is enough.  And that's the truth!  Randy

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