I probably don't need to tell most of you that life isn't easy. That it is a challenge. That it is hard and that it hurts. But still by grace we have been given a choice.
So I want to ask you: how are you going to live the next part of eternity?
Broken down and giving up or rising up and trusting God?
Right now, where you are may seem so long and hard and overwhelming, but I just want to remind you that it's just one part of eternity. It's just one next in a long series until we begin the next part of eternity in the presence of God, or apart from God if we didn't want His love.
In Matthew 9:1-8, we read the story that took place in Jesus' home town. Here's a picture of Jesus, on the road, out in life, going after people and revealing the love of The Father in His own life in the power of an unseen Spirit in a way that changed everything!
Jesus stepped into a boat and crossed over and came to His own home town. Some men brought him a paralytic lying on a mat, and when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic something unexpected and something strange. Jesus said, "Take heart son, your sins are forgiven…" then He said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home!" And the man got up and he went home. No longer stuck in dead religion, no longer stuck in the realities of life, now the Kingdom of God had come and now the unpredictability of the love of God was let loose on planet earth - and everything changed!
What if, more than we need everything that is frustrating us in this moment. What if, not having them is what depresses us and discourages us?
What if we just needed to celebrate our forgiveness and from this point forward, just live joyfully toward home knowing that this earth isn't it?
What if we trusted that God is giving us, from His goodness, all that we need and that we can live joyfully on our way home?
We've basically got a choice, we can follow sin: Sin means that we're all deeply broken like the layers of an onion at successive and concentric ways. We're all deeply broken all the way to the core of our being. It's all fractured, it's all broken, it's all leaking life! And you and I can live our lives in ever-increasing sin and brokenness to where the darkness continues to increase and the sadness is growing and the loss is adding up for the rest of this part of eternity - or we can follow forgiveness all the way home to joy!
You see, that's what Jesus did.
We just celebrated Easter, and the scripture gives us an insight into what Jesus was thinking every step of the way. With every blow to His jaw, every time the whip was laid on His back...and every time the hammer drove the nails in...the scripture tells us what was on Jesus' mind. The scripture tells us in Hebrews 12:2, "Let us look to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross scorning it's shame." He was heading home and in spite of that agony of the moment, He trusted God and lived courageously toward joy!
You and I need to live courageously grateful for the forgiveness of our sins, and if nothing ever happens in our life that we call good, we have the gift of the forgiveness of everything that leaks life, that tears us apart and destroys us in this part of eternity! We're coming to a part of eternity where there is going to be joy, if we will have it. But in this part of eternity where we're still on the ground and where it's hard, we are called by God to live courageously grateful for the gift that matters more than all the other stuff that we demand from God and put before it, and it's all found in this one phrase, "Take heart my child, your sins are forgiven."
Despite what you believe, God does not have a bad attitude toward you. No, He says, "Take heart my child your sins are forgiven." -Matthew 9:2 (Take heart- The Greek word here means to have confidence and firmness of purpose in the face of adversity or testing.)
I want you to imagine the man paralyzed in Matthew. His day began bad like every other day...but in the presence of the freedom of Jesus, everything changed. I want you to follow my forgiveness in a way that transforms your sorrow into joy and I want you to live gratefully from this point forward and be courageous so take heart my son get up off of the broken place where you are and walk home!
Can you imagine the joy his parents felt? Guys, that's you and that's me!
How many of us are laying on the ground and letting life pass us by? You don't have to hate yourself - you're free! We gotta make a decision. We gotta ask for forgiveness and until that day we gotta head home healed and live courageously. This is the life that we are invited to - accept forgiveness and live courageously toward joy! -Dr. Drew Shofner