Hurry, you’re running out of time!

I’ve been reading through the Bible in a year, backwards. It’s been a pretty good experience so far. I have probably only read through the prophets in the Old Testament once or twice before when I was very young and I have no memory of them. I have heard sermons on various sections over the years, have read different chapters occasionally, but I don’t have a good understanding of them. So it’s been good to read through them again. 

 I just finished reading the book of Jeremiah. I have to admit it was pretty heavy going in many chapters. I kind of felt like I had to wade through the doom and gloom before I could move on and read my Psalm and Proverb and chapter from the New Testament. But as I reached the end of the book I noticed a theme that got me thinking. And pondering. And praising. 

Throughout the whole book God is having his prophet tell his people that judgement is coming. And he lists all the reasons that they deserve judgement. They have turned from their God. They have embraced idols and all the sin that goes along with the worship of idols, including sacrificing their children in the fires. They have continually refused to listen to God’s prophets. The wealthy and ruling peoples treat the poor unfairly and harshly. They have been given multiple opportunities to repent and return to God, and they won’t. So finally, judgement is coming. 

God tells them what the judgement is going to be, but even as he berates them and tells them why they’re about to be judged, he keeps calling for them to repent. If you will just turn from these wicked ways, come back to me, I will forgive you. And they don’t. And the judgement gets closer and closer and God keeps telling them, you’re running out of time, judgement is coming. Repent. And they don’t. 

And then the judgement arrives in the form of a conquering nation and even then God says, look, turn yourselves over to your enemies and then at least you will live and one day I will restore you. And some people listen, but many don’t. And the conquering nation is there and they are trying to fight back and God keeps giving them one more chance. Just turn yourselves over and you’ll escape with your life. And they still don’t listen. 

When I first started reading it felt like a book about judgement. Punishment. Harshness. Anger. But as I finished it I walked away feeling like I had just read about everlasting mercy. Enduring love. God saying, ok, the consequences for your actions are finally coming on you. But look, there’s still hope. I can still fix this. Come back to me and I can help you make it right. 

Over and over again God sent Jeremiah to warn his people. Stop! Don’t you see death is on the horizon! Come back to me while you still can! And Jeremiah became very unpopular. People got tired of hearing the same gloomy message. They had other prophets, false prophets, who were telling them all kinds of happy things, like God loves you and he’s going to make your nation prosper! Forget about the fact that you are no longer following any of God’s laws and mandates. Forget about the fact that you have adopted all kinds of other gods. God still loves you! He wants you to be happy! Those were much nicer prophecies than what Jeremiah was giving them. 

But God loves his people, and he gave them a way back to him all the way up to the very end. His mercy is everlasting. 

It gives me hope. I read the book of Revelation and it feels scary. Judgement. Chaos. Punishment. But God never changes. I believe he will be offering his love and his salvation all the way to the bitter end. Because he doesn’t want us to die. He wants us to come to him. Judgement is a result of our sin, a consequence. It is inevitable. But he sent Jesus to take that punishment for us. And if we turn to him, we will be saved. But we have to turn. We have to stop listening to the false prophets who tell us God would never punish anyone. Hell isn’t real. God just wants everyone to be happy. And instead listen to his very urgent message. You have sinned. Your sin will be punished. Soon. Quick. Repent of your sin, turn to me, and I will save you. 

Hurry. You’re running out of time. 

Daily Battles

“Are we holding on to, or are we held? Are we approaching or are we inside? Is it finished or in process?

I am talking about our position in Christ, because what we believe makes all the difference right now.” 

Sarah Howe

I read these words the other day on a friend’s Facebook. And I found myself almost arguing out loud. Yes. My brain knows that I am held, I am on the inside, the work is finished. I know this with my brain. But, my heart, it still struggles. My emotions still struggle. My sense of security still struggles. 

This morning I was dropping my son off at school. I got a text right as we pulled into the parking lot. I was concerned about answering it, so when I pulled to a stop I quickly grabbed my phone, sent a rushed response, hit send, then looked up. My son had already exited the car and was walking away, it was time to pull out of the parking lot. I forgot to say “Goodbye, I love you, Have a good day!” And I drove away feeling like a failure. Not a good enough mom. 

It also didn’t help that I started off the day with an unpleasant surprise which then made me snap at my husband and start his day off on the wrong foot. Failure. Not a good enough wife. Can’t start the day cheerfully and help everyone else start the day cheerfully. 

And then it just avalanched. Everything I did was put under the filter of Not-Good-Enough and I ended up just sitting here, feeling like a complete failure. There’s no way that God loves me. Or anyone else for that matter. Unworthy. 

It occurs to me again that life is a battle. And I am my own worst enemy. My flesh. The part of me that says, I’d rather just sit here and eat snacks than get up and exercise. The part of me that says, I’m in a bad mood so I have a right to be harsh and snappy with people. The part of me that feels affronted when I have to deal with any kind of hardship or inconvenience, and then I take that out on everyone else with complaining and acting like everyone owes me something. And then, the part of me that feels less-than, unwanted, unworthy. 

As I sit here, wallowing, I remember Paul’s exhortation, 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:10-11

The rest of of that chapter talks about the different parts of the armor of God. I think about the belt of truth buckled around my waist. God is on his throne. Jesus came to save us. I have been chosen by God. I am loved. I think about the breastplate of righteousness. It’s not my goodness that saves me, it’s Jesus’ work on the cross. His righteousness, his goodness, covers me. I think about the helmet of salvation. I am saved! Nothing can separate me from God’s love. I pick up the sword of the spirit, read God’s word. I pick up the shield of faith, I believe what I have read. I strap on the Gospel of peace to my feet, ready to tell the world again, that my God is good, my God saves, he is Love. 

And once again, the day’s battle is won. My brain reminds my heart, my emotions: You are held. You are inside. The work is finished. Go in peace. 

I hit the refresh button on the day. And I start again.