Poppies and Peonies
This morning as I rode into the morning light I gazed into the increasing clouds. There were high stratus and cirrus with a single crossways stripe near the tops. It caused me to pause as it was a little discordant or seeming inappropriate in the otherwise gorgeous pink and yellow dawn colors with the healing blue background. It reminded me of the tare in the garden or the tear in the in the fabric. It also brought to clarity in equally broken rip that is sin in my life. Yes, I may be a child of the Most High God, but I am still a sinner saved by His grace. I am reminded of the Apostle John’s very clear teaching:
“God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him but walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us of all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:5-9).
I do not, as hard as I try, always walk in the light. Yet, God is faithful to forgive and wash me when I confess and repent of my trespasses against Him and others.
The Apostle Paul was a man changed dramatically by Christ into a new man as we both had Damascus Road experiences. He wrote in Romans 7, “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is the sin living in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have a desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is the sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7:17-21).
So it is with me. I confess and repent and even make vows to abstain from things, but fail. I am frustrated like Paul who wrote 40% of the New Testament or King David who sinned and the whole world knew and now know about it. But he was the only man in all of Scripture of whom it was said, “He was a man after God’s own heart, he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts13:22). I am always thankful for these models that were indeed not always paragons of virtue but of broken and contrite hearts. I praise God for His mercy and grace to forgive us our sins and cleanse or purify us of our darkness.
Life is very daily as the Serenity Prayer of AA reminds us. We need the serenity, courage and wisdom of God to live in repentance and grace. God wants us to live one day at a time; being in every moment, knowing that hardship is the pathway to peace.
Now God has said, let your yes be yes, and your no, no, when you vow. In other words, don’t do it if you don’t mean it. But know that it is only God in you the hope of glory that gives you the strength to live in godliness and righteousness. It is the Holy Spirit within the believer who counsels, convinces, comforts and convicts us of our sins and how to walk in His way. Life this side of heaven is full of hardship, trials and temptation. I am so glad that God also gave Paul the teaching of 1 Corinthians 10:13 saying, “No temptation has seized you that is not common to man, but God is faithful and when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out (through) so that you can stand up under it.” I like to read different versions of Scripture that might take a little twist on an admonition like this. The Message is a paraphrase by Eugene Peterson with another hopeful thought on this verse, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” He will always be there to help get you through or to endure is a promise stated throughout Scripture.
So today I am hopeful that I can live this day knowing the peace of His presence and as Nehemiah the great leader said after rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, “The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).