I have shared this before but in a world where folks are loosing hope it is a timely reminder of what God can do. Guys like Peter and Paul in the Scriptures give me the hope that those who are religious in their theological perspectives can, not only be used by the Lord but, that they can change their perspectives radically. You remember the story when Peter had to go with a bunch of Gentiles to the house of Cornelius. He must have been totally freaked out! Good religious Jews especially Apostles didn’t roll with gentiles. They were considered to be fodder for the fires of hell. (I have been on both ends of this perspective. I have felt that way about others because of my own religious pride and have also been on the receiving end of non-relational religious theology). The Good news is that Jesus loves the religious and the sinner alike! He sacrificed Himself for all of us. The sinner, the hypocrite, the religious, and the broken hearted too! Paul exhibited all of these attributes and Jesus not only revealed Himself to him but also showed His love and forgiveness to him, radically opening Pauls’ eyes.
Why are you sharing this you ask?
Four years ago I had reached a pinnacle of pride, religiosity, and hidden sin in my life. Life wasn’t going well at all! Besides the sin and spiritual issues, bankruptcy, a wife with cancer, being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and experiencing chronic pain. Pride kept the issues hidden deep and suffice it to say, as I sat in my pickup in the in the middle of the Oregon Desert, for the second time in six months I contemplated ending my own life. At the time it made perfect sense. No one knew where I was and at that point I had believed a lie that nobody cared. It was very cold in the truck that night. On many occasions I had accidentally dropped my firearm out of my backpack into the dirt. Needless to say, it wouldn’t even function and I began to complain to the Lord that even my firearm was useless! Seems silly, I know but He heard me! I remember it as if was a cannon going off! “Get back to your Roots John.” And that was all. In that moment, I began to contemplate my return trip. I was on empty and 40 miles from a 1-pump town, knowing I had not intended on returning. I turned the key on, slipped my foot out of the sleeping bag and drove all of those miles to a town called Bonanza. As I pulled into the station I felt like Hoss Cartwright with a new since of purpose. Those 40 miles running on faith was just the beginning of what the Lord would do in the years to come. I realized that my depravity and sin was trying to kill me and that the Lord was not finished with me yet, even in my weakest moments. The next Sunday we returned to what we call our roots! It was a church in the middle of Podunk Oregon where I had originally learned that it was just Jesus that I was longing for. We walked through those doors late that morning, found the only seats in the building on the front row and as we sang, “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name” He met me there in such a way that I have never experienced. God was opening my eyes, scales of sin were being removed, I could not speak and I could not sing. As I stood there weeping He began a new work in my life that has radically changed this man. The sin is gone! The issues of chronic pain our gone; He has restored my marriage, and has set my feet upon a rock! There is hope, there is mercy, and there is grace and forgiveness for all at the Foot of the Cross! Nobody can take it from you or keep you from enjoying it every day.
There was a guy that died that day in the Eastern Oregon Desert! There is another one that lived!