Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
This past Sunday we had to take our puppy, Buddy, to the emergency animal hospital. He’s on the mend and completely fine; but on Saturday night he was severely limping and a bit lethargic. He certainly wasn’t himself. He didn't immediately run over and jump on me when I walked in the door after church, and he had no interest in eating or playing. Most pet owners have had experiences like this. It’s tough when you know something is wrong but don’t have the ability to figure out what hurts or how it happened. It is relatively similar to those early parenting years with a newborn or infant child. You can see the tears and hear the cries, but there is an obvious barrier that prevents us from immediately identifying and fixing the problem. There were times when Buddy would look at me with his head hung and sad puppy eyes. What a helpless feeling!
Almost two weeks after Easter, we are reminded that this was Gods way of healing His wayward children. Children who had become inerrantly sick and spiritually lethargic. Children who couldn’t save themselves. And, worse yet, really had no idea that their situation was so dire and damning. Easter finishes the healing begun for us on Good Friday. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes, we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) God breaks through the barrier between the holy and sinful, the Creator and the creation to bestow healing to the helpless. Thankfully and wonderfully, the ailment and plight of His people was never a mystery to the Heavenly Father. God knew the problem; and He knew the solution. In fact, He was the solution. Help was on the way. In the death of Jesus our sickness was diagnosed, and the prescription was written in His unblemished blood. The nails of the cross acted as a scalp carving out the lingering effects of sin. The empty tomb of Easter was our bill of clean health. It was our declaration that we were no longer tethered to the destructive curse of sin. “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” (Romans 5:8, NLT) Indeed, my friends, we are made new. We are healed.
It has been good to see my dog’s tail wagging again. It is good to see the pep in his step and the energy in his face. He wants to play; he wants to run. How about you? Is your tail wagging? Have you rejoiced in the fact that we are Easter people who have been rescued from all that ailed us? The eggs have all been found, the chocolate has all been eaten, and the lilies are starting to lose their flowers... Yet we still rejoice with the psalmist, "Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion." (Psalms 103:2-4) Fellow redeemed—may the hope and healing of Easter continue to put a song in your heart and a smile on your face. Alleluia, Christ is risen!
“All our infirmities, whatever they are, are just opportunities for God to display his gracious work in us.”
(Charles H. Spurgeon)
“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”
On Monday afternoon and again Tuesday afternoon, we had water pouring out of our basement ceiling. Paint peeling. Drywall flaking. Puddles forming. Never a good thing, but fortunately this is a slow week for me. ;-)
The first plumber stopped in, and after taking a reciprocating saw to my damp ceiling, could not find any evidence of water leakage or plumbing issues. Hmmm. Clearly there was a problem, we just couldn’t find the cause of it. But nonetheless, to add to the waterlogged basement, I now had a hole in my wallet and an even bigger one cut out of my ceiling. Long story short, after another visit from the plumbing company, we were able to finally pinpoint the problem as a defective dishwasher. In some sense, this is good news. It could have definitely been worse. Thankfully, all of the plumbing and waterlines in the house are fine. The HVAC is not leaking or overly sweating. The drywall damage is minimal. Cleanup was not too burdensome. However, at this point, we have an unusable dishwasher that spews out as much water as Old Faithful Geyser. The still, somewhat new appliance was deemed “damaged, defective, and needs to be replaced.” Even though we’ve only been in the house for just over two years, any helpful warranty has seemingly expired. Not that it matters. The builders blame GE and GE blames the builders. How incredulously convenient for them. So, forget about the chocolate bunnies or plastic Easter eggs, apparently this weekend we will be on the hunt for a new dishwasher. Again, there is a teachable moment in all things… especially during Holy Week.
Tonight and tomorrow night, we will be remembering and contemplating the sufferings and sacrifice of Jesus. Lest we forget why this all had to take place, the scriptures pinpoint the problem—SIN. From the moment Adam and Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit, our world has been submerged with corruption, anguish, and death. All these things and all our heartaches are just symptoms to a deeper, hidden evil. God graciously surveys the irreparable damage brought about by the deception of the devil and our own unfaithfulness. He looks around at a fallen world—flooded with pain, saturated in sin, and dripping with despair. He pinpoints the root cause of the issue—SIN. Sin has rendered us all defective. We are far beyond self-repair. There aren't enough YouTube videos in the world that will resolve our unenviable plight. Sin has separated us from God, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2). Sadly and emphatically, we are unable to save ourselves. And we cannot pass the blame. There is no use even trying. We have all fallen; we all stand short of God's glory and expectations. Thus the Lord steps down from His throne, rolls up His sleeves, and gets to work. No flashlight in hand, His tools are not wrenches or screwdrivers. Instead, He works with nails and spear, a crown of thorns and a wooden cross. Wonderfully, after His diagnostics are logged regarding His fallen, yet still beloved, children, our Heavenly Father graciously goes about fixing the problem, “…But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
What we celebrate during Holy Week is that our Savior goes to work to piece back the broken relationship we had with the Father. Afterall, everything that He endured, all that He suffered was really not His problem to deal with. He was holy; He was sinless. It was our problem. But Jesus took our place; and we are better for it. More than better, we are redeemed. We are fixed. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) We are healed. By His cross, Jesus stops the damning drip of sin. He patches the brokenness. He cleans up the mess. And most wonderfully, He then takes care of the bill. There is no cost to us. The message of Easter declares that we no longer have sin weighing us down and destroying. The problem has been remedied and the cost has been covered.
I implore you to come and worship with us (7pm each night) or elsewhere. Don’t skip these Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services; they set the stage for the celebratory shouts of Easter. After all, we cannot truly appreciate the redemptive handiwork of God, unless we rightly, and humbly stare into the depths of the sin that entangled us. The cross indeed shows us our sin, but it also beautifully declares the fixing-power of His grace.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“We are all broken images of God, but Jesus can fix us; that’s what He does.” (N.J. Heikkinen)
Pastor Steve Vera