Our choices often have a way of catching up with us. I know that they certainly did for us. For five years we lived beyond our means; borrowing and topping-up our borrowing whenever something went wrong, or there was quite simply, just something that we wanted and wanted now. But after five years all those choices caught up with us and we had to face the consequences.
In Isaiah 30, God told the Israelites that their sin was like a crack that makes the high wall quickly crumble and shatter. Well, this was us, the cracks in the walls - our sins - brought life as we knew it crumbling down. Everything changed and with our first child in tow, we moved in under my parents to begin the task of rebuilding.
It's been a long and humbling journey living with the consequences of the choices we made. But it has also been a journey marked by God's rich mercies and grace. Because here's the thing that I've learnt - no matter how far we fall, or how far off-track we wander, God is always for us.
In spite of their sin, God had offered the Israelites His help, but they had chosen instead to look to Egypt for protection saying, "No, we will flee on horses... we will ride off on swift horses." But even after they had run off on their swift horses, God's heart was still for them. He still longed to bless His people.
And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favour, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!
And even when we've raced off pursuing our own strategies and agendas, His heart is still for us. In spite of all our failings, He waits for - actually looks for - opportunities to show us His goodness and to be gracious to us. The Father lifts Himself up to show us mercy - to spare us from what we deserve - and in the ultimate expression of His loving kindness, John 3 tells us that He allowed His own son Jesus, to be lifted up on the Cross in order to show us the depths of that love; in order to spare us the punishment that our sins - all these cracks in the wall - really deserve.
We might have to live with consequences but we no longer have to live with condemnation.
Condemnation is a damnatory sentence, an expression of disapproval, the action of condemning someone to punishment. It sounds heavy doesn't it - and if you've ever allowed yourself to come under condemnation then you'll know first-hand just how weighty it is. Condemnation coats us with shame; it taunts us with failure and it lies about our identity - breeding despair and robbing us of hope for the future.
Walking out the consequences of our sins has been much longer than the five years it took to get there and there have been moments that I have wrestled to break free from the clutches of condemnation. But I have learnt that I must bring myself back to the truth that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We have been set free from carrying this weight because of Jesus' extravagant love on the Cross. We have been set free to live by His Spirit. We have been set free to know His victory, His favour, His love, His peace, His joy and His matchless, unbroken companionship!
We are not our pasts. We are not our mistakes. We are His beloved children whom He has redeemed. And He is now in the process of restoring our lives back to the glory that He intended - of rebuilding our broken walls.
Whatever cracks have caused your walls to come crashing down, know this: despite the consequences, He does not condemn you. You are still loved and in His unfathomable grace He will help you to rebuild what has been cracked and broken.
Live today with purpose,.
This blog was adapted from The Power of Quiet devotional reading plan - you'll find it for free here.
One of my girls LOVES the mall – so much so that she often tells me she wishes that was where we lived! The moment she has managed to accumulate even just a couple of dollars she's begging to go to the mall and spend her money. I find myself constantly reminding her that if we go now, if she spends now, then she is delaying being able to get what she really wants. She's learning that she must determine what matters and plan accordingly, because money, like any other resource, is finite and requires stewarding and prioritising. It cannot be endlessly stretched, and neither can our time.
I like to say yes. But I know that I just can’t say yes to all the requests and opportunities that come my way – no matter how good they are! Opportunities to volunteer, after-school activities for the kids, social invites, more ministry-hats that I could wear, alongside the day-to-day ‘to-do’ list of shopping, laundry, cooking and so on – the things that I could say yes to are endless! And every ‘yes’ spends my time.
For the past two years, God has been challenging me about how I allocate my time; forcing me to realise that ‘every time I say yes, there is less of me for something else'; requiring me to evaluate is my ‘yes’ worth the less. This season of re-evaluating how I spend my time has meant learning to say no – not just to people, but also to some of my own desires. Like right now, I really want to zone out and watch one of my favourite shows, but I know that that means I won’t have time to write. Writing is a God-priority for me in this season - and saying ‘yes’ to it requires that I say ‘no’ to some of the other things that I’d like to do!
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that ‘no’ is a negative word – that it is shutting off opportunities, denying ourselves pleasure, closing doors and causing us to disappoint and offend people. But I am increasingly understanding that when I say no, I am really saying ‘yes’ to something that I have determined is more important at that point in time. And while this may disappoint and even offend some, it ensures that I have the resources for what I do say yes to. My ‘no’ is really a ‘yes’ to what God has called me to do.
In Luke 2:42-44, Jesus models this for us:
At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
Jesus had been busy healing the sick and setting people free in the town of Capernaum. He had been doing a good thing, a great thing actually! He knew the time had come to move on to another town, but the people still had needs, so they understandably wanted Him to stay put. But Jesus was mindful of what God had sent Him to do – and that was to proclaim and demonstrate the good news in more than one place, so He tells them no. I have no doubt that His no disappointed the people! But if he had said yes to staying, He would have been saying no to God. His yes would have meant so much less for the people whom God intended to hear the good news of His love!
Let’s learn from Jesus and spend our time well by investing it in the people and priorities that God has for us in our current season. Learn to recognise that when you say no – be it to a little thing like watching your favourite TV show, or something that matters much, much more – that you are really saying yes, yes to the plans and purposes that God has for you. And that is a yes, that you will never regret!
Live today with purpose,
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from the blogging team encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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