I had several strange dreams a few night ago, but one in particular woke me up. I was standing next to this huge screen, using my hand to scroll through meaningless memes, not really paying attention to any of them, but one caught my eye and startled me so much I woke up. It said, “RESTART THE BLOG.”
I haven’t written anything for this blog in a long time for several reasons. The first being that my computer quit cooperating about six months ago and I haven’t had one to use for blogging. That might have been God protecting me from blogging during a very tumultuous time in my life, though. I’ve learned a lot in the past six months, but I find it’s always best to stay quiet while learning (and unlearning) things because sometimes, the drivel you must wade through to make sense of it all needs to stay between you and God. I also needed that time to wrap up two very special books I was working on, and I could not have expended energy on any other writing endeavor and finished them.
I woke up with the words RESTART THE BLOG imprinted on my heart and my mind, and I started to pray. I want to start blogging again, but I have some hesitations. I finished those books about a month ago, and I’ve spent the time afterward completely distracting myself from any kind of meaningful work. Netflix and I have become close. To give you an idea, I am nursing a dislocated hip and spend a lot of time lying around resting it, and most of that time, I’m watching “Cheers.”
I began to pray this morning, “Lord, I feel so far from you. So far from where I’ve been and want to be. I can’t imagine restarting the blog with this chasm between us. I need you next to me, whispering your truth into my ears. This isn’t my blog, it’s your blog. I want you doing your things through me.”
As I prayed, I envisioned a man wrapping his clothing around his tanned body and jumping off a boat into the sea. I recognized that man. It was Peter, and this story is in John 21. After Jesus’ death, Peter was a mess. He had denied knowing Christ at the hour of Jesus’ greatest need for a friend. Peter thought he was infallible. “Even if all fall away, I will never fall away.” Jesus assured him that he would, and later that night, he did. Three times, he denied knowing who Jesus was. The third time, as the rooster crowed, scripture says that Jesus looked up at Peter. I can only imagine their eyes met and Jesus acknowledged what Peter had done. He went away and wept violently.”
You can imagine his despair. His best friend was about to be killed and Peter didn’t have the courage to even admit they knew one another. In his heart at that moment, he probably felt that he would never have the opportunity to make things right with Jesus. The crowd was urging him on toward execution and Peter had run away in grief.
This all felt so real to me this morning as I examined where I was (or thought I was) before I denied Christ with my life. You probably think that’s a stretch, right? I mean, watching endless hours of TV is surely forgivable. But that’s not all. No, it’s just the surface of things. Remember, I used the word “tumultuous.” I am not prone to throwing words around frivolously. I am also not going to throw around family crises frivolously either. I may get super personal at some point in the future if Christ compels me to, but let’s just say that it’s always darkest right before dawn, and as the publication of these books drew nearer, the necessity for my kids to hear the message showed itself intensely. There were some moments, my flesh awakened in frustration, anger and pain. I shattered my witness in front of my kids many times. I even stepped down from my youth leadership position because my house was not in order. After having come so far in Christ, it surprised and horrified me to know there was so much more of my flesh still living.
The shame became a barrier to approaching the Lord. I didn’t even try after a while because I was so hurt and ashamed of myself. To wake up this morning and find Jesus was reaching out to me through that dream was such a delightful relief. I began to pray and lay all this on him. The shame, embarrassment, and feelings of failure. Like Peter, I braved the stormy sea to get past the barrier to sit at His feet again. And once there, I did not flinch under his reproach. I melted into his forgiving arms. All that time, during all the many failures over the past few months, Jesus was loving me. Not my sin. Me. He was waiting for me.
First John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” First John 1:9 continues, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I’m not bragging about my shortcomings here. I am mortified to admit them. But I love telling people about the freedom that comes in knowing Christ. Not just the eternity kind of freedom, but the everyday freedom from bondage because of our humanity. Don’t forget that Jesus told Peter about his denials before they happened. He knows we fall short sometimes. He knows we aren’t perfect. That’s why he lived a pure life we could never live and died a death we could never endure.
I shared all this because the chasm is real and so many people are standing on the far side of it staring into the eyes of Jesus, but unable or unwilling to fling themselves toward him because they are afraid they won’t find Him waiting in love on the other side. Their sin terrifies them. Satan whispers to keep them bound. John 8:36 assures us that, “ … if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Romans 8:1 tells us “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Those who are in Christ do not take their sin lightly. That’s how we know we are His. Our sin separates us from the One we love so dear. But it shouldn’t keep us from Him. He died to have us for eternity. He was forsaken so that we would never be. Even Paul mourned his propensity to rebel against the Spirit of God inside of him (Romans 7). Thank God, there is freedom in forgiveness!