Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our Happily Ever After

In a previous post, I shared one of the messages I walked away with from my weekend at the Harvey Cedars Bible Conference, where our speaker was Young Life leader and author Ned Erickson

Ned helped me to see a broader application for Jesus’ meeting with the rich young man, as recorded in Mark 10:17-22. 
It isn’t just a love of money that can keep us from submitting our hearts and lives to Jesus.  It isn’t just a human tendency to want to earn our own salvation through our works so that we can boast about what we have attained that keeps us from accepting God’ grace.  Rather, we can limit our experience of Jesus in our lives, limit our ability to know and love him, limit our access to the love and abundance that he offers to us, because of our unwillingness to be vulnerable with him. 

When we refuse to tear down the carefully-constructed walls that keep the world thinking that we are good and our lives are perfect and we have everything under control, then we block out Jesus, who looks at us, and sees our heart, and LOVES us.
In addition to shedding a new light on this particular gospel account, Ned also provided a new way of considering the Sabbath rest.
Many people trace the practice of resting on the Sabbath to God’s act of creation, as recorded in the Book of Genesis.  God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them in six days, and on the seventh day he rested because there was nothing left for Him to do.  His work was finished. 
Where do we hear the echo of these words?  From the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished,” at the time of his death, because he had done everything that needed to be done in order for us to enter into the Promised Land.  With his death, the payment of the penalty for our sins, Jesus made a way for us.  Jesus IS the way for us!

Since, then, a Sabbath is a rest, a time when our work is done, Christ has created a Sabbath-rest for us that lasts seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.  We are called to rest from the work of trying to save ourselves, because Christ has finished the work for us. 
Ned used a couple different analogies to underscore this point.  First, he compared it to a football game we’ve already won.  We already know the score.  We already know we have the victory.  We just have to play the game, all four quarters, to experience all that God has planned for us.
Further, he compared it to a novel, saying that our lives are an epic romance, in which we are going to “get the guy” in the end and live happily ever after.  That is the promise we find in scripture.  Ours is a redemption story:  we are going to be redeemed in the end, and our story of redemption is part of a larger story in which Christ will return and make all things new.
Flip to the end of the story!  The Bible tells us that when we walk with Christ, when we accept the invitation that the rich young man refused, our storyline clearly ends with the words, “And they lived happily ever after”!
Ned shared a biblical illustration of this truth, beyond the sports and literary metaphors.  In the Book of Joshua, chapter 1, God promises to give Joshua every place across the Jordan River where he sets his foot. “Your territory,” God tells Joshua, “will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west” (Joshua 1:4).  God promises to give him everywhere he steps by faith.
But there is work to be done—walls to break down and giants to slay.  The Promised Land is already theirs.  The last line of their story was already written, just as the last line of our story is already written:  “And they lived happily ever after.”
Our future is certain, which opens up possibilities for our present.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).  Our work is not to save ourselves; it is to lay claim—like Joshua and the Hebrew people—to all that God has promised us.  God gives us everything He has—His infinite grace.  We are only limited by our acceptance of it. 
How much of what God has for us to experience are we willing to accept?  If we refuse to be limited by what has happened in our past and by our fears for the future, then we can meet Jesus where he waits for us—in our present, where we are NOW—and live where we are meant to live, walking with Jesus toward our promised “happily ever after.”

1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...