I don’t know about you, but in New Mexico we don’t have much opportunity to drive through fog. But this morning, in the dark, surrounded by a fog bank I got to watch light take on a whole new value.
Your lights are great but they just seem to just bounce blindingly off the fog. In this situation your light is actually very isolating because your lights make it impossible to see any other structure that lacks light. In life the truth is the light. In the fog of life the light of knowing Jesus is of supreme importance. But that light isolates us from the dark of the world around because there is such contrast between white and black.
When our fellow travelers are alongside us, we can use their lights to see more effectively. Just like those who seek Jesus with us. Together we see more, travel more safely and comfortably. And we both follow Jesus who is like a car far ahead where we can barely see the taillights. But the light that we do see assures us He has walked our road – it is possible. So we keep our eyes on those taillights and keeping moving forward.
But in the fog, even the lights coming from the opposite direction are welcome. Their lights show us exactly how far we can see. The same in life. When we see someone hurtling down the absolutely wrong path – in addiction, religion, philosophy or X – it illuminates the difference Christ makes in our lives. It is like a backhanded compliment – it is an encouragement while at the same time grieving our hearts as a person loved by God runs from Him.
But the best lights in the fog are ones that aren’t moving like the billboards along the interstate. We all need sign posts in life that say, “This is the way – walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21) The Bible is ours – a lamp and a light.
Who knew you could learn so much in fog?
Spiked cake – that’s how Grandma ended up two hours north of home with no idea how she got there and no idea where she is.
Drugged drugs – that’s how Junior ended up with his tongue spazzing and neck uncontrollably twitching and his parents having tiny seizures of their own.
A Christmas gift – that’s how grandpa ended up hypothermic and breathing through a tube.
We all know drugs are a bad idea (though that last one is alcohol…).
Command your time.
Control your schedule.
Monopolize your money.
Demand your focus.
Drag down every decision.
And suck your emotional energy.
You have no life.
You have no spontaneity.
You have no money.
You have no fun.
You have no thoughts of your own.
You have no relationships.
You are completely one dimensional and that dimension is your drug.
So we all agree, but (at least most of us) think drugs are all “their problem”. Who among us of has not found ourselves longing to finish that book or watch that movie while at work or in church? Ever rushed away from an event just because it was time for a TV program or sports game? Who has never played on the internet only to look up and find hours gone? Who has never parroted the lines from their favorite form of entertainment? Ever decided not to go or do something with someone you loved because you were too busy on your phone?
Maybe we all have drugs. Entertainment. Food. Hobbies. Anything that vies for the place of God in our lives. Work. Family. Church. Even ministry.
Our drugs have the same characteristics as theirs do and subversively do the same things.
. . . .Maybe it’s not just their problem.
It was a Johnny Cash song I hadn’t heard before. It was catchy so I looked up the lyrics (because I like to know what I am singing about…). And that’s when I found out what Solomon and Cash have in common: They both viewed lust as a problem.
The song is about “love” as unquenchable desire – lust. It ends with the speaker falling deeper and deeper into a burning ring of fire. It is just like what Solomon said in Proverbs 6 thousands of years earlier – minus the upbeat tune. He said: Lust is bad! Don’t fall in! Don’t let her (lust) take you down and don’t think you are stronger than her. Can a man hold fire and not get burned?
Johnny Cash knew that answer was, “No.” The song ends with the singer trapped indefinitely in that fiery ring. But what do we do when find ourselves in that ring? Trapped by the desires of our eyes and heart…burning up with our own lusts and stuck….forever?
We need a Rescuer and His name is Jesus.
He lived perfectly, experiencing our temptations but never yielding to them. He took our place and our punishment before God so that we could have peace with God and no longer be slaves of sin. Jesus’ offer is to save anyone who believes in Him and to free them from sin.
No desire has to rule over us anymore. No sinful action. No wrong words. No impure thoughts. No matter how hopeless our particular addiction is or how natural our feelings. No matter if our society sanctions our lusts or despises them. No sin, no matter how strong, has no right to rule our hearts or our lives (Romans 6:14)…. if Jesus rules over us.
Those who choose to follow Jesus don’t have to serve in a burning ring of fire anymore.
And we are free indeed (John 8:36).
It’s just a little one. It sits in the corner and doesn’t cause any trouble. It’s kinda cute and pretty unobtrusive. At least that is what it says.
I like to think of mine as a puppy. Soft. Cuddly. Comfortable.
I’ve lived with it forever. I’ve taken it on outings. When it catches my ball, I smile. When it makes messes, I’ve cleaned them up. I put up with it. It’s just easier and I don’t know how my life would look without it.
But pet sins are really more like octopuses or squids or jellyfish or something else with tentacles.
Just like the fruit of Spirit all hang together, when sins infiltrate it sends shoots into everything surrounding it.
My puppy’s name is Imp. Impatience. She’s been around my whole life. But I always thought she stayed in her corner.
But she doesn’t.
She is impatient because she unkind. She is impatient because she is rough. She is impatient because she is selfish (rather than loving others) and self-pleasing.
She doesn’t speak of Jesus enough because she is in too much of a hurry. She doesn’t keep speaking of Jesus because she wants a result now. She…I am impatient.
And it’s time for a change...maybe a belated New Year's resolution.
One of my favorite sweaters is an XL, purple Eeyore sweater that says, “Positive Pessimist”. So (please) ignore the pessimist side of my personality and enjoy the positive portion!
In a couple of ways, I am not a fan New Year’s Resolutions. If you know you need to do X….why not do it now? And I have observed that resolutions are often just a knee jerk reaction to the self-indulgence of Christmastime and devoid of strength or substance to form long-standing healthy habits.
But New Year’s Resolutions also have some things on their side. It is the one time of the year where our culture invites us to be introspective, to measure our lives and decide what is really important. New Year’s resolutions scream: I have purpose! They fly in the face of a society that is sliding further and further into a nebulousness that knows nothing, has nothing to live for and nowhere to go.
New Years is the opportunity to take the initiative and press on to high calling of Jesus Christ. And unlike everything else you can put off until “tomorrow”, New Year’s resolutions have a hard start date! These resolutions begin promptly and say, “I can make a difference.” They then take it one step further and accept responsibility to live the life God has given us – for His glory.
May your New Year start with a time dedicated to prayer and reflection in the quiet and thoughtfulness found only in the presence of God our Savior – whether you make a resolution or not.
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.