Sunday, June 6, 2010

A picture of mercy

As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

- John 8: 3-11 (NLT)

As I travel this new path He has me on, I have learned so much. I have learned to begin to see myself as He sees me; through the eyes of redemption and freedom. I have learned to begin to believe in who He made me to be; a voice calling out ‘Freedom!’ and so many other facets of my heart He is showing me over time. I am also learning how much Satan hates me, how cunning he is and how well he knows his targets. We are his targets.

I think we do ourselves and the kingdom of Heaven a disservice when we do not acknowledge Satan’s hatred of us and his knowledge of us. He knows where we are vulnerable, where to hit us, how to weaken our defenses until we give in. Almost without thinking.

Isn’t it amazing how easily we give in, how little resistance we put up? I am deeply alarmed at how easily I give in, how sneaky Satan is and how pleasurable sin is.

I feel like I’ve been in a boot camp type thing for awhile. For the last eighteen months or so, He has lit me on fire. He has set me free, given me a new heart and told me who I really am. He has taken me deep into my wounds to receive His healing. He has opened my heart to His word and to people. It has been a remarkable journey, a time of preparation, training if you will. I know He is preparing me for something.

So, when He sends me out from my comfort zone in Him, my “training place”, it is as if I were on a short incursion into enemy territory. A test of my resolve, to see what I have learned, so to speak. I am reminded of the movie scene where a young Luke Skywalker is sent into a dark and cold cavern to face some thing, he knows not what. He asks the wise master Yoda, “What will I find?” Yoda’s reply, “Only what you take with you.” In Luke goes and comes face to face with his darkest fear, only to discover that he is his own worst nightmare.

How like the dark one that is. How like Satan, to prey on our weakest point! He knows where we are vulnerable, remember?

So, sent out, I go. A temptation occurs, my first test. I heard the voice of Jesus in my heart, the call of my Shepherd, “Stop now, Scott. You are playing with fire and I cannot protect you if you go on without me.” I saw in my mind the stop signs and warning flares going up.

And, I walked right past Jesus. Standing there with His arms open wide, I brushed Him aside and dove intentionally into my temptation. How easily I ignore Him. As I thought of it later, I was devastated by how casually I spurned Him.

I took my failure to Him, weeping at my indiscretion, shamed at my failure. Wrapping me in His arms, He smiled at me and said, “You are already forgiven. What have you learned?” No yelling, no condemnation. Only mercy. Only love pouring from His open arms. “Stop beating yourself up. Everyone falls. Now get up and move on,” I heard His whisper in my heart.

This passage from John, this story is me. I am the adulterous woman, caught in sin. The accusers, Satan and the poison he tries to plant in my heart gather stones to beat me with. Yet, Jesus stands before my self-loathing, before Satan and all the other hypocrites who would accuse and says, “Forgive and let’s move on. You are not without sin either.”

Then, He reaches out His hand. Groveling in the dirt at His feet, I am overcome with my failure, my shame. Picking me up, dusting me off, He says, “I don’t accuse you. I love you. I forgive you.” Then, with love in His eyes, He speaks freedom into my heart. “Now get up, move on and sin no more.”

Here’s my point. You do not have to be defined by your failures. I don’t have to be defined by my failures. If we stay groveling in the dirt of our sin and failures, we play right into Satan’s hands and the stones fly. But, the Master calls us upward and forward to a new day, a new direction, singing a song of freedom…”Go your way and sin no more.”

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I struggle with beating myself up when I mess up. You are absolutely right. It's Satan. Everyone messes up and we just need to seek God's face and then show the grace to others that he shows to us.