Great News! (or as MercyMe says, it's the Best News Ever!)
Wednesday afternoon is one of my favorite times of the week; that’s the day I typically have set aside to meet with two older men from church who over the years have become both close friends and a pillar of support and wisdom. One of those men is on a journey of terminal blood cancer - his bone marrow has gone haywire, which prevents his body from producing the red blood cells he needs. Regular transfusions keep him alive, but apart from a miracle from God, he knows his days on this earth are numbered.
Our shared experience of chronic health issues that to date have not gone away - chronic pain for me, cancer for him - have been the catalyst for many intense, focused conversations about life, death, the nature of healing, both physical and spiritual, God’s will, acceptance, and the mysteries of this thing we call life. Towards the end of our time together yesterday I poured out my heart about the wrestling in my soul lately around the issues of sin, pride, and the blinders we as Christians tend to put on when we start talking about “those people” and how we’re right and they’re wrong. I can’t speak for anyone else, but in my case the rhyme from childhood definitely is true - “For every finger pointed at me there’s four fingers pointing back at you.” I don’t have a lot of time to waste pointing out other people’s faults when I have so many of my own issues to confront and so much more important priorities - in particular my desire to see my non-Christian friends come to know and follow Jesus.
What’s hit me hardest lately is just how blind we become to our own sin when we’re focused on the sin of others. I shared how much I desired to grow in my relationship with Christ, and how much I wanted to quit wasting time on other people’s faults and instead channel my time and energy towards maturing in my faith and reaching out to others who don’t know Jesus. I want the good news to be good again, instead of shrugging my shoulders with complacency and a “Yeah I’ve heard all that before” attitude.
My devotional this morning comes from Our Daily Bread and is titled “Great News!” It’s a great refresher that the gospel isn’t just “something” we believe - it’s a message that shook the foundations of our world and literally changed the lives of countless souls for eternity!!!
I still remember vividly my very first backpacking trip nearly 15 years ago; some guys from my small group were doing a two night, three-day trek along the South Fork of the Merced River just outside Yosemite National Park in California. I’d only been walking with the Lord for a few months at that point, fresh out of a life filled with substance abuse, sexual immorality, and self-absorbed narcissism. I was terrified that somehow these guys would reject me because of my past, but instead they embraced me warmly with open arms as a fellow brother in Christ. On our second night in the wilderness, we slept in the open on a sandy beach next to the river. In the middle of the night I woke up, put on my glasses, and stared up at the countless brilliant stars twinkling above in the heavens. I stopped for a moment to ponder the fact God knew each and every one of those stars - and he knew me. Tears filled my eyes as I wept for joy; God knew me, loved me, had forgiven me and set me free from bonds I thought could never be broken. I still tear up every time I think about it.
Today’s devotional says this:
God’s forgiveness of our sin and offer of reconciliation, made possible through His Son, is more than a mere fact of the Christian faith. The article’s news of reconciliation reminds us that Jesus’s sacrifice is great news not just for the world, but for you and me.
The truth of the gospel is good news for you; it’s good news for me. May the gratitude that fills our hearts from that news spill over and touch the lives of many as we walk with our Savior!