I am running as fast as I can on the road that goes nowhere.
The Cheshire Cat lied as he smiled at me and said
If I ran long enough I’d get somewhere.
In this land where things are not what they seem to be,
I have forgotten who I am and where I am going.
If I don’t know who I am, then where do I go with all my running.
Who am I? A product of chance and the sod?
A dispensable taxi for disdainful DNA?
Does my life have meaning and purpose?
Or do I live to just pass DNA on?
Dust to dust, sending forth seed and then I am done?
If that’s all I am, then why do I run?
Why do I dream the impossible dream
Or try to reach the unreachable star?
That I am the child of the Most High God,
Named and treasured, loved and cherished,
Nothing random about me at all?
Is it that the impossible dream, the unreachable star
Is found in the place of rest within My Creator’s heart?
It seems that we are living in a season of rebellions, revolutions, resistances and uprisings. Why?
There is a profound discontent all over the world with the governments, their policies and their impact on the common people.
In every case right through history, where there has been a rebellion/revolution, it has been against a government that has proved itself to be:
- Uncaring of the needs of the people
- Greedy, seeking only personal gain
- Lawless – applying laws for self-benefit, subverting laws to maintain power, while the members of the govt. themselves refuse to submit to the law.
- Oppressive and exploitative
So the people rise up, because they hope to establish a government which will be the opposite of the one they have been enslaved by. They hope that the new government will be:
- Caring of the needs of the people
- Seek the prosperity and growth of the people
- Just/lawful – where the law is applied justly, tempered with mercy; where the govt. itself subjects itself to its own laws.
- Engages in dialogue with the people so that systems can be continuously bettered
Why? Why would you want such a government?
When a government cares for its people and is just and free, a climate is created where people can enjoy peaceable lives, trade prospers, the standard of living improves. In this world there is already so much pain and suffering – either through sickness or relationships. People long for peace on at least some front, so that there is a sense of stability and security.
When I read through the prophets, especially Isaiah, I see a picture unfolding of a government, a world system that we are all longing for.
A world in which there is no war,
Where everyone can carry out their trade peacefully,
Where all our labours bear good fruit,
Where we have the time to enjoy the fruit of our labours,
Where there is no more sickness or death,
Where there is no more pain of broken promises,
Where love has made all things complete and perfect,
Where the lion can lie down with the lamb,
Where none will make us afraid.
It is interesting that every author who has tried to create an utopia, finds that it ultimately turns into a dystopia, because of one incorrigible factor – human nature. At some point or the other, covetousness – the desire to be the one in power, calling the shots, enjoying privileges –kicks in, and then the inner corruption of man is revealed.
Who can forget William Golding’s book ‘The Lord Of The Flies’? I think it has to be the most spine-chilling book I have ever read. A group of boys stranded on an island try to work out a system so that each one is fed, protected and taken care of. What happens is that in time, privilege systems evolve, a tyrant emerges and lynch mobs develop. (I won’t say more, because if you haven’t read the book, I think you should get hold of it and read it.)
The sad thing today, is that people desire the original vision and plan of God for life on earth. But we reject His government. We have seen the outline of His blue-print and we are trying to take it and build it our way. It’s not going to happen. We only have the outline. He has the true, complete blue-print.
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is within us. Meaning – each of us has the capacity within us to decide which government to choose – the government of satan or the government of God.
We have read this a thousand times at Christmas –
“… A son will be given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders. …
His government and peace will have unlimited growth. …
He will uphold it with justice and righteousness now and forever. …’
What if we really accepted the kingdom of God, took Him at His word and we asked Him to govern our thoughts, emotions and will?
Human nature is the greatest stumbling block to utopia – the kingdom of peace and righteousness. Jesus deals with that Himself by dwelling in us and setting to work from within to bring about a government that is just, fair, honest, upright, kind and complete. There is no place for our human nature if Jesus dwells within us.
Day by day Jesus sets about dismantling the ruinous impact of the corrupt decrees that ruled us, guided our thoughts and initiated our behaviour. We experience greater circles of peace within us. We experience greater circles of peace around us, as our responses to situations and people are now being formed by thoughts which are governed by a throne of True Wisdom and Righteousness.
Jesus said that one does not get a light and hide it under a bushel. We have taken it to mean that we should go out and talk a lot about Him.
But I think what Jesus meant was that if you receive a truth, you cannot tuck it away, hoarding it away as a miser hoards pennies. A truth is given to light your path. To become light for others. That can happen only if we allow that truth to shape our thoughts and govern our behaviour. The change in us will bring a ripple effect in the communities where we are. Jesus said that men would look at our actions and glorify God, not that men would listen to what we have to say and glorify God.
If each of us who professes the name of Christ, actually submitted to His Kingship, listened to His voice and submitted to it, the spread and sway of satan’s kingdom would diminish. We would see the kingdom of peace and righteousness (that all the world wants but is rebelling against) being established.
We spend a lot of time whining and protesting against unfair world systems. But nothing is going to change unless we Christians, ourselves begin to truly submit to the kingship of Jesus.
Would people be so anti-Christian if our walk matched our talk? If they actually saw kindness and grace, truth and integrity in the ordinary Christians they encounter daily, and not just in a lonely Mother Teresa?
One day, God is going to require it of us Christians. He is going to ask us – ‘I gave you My Son. Cleared all your debts. Gave you a new life, all that was needed for life and godliness through My Holy Spirit. Taught you every truth that you needed to know, why then did you continue in rebellion to me? Why did you not trust me? Why did you continue to rule your life in co-operation with satan? Why did you cause my Name to be profaned among the nations? Why did you take My Name in vain, if you did not intend to honour me by obeying me?’
We need to stop and think deeply. What would we answer?
Son of God
Triumphant over death
Returning for a Bride
I am the first and the last,
and the Living One.
and behold I am alive forevermore,
and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Rev 1:17-18 ESV
Because I live,
you also will live.
John 14:19 ESV
Today I was texting an encouraging message to my friend. My phone has a mind of its own, and loves to guess what word I am thinking of, and it helpfully suggests words based on keystrokes. And since it’s a machine it pulls out the first word that it thinks the keystrokes made.
I wanted to tell her that God would bring us through as pure gold through each trial. But my phone took the keystrokes and interpreted them as ‘brought as pure hold through each trial’.
As I didn’t stop to read it back, I sent it – typos and all. My loving friend mentally edited nonsense words and made sense out of it all. Later, when I re-read the message, I laughed about it, till it struck me that that was actually a pretty profound thought.
We come through each trial as pure hold: HELD by Hands.
So often when we think about our faith being tested, we think that we have to have the right attitudes in the trials, think the right things, say the right things, pray the right prayers. Its all up to us. And if we get it right, God will help us come through.
While all along, we come through because we are HELD by His hands. The fires test and prove GOD’s ability to hold us and carry us through; His ability to work in us so that we come forth as gold.
From the moment the zygote formed
At the first shocked cry
Till the final breath and beyond
Waters swell, swirl and tug
Fires roar and rage
The prowling lion circles
My heart and my strength may fail me
But I am HELD
Carved in the palm of His hand
He has willed that I should not perish
So I am HELD
Though my grip may loosen
Though I can’t see the way before me
I am HELD
By the One for whom darkness is light
Who guides my faltering steps
Who shelters me when my wick is smouldering.
The fires lick away at His hands
Clenched over the precious treasure guarded within
The fires die out helpless
Unable to get the treasure within.
The waters pull at His hands
Seeking to pluck out the clinging wretch
But His grip never loosens
And the Wretch lands on the lofty rock perch.
His hands give strength to my fingers
As they lock with mine o’er the sword
The prowling lion lies conquered
At tiny command of the Lord.
Fear burns up
Leaving golden faith
Faith in the Hands of the One who carries me.
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, Destroy.
Deu 33:27 ESV
I have engraved you
on the palms of My Hands …
Isa 49:16 ESV
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God …
Isa 43:2-3 ESV
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.
Psa 63:8 ESV
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
and the angel of His presence saved them;
in His love and in His pity he redeemed them;
He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Isa 63:9 ESV
Listen to me, …
who have been borne by Me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;
even to your old age I am He,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made,
and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.
Isa 46:3-4 ESV
Watchman, what of the night?
The cock’s crowed thrice heralding the dawn.
Light may begin to streak across the sky
But deep and dark is the night that has filled my heart.
“Lord, I’m able and willing to die with You,
Though all forsake You, I will be with You,
You can count on me.”
All my boasting has been vain and empty.
I could have fought and died at Gethsemane,
But here… mocked, stripped, flogged?
There is nothing heroic or glorious about that.
No, I don’t know Him.
I am seeing Him for the first time.
I thought I knew You, Jesus, Son of God,
All I can say now is that Your ways are not as my ways
Nor are Your thoughts as my thoughts.
I stand at the edge of the dark empty abyss of my heart and search:
Where is love? I thought I’d show Him
There is no greater love than mine,
I am His friend, and I’ll lay my life on the line.
Oh that the earth would open and swallow me.
Where can I run from You, Father in Heaven,
Even in the deepest depths of hell and despair
Your right hand holds me and sustains me.
Who can I run to but You, Lord,
For You have the words of eternal life.
The cock crowed piercing the fog of fears, reminding me of my vows.
You lifted Your head and looked at me.
Every word of denial, You’d heard.
But Your eyes, my Lord, did not accuse me.
They offered me strength and hope.
Your eyes reminded me that You’d prayed
That my faith would not fail
And that I’d come forth as wheat separated from the chaff.
I weep, for now I know, that there is no love greater than Yours.
Yes, the dark night of despair is within me,
But the spreading light of dawning grace
Is showing me that I am a prodigal who has a home.
The cock has crowed and heralded a new day.
I never knew it, but I was one of those who sat in great darkness.
A great light has shined in my heart –
Lo, the Sun of Righteousness rises within me,
The dark kingdom of enthroned self and sin
Retreats in the light of Your glory,
And I find there’s a welcome into the kingdom of heaven
And comfort, grace and strength to make a fresh start.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow …
Isa 1:18 ESV
Peter’s three years with Jesus had not been in vain. He had ears to listen, and he listened. At the Last Supper that Jesus and His disciples had shared, Peter had taken hold of the words Jesus had spoken, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father… What I say isn’t said on my own. The Father who lives in me does these things.” John 14:9-10
Every parable that Jesus had told His disciples revealed the Father’s heart of grace. Every healing He performed revealed the Father’s heart to make whole and restore. Every person he blessed and sent on their way with the words, “Your sins are forgiven you, go and sin no more,” revealed the Father’s tender heart of mercy.
Peter’s name was originally Simon. A name which means, ‘He has heard’, and comes from the root word ‘shama’ which means ‘to hear, listen to, obey’. Simon Bar-Jonah had spent three years hearing, treasuring and submitting to the Word of God. Now he stood and acted upon the Word that was planted in his heart. God could be trusted. God would welcome him. God desired for him to come home. God was waiting for him, seeking for him.
Jesus had told the parable of the wise and foolish man. The foolish man thought everything was okay with him merely because he’d heard the word of God. The wise man however submitted to the word of God, acted upon it, obeyed it. The result was that when the storms came, the foundations held, and the house stayed standing.
There was a mighty storm which engulfed Simon the hearer and doer and he emerged from that storm as Peter, the one whose foundations stood firm upon the Rock.
Maybe today there is a storm in your life, caused by your own actions/words, and you don’t see how God can forgive you. Child of God, nothing can separate you from His love. To know His heart, look at the cross, look at Jesus. In Him you see the glory, the heart of God revealed. Jesus has prayed for you as he has prayed for Peter and me, that our faith should not fail.
Don’t let satan feed you with lies about God. In Jesus you see the Truth about God revealed. Let faith arise in your heart, and move you to the arms of God. It is only in the dark night of brokenness, bankruptcy and the sense of utter failure that the kingdom of God, heaven, light can dawn.
But for you who fear My name,
the Sun of Righteousness shall rise
with healing in its wings.
You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
Mal 4:2 ESV
Lord, Messiah, Son of God,
Things were not supposed to end this way!
All power is surely Yours to command!
Why don’t You cast off the cloak of humanity?
Let Your true glory show.
My heart rips with each lash that falls on Your back
Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! They call out to me.
You knew, didn’t You, Rabbi, Master,
When You knelt at my feet to wash,
That with a kiss of friendship I’d betray you
And for 30 pieces of silver lose my eternity.
You ravening wolves, take back your silver,
Keepers of the law, let that innocent man go free.
How can you pervert justice?
How can you laugh in my face?
Can you not see the sin that is staining your hands?
Can you not see the Judgment Throne of the Holy God
As without defence before Him you stand?
O Sinless, Innocent One
How can I ever be forgiven for what I have done?
There is no atonement left for me.
Life is too bitter for me, the cup of folly I’ve drunk
Now its poison works within me
Withering all hope
And showing me the end of the road.
And so Judas died. Lonely, trapped in his guilt and remorse.
Mercy was being released like a mighty flood at the cross, a river that would cover the earth.
But Judas confused his friends and his enemies. He ran to the religious leaders, counting them as his friends, but they were merely hirelings who only cared to maintain their Raj. He thought he had some value some worth to them; after all he’d helped them achieve their goal. For them he was only another cog in the wheel, and Judas discovered that too late.
‘Self’ ruled Judas’ heart and so he could not see the mercy of God. He had heard Jesus’ tell person after person, ‘Your sins are forgiven you, go and sin no more.’ That was for ‘them’, the sinners, the fallen, immoral people, not for him – Judas Iscariot, keeper of the moneybag, disciple of Jesus. That seed which brought forth good fruit in the hearts of so many, fell by the wayside in his heart.
Cut off from the group he’d known for 3 years, rejected by the ones he’d trusted, alone and friendless, caught in the dark of despair, Judas stood condemned by his own heart. He confused his friends and his enemies once again. He ran from the scene of the crime, but not to the arms of God.
He’d walked with Jesus for three years, and yet had not understood the heart of mercy and grace of the Father God who was willing to welcome the prodigal son.
I always wonder what would have happened if Judas’ had fallen face down before God.
Would God have turned him away?
On the cross Jesus was dying as atonement for the sins of the world, and on another tree Judas was hanging because he chose to carry his own sin.
Jesus said, ” … whoever comes to me I will never cast out” … John 6:37-40
I don’t know what personal demons- fear, despair, guilt, shame or loneliness you are wrestling with today. May I encourage you to hope?
Judas thought he had to get his act together before he went to God. He saw no way to put things right and was crushed by the despairing, dead-ended thought that he would never be forgiven by God.
But there is NO SIN so heinous that God will not forgive. Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment of our sins on Himself. On the cross, Jesus cried, ‘Tetelestai’ – a greek word, which even today is the word that is stamped on invoices, meaning, ‘Paid in full, no further claims to be made on this account’.
You are forgiven. Already. Because Jesus died in your place on the cross. He’s paid the price for your forgiveness. You don’t have to carry your sin, or pay for it by yourself. You just have to go to God asking Him to forgive you, and receive the forgiveness that is yours BECAUSE Jesus died for you.
God accepts us as we are, and when we put our lives in His hand, He slowly untangles things – lives, thoughts, emotions, and establishes us in peace.
Jesus promised, He’d never throw out anyone who came to Him. Run to His arms, tell Him your thoughts, fears, battles, your mistakes, your goof-ups and ask Him to take over your life, your battles, your confusions, and give you His peace. He will. He loves you. May His peace and grace be multiplied to you.
The LORD is compassionate, merciful, patient, and always ready to forgive…
He has not treated us as we deserve for our sins or paid us back for our wrongs.
As high as the heavens are above the earth- that is how vast his mercy is toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west- that is how far he has removed our rebellious acts from himself.
As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.