I grew up in a very dysfunctional family; yet was in and out of church during my childhood. I believed in Jesus, repentance, and baptism. I got down the believing part pretty quickly, and being remorseful for my sins in repentance. I had a check list going. I just knew I had to believe to get into heaven and stay out of hell. I was ok with the repentance part; as I was sorry for my sins. Just this physical baptism seemed final. Whether it was the lack of teaching, or my lack of understanding; I believed that I had to be prepared to be perfect and not sin anymore. For some reason I believed that baptism was when I made that final commitment to be good forever. Works verses Grace. I chose to wait. I didn’t have a clue about a relationship with Jesus Christ; I just didn’t want to go to hell.
C. S. Lewis talks about once we commit bad acts each time we are less sensitive to it. So each time we do bad, we become closer to bad being our normal. We are desensitized to it. With that normal, Satan is able to come between us and God by our own choices. My bad choices lead to divorce, jail, and prison. Just as with Adam, my free will choices were causing my separation from God. In the beginning Adam sinned. We all assume the human race lost so much, which is true; however, God lost his perfect creation by giving them free will. God was hurt and lost as well, but being Holy even in his Great Love he had to be just as well. He wants a relationship of love with us.
Romans 3: 23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Even Paul, Jesus chosen disciple to the gentiles, speaks in Roman’s 7:14-25, that, “. . . I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . “So if even a chosen disciple that is saved and baptized continues to sin what is the answer. What I didn’t understand was time and space is irrelevant to God. While we look at time as linear, God is not limited by space and time. He can forgive our sins we are to commit in the future as well as in the past. He can see King David the same as he can see us now.
I was so blessed to meet the love of my life, my wife Janet. She was a Registered Nurse, Licensed Social Worker, and a medical missionary. Despite my past, she loved me, and saw the big heart that was hiding from all the hurt of my childhood that spilled over into my first marriage. She taught me about God’s forgiveness, and that he just wants a relationship with us, as much as we need a relationship with him. She taught me about feeling convicted for my sin. She taught me that we will continue to sin while in this broken world, but he keeps on forgiving because no one will ever be perfect. I saw Janet lead so many to Christ without preaching, just by being her, and letting the Holy Spirit use her. One man Max, she worked with in hospice had refused to go to church for over 50 years with his wife. Even during his dying process he believed dead was just dead. This to him meant just the lack of existing. Janet had become sick on a missionary trip and was in a wheelchair at this time. Max asked her how God could do that if he existed. I don’t know exactly what Janet said, but she told him God didn’t want this any more than she did, but we live in and broken and fallen world. She told him, God would use it to his glory and for good, and eventually she would be made whole again in heaven. One Sunday Max woke, told his wife he wanted to go to church with her, and he was baptized that day. Max died two days later. I seen Janet let the spirit use her for so many others, including me.
Even in the end she taught me. Janet passed away April 15, 2011, after a long illness from her missionary work that finally took her in a very traumatic way. I cannot explain the physical, emotional, spiritual pain and despair I felt. I was mad at God. I don’t think God is upset when we get mad at him, I think it hurts him when we become apathetic towards him, because when we turn our backs on him we are lost. He wants a relationship and sometimes the best of relationships have misunderstandings. With God it is our misunderstanding, but he realizes that. I believe if we communicate with him we are mad he will give us peace and understanding, but we have to communicate with him. God did speak to me when I started listening. Then I realized that as bad as my despair was, it was due to a relationship between just two people. When Jesus asked from the Cross, “Father why have you forsaken Me.”; it was at that moment that God being Holy could not look upon sin. Jesus took all the sin and despair for each and everyone that ever existed throughout all of the history of mankind, past and future, billions. He did that to satisfy the justice or Holy part of God, so that he could restore mankind’s relationship with the loving father through him. Imagine that kind of love, its grandeur is above our human comprehension. Yet he did it for everyone.
Whether we accept it or not, he did it for all sinners. All we have to do is believe, repent, and be baptized, and our relationship with him is restored and all our sins are forgiven in love. In contrast to our normal being bad, as we walk with Jesus we start doing good things, and each day the good becomes more normal until we sin less and our bad becomes abnormal to us. When we have that relationship we start to realize that he is always there beside us. That realization makes us think so much clearer and less sinfully. Satan is defeated. So to put Romans 3:23 in context, read 3:24 along with it, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” So I have taken some time off in my grief, and chosen to seek a deeper relationship with Jesus. We are all the body of Christ so seeking to help one another is one way to communicate with him. He wants all of us to spend time with him individually as well. He loved us above imagination just for that. He never meant for death and suffering to rule the world, and in him eternity will be free from death and full of joy.