Aiming for progress, not perfection.

"...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

Monday, April 14, 2008

just how far.

my senior year in high school, i was in the musical "Jesus Christ superstar."

i played the adulteress woman whom Jesus rescues from an angry mob set to stone her.

at the time, i most certainly did not catch the overwhelmingly blatant message the Lord was trying to send me by allowing me to act this part. i can remember feeling touched by it, but i had no concept of how it related to my life. talk about blind. it couldn't get more obvious.

"the teachers of the law and the pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. they made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. in the law moses commanded us to stone such women. now what do you say?' they were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. but Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. when they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, 'if any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.'" -john 8:3-7

at that time in my life, i was lost on a search for significance and acceptance, and the degree to which I strayed off course - in the all-wrong direction - is not even calculable. the journey delivered me to the polar opposite of the desired destination.

but that's not exactly what this post is about.

this post is about what Jesus said to that woman after the famous "if any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" speech.

after the mob leaves, one-by-one, He said to her, "woman, where are they? has no one condemned you? ...then neither do I condemn you. go now and leave your life of sin." -john 8:10-11

i was rocking ellie this morning right after she woke up, and i experienced one of those wonderful moments when the Lord whispers, gently revealing something beautiful and oh-so-quietly life-altering. He did it using this story and its very personal relationship to my life.

you see, i've been struggling lately with thoughts of stupid things i've done. i'm talking about things i did a long time ago for which i've asked forgiveness and for which i am fully aware, in my mind, at least, that i've received the requested pardon.

for some reason, however, these nagging thoughts are keeping me awake at night lately, stealing my peace and my joy. quite honestly, they're making tense with fear that i'm going to be repaid in some way for these sins i committed years ago.

but this morning, as i was rocking ellie, Jesus said, "what did I say to that woman? I told her to go and sin no more. through Me, she was capable of that. so are you. and through Me you are redeemed and perfectly forgiven. no questions asked, no payback to fear."

i realized this morning that Jesus truly believed that adulteress would go and leave her life of sin. why wouldn't He believe that? she'd been lavished with grace and mercy by the Savior of the world. her heart had been changed.

while i will always struggle with feelings of self-doubt and lower-than-average self-worth, my heart has been changed. the One who saved and forgave that adulteress saved and forgave this adulteress. for free. He's not waiting to pay me back. He not only forgave me, but He took my payback, my painful, bloody, utterly horrific payback. and now, He's protecting me to boot.

why would He have done that if i was meant to be tormented by my past?

with one of my sweetest blessings sitting sleepily on my lap that is already shrinking under the growth of another one of my sweetest blessings, the Lord whispered:
" far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from you." -psalm 103:12


La said...

Have you seen the Lost video on youtube with the song "Ocean Floor"? Only Lost fans will truly appreciate it and it goes along with what your post is saying. Dumb me - I cried when I watched it. =)

Adam said...

I struggle with the exact same things. It's hard to comprehend that God forgives all even when we can't forget.

ree said...

For some reason, we are all so quick to reassure someone else of the grace and mercy He freely gives, but when it comes to our past, our sin, our sordid details...we begin to backtrack a little...because only we know the extent of how far we have truly gone.

But He knows.
And still forgives.

Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

kj said...

what a sweet whisper. He is such an amazing God.

ACutAbove said... do you know. How do you KNOW? Is it blind faith or is there some THING that says...that tells you...I am forgiven.I am not passing judgement. I just do not understand - how you KNOW you are forgiven and will not suffer as those who have sinned will suffer. I have been taught that those who sin will suffer. Redemption is difficult for those who have sinned. Please tell me - how do you KNOW.

Thank you.

ree said...

"If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

marme said...

For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3

...through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to al men, resulting in justification of life. Romans 5

Justification...means...just as if we never sinned.

For where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.

Just ask Him...and live!

kablot spot said...

He who the SON sets free is FREE indeed... We love Him because He first loved us, and while we were still in sin, Christ died for us. It's so amazing to believe that His blood is thick enough to cover every thought and vicious act of unbelief we can wager against Him. He just suffocates the air from the flame, no matter how brightly it burns within us and how threatening it seems. He restores what sin has destroyed to a state that is better than new-- new, but with the wisdom of experience. It's just amazing what He can do...