The walls of the tiny house shake; a flash of light affirmed the proximity of the explosion. We pull the blanket tighter around us feeling somehow more secure. We think of people living this way for years at a time, people we do not know, far away people, but people with faces, hopes, lives. For us if we survive this night it will be over for another year. Another explosion, farther away this time, the cat asks entry but is refused.
First of all it is not black and white. No one is all left and no one is all right. We are a mix, each and every one of us – but we tend to be team players, herd animals. Consider a football team, the one considered to be yours, the one you root for when they win and when they lose. Imagine a key player, the guy that cuts through the line and slaps the ball out of the quarterback’s hand. That key player, during the off-season, is traded to a rival team. He once was cheered. He once was honored for his skill. Now he’s the cheating bit of slime the just hurt our quarterback!
My wife and I do a thing that is considered, by some, unthinkable. We cheer for individual plays. If the offence executes a play with skill and success we cheer. If the defense blocks progress and pushes the ball back to second and twenty we cheer. I realize it’s a messed up way to watch football but I suggest it is a better way to handle the politics of our country.
“I was looking decent, but nothing fancy and certainly not sexy! I was going to the grocery store! I mean, I had shorts on, but not short shorts. I had on that little tee-shirt top, you know, the pale yellow with the little loop stitching on the edges? Nice, but not exactly an attention getter. Well I see a group of construction workers working on a building up ahead, so I just look straight ahead, no eye contact, nothing to lead them on. So when I get up close every single one of them goes presidential on me. I couldn’t believe it! I wanted to tell them a thing or two but that would just encourage them so I kept my eyes straight ahead and kept walking. What’s this world coming too?”
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
I looked at this verse differently. What if you turn around? I was excited. It fit so well into the rest of the Bible. Repentance is an abrupt about face, turn from your sin and turn toward God right? So I shared it with three pastors. I’m thinking this will preach! But not only did no one get all excited and start to make sermon notes; they didn’t even like it.
Looking into it I think I now understand why. The modern day view of Grace is that our sins are made right. But sin is never right and can never be made right. God prunes the bad branches and takes them to the dump to be burned and while we are on Earth the consequences remain. Only Godliness goes to heaven. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
So how far is my sin from me? I’m a fairly normal guy. I read books and find descriptions of people who think a lot like me. I can be driving in my car singing worships songs (Walking West) until someone cuts me off for no good reason and I ride their bumper (Walking East) and then the love of God finds its way back into my heart and I back off and look for my place in keeping the highways safe (Walking West). I’m making an effort to walk toward God all the time, but I don’t and going from walking away from God and walking toward God is always an abrupt about face.
So what is the Grace God gives us? What is this undeserved gift that we should not be able to even conceive? I believe that because of the Grace of God we can understand what goodness is. We can make a choice between Good and Evil because of Grace.
A plain day, in-between things, no events to mark it, nothing assigned to it. When you walk outside and cannot tell if it is hot or cold or if you should leave town or stay. I sat for a while, like sitting in a void or one of those sensory chambers the dopers used to go into during the sixties.
“There’s only one way out,” he waited for a reply, hoping he was wrong. No one replied.
“On three?” still thinking an alternative might present itself before the deadline.
“On three or where four should be?” at last a friend who understood the need for procrastination.
“On three, right as we say three. He had thought that would be easy enough to understand,” he sounded impatient but he was anything but.
“Don’t get in a huff,” added the procrastinating friend. “Just didn’t want to be standing here all alone waiting for where four should be and everyone left on three, that’s all.”
‘“There, you just said it, “on three,”’ this guy was really starting to bug. “How hard could it be?”
“Just making sure, don’t get dandruff all over your shirt.”
“Just an expression.”
‘“No it’s not, you just made it up and it doesn’t make a lick of sense,” he was thinking, “this guy needs to shut up and soon.”’
“Hey, look over there!”
“Another way!” all the tension just drained away. “Okay guys, follow me.”