Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sewing Fig Leaves and God's grace

Life is hard.  To be honest, I think it is sometimes harder as a Christian.  

I am sure that raises your eyebrow, or makes you defensive.  Just stick with me.

It is not difficult to find bad people everywhere you look.  There is so much pain, hatred, anger and bitterness; sin. Crowds of sinners making one bad choice after another to satisfy a God-shaped hole in their life. Blinded by their own justification; what is wrong seems right and vice versa.

When we surrender to God's call of adoption, we are filled with all the promises He has made.  The Holy Spirit comes and inhabits our lives, our prayers, our hearts and soul.  It doesn't mean that life becomes easy though.

As a believer, we are now AWARE of the battle that rages around and within us.  Choices have more weight since we know Christ's blood was shed instead of ours.  Our pursuit of holiness is a life long journey, and often times up steep hills, on jagged cliffs, and once or twice; maybe too often, we stumble.  Our sinful condition has to be worked out and healed, treated like an infection that was ignored for too long. It's painful but God's purpose is greater. 

 Outside of God's grace, we didn't know how fallen and broken we were.  Our sin was comfortable, even though it was devastating. It is what we knew.  We found our own way of coping with challenges, heartbreak, anger, hatred, and yes- even good things. 

In our ugliness, we saw our reflection without the eyes of God.  His Word didn't press on us to choose actions that honored Him.  

As a child of God, my responsibility is reflecting what God sees in me.  The lies this world keeps saying that I am not worth love, joy, acceptance, etc; they should have no power over me.  I can let it take control sometimes. I can choose to or I can choose not to. It is difficult to let go of sometimes.  ESPECIALLY the sins of others against me. I let their choices determine who I am, and not what God says about me or who He sees in me.

 If I was all of those things because of my sin and the sin of others against me, then WHY would the Creator of the Universe seek a relationship with me?  WHY would He go to such great lengths as to sacrifice His First Born to pay a debt I owed, or save a wretch like me?

Our sin grieves God. He could have easily scrapped the whole earth and started over.  It wouldn't have been good enough.  He loves his children.  All of them.  So much so, that something had to be done to make things right.

In our condition, we wouldn't be enough. Nothing we do to cover our sin would be. Death was the only price to be paid, and our blood was too diseased to count. It had to be innocent and perfect.

A glimpse of what I image the Garden would look like...

Look at Genesis 3.  This is the account of the first act of disobedience.  Willful, at that. Each party blamed someone else for why they took the action they did.  Eve said the serpent deceived her, but she didn't take ownership of her part.  Adam told God that Eve gave the apple to him, but he didn't take ownership of what he did.  

Verse 7:
 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

Have you ever tried to sew a leaf?  First of all, I don't do any hand sewing.  Second- there isn't a leaf big enough in all this world to cover all I need to cover and feel comfortable.  We have all seen the movies where someone is trapped on a deserted island and has to piece together nature for covering themselves, making shelter, or building a boat.

Are they covered properly and appropriately? Is the shelter strong enough to keep the weather from tearing it apart? What about that boat?  

Nope. Uh-uh. No way.  

Such as it is with Adam, Eve, and us.  Our sin needs more than fig leaves to cover us.  I want to believe that when God, (who already knew the series of events that had taken place), found those two in the garden hiding, he was disappointed.  I want to imagine that He saw their failed attempts to hide what they did and was sad.  Heartbroken.  He made them confess what took place, handed out the punishment that had to be there.


He didn't leave it like that.  His will wouldn't be complete if He left Adam and Eve to themselves.  A sacrifice had to be made. Innocent and perfect.

Verse 21:
 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

Warren Wiersbe's commentary says:
New clothing (v. 21). God’s response to Adam and Eve’s faith was to remove their flimsy man-made garments and clothe them with acceptable garments that He Himself provided (Isa. 61:10). Innocent animals had to die so that the man and woman might have a new beginning and be back in fellowship with the Lord. It’s a picture of what Jesus did for sinners on the cross when He died for a sinful world (2 Cor. 5:21).

I would much rather have God's provision than the filthy rags I try to cover myself in.  I would much rather be in fellowship with God than to wander the earth in darkness, unaware of the most amazing gift available to me: God's grace.

Life is hard.  It is dark and hopeless.  Being a Christian is harder in some ways because we know how much our sin affects us and others; how deeply it grieves God.  However, we are not without HOPE. Christ's blood covers me, provided by Almighty to be good enough to restore our relationship. His gift. Grace.

I still have to work out the consequences, and it will be difficult. I might stumble, but I am not alone.  God's grace is sufficient. Enough. All inclusive.

HEBREWS 4:14-16

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold FIRMLY to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Lord God,
Thank you that you were not satisfied to leave us dressed in filthy rags fashioned by our own hands.  Thank you that you pursued something better and deeper with us.  God, I confess that I don't always make the right choice.  I choose to satisfy my own desires, rather than relying on the desires you have for me.  I know you are always working, even when I can't see you.  Use me, Lord, to be a reflection of the grace I have received from You.  It is only because of you that I can say I am saved.  I chose today to serve You.  In Jesus's Name,