God has every right and reason to purge me from His presence and send me to hell. Now, as much as some people are hoping that what follows will be a salacious online confession of heinous crimes against God and nature…I must disappoint you. I am not a serial killer or rapist. I am not a child molester nor do I have a secret drug habit. I don’t hold a secret membership in the KKK, the mafia, or the Illuminati. If your life is all about movies and video games I must look pretty boring.
I graduated high school, college, and seminary and am working on a doctorate. I’ve been married to the same woman for soon-to-be 33 years. I have four kids, a dog, and a home. I work an 8-5 job and pastor a small rural church part-time. Like I said, nothing much to see here or be interested in.
Then why that first line? Because I have gotten to know the God of the Christian faith and Bible. Just because things seem to be wonderfully normal and uninteresting with my life doesn’t mean I have lived a good life. I grew up in a broken home during the sixties and early seventies. I was exposed to things as a kid that shame and embarrass me now. I inherited my father’s temper and have said and done things that I am sure disappoint (if not disgust) God. The world is full of better husbands, fathers, sons, pastors, and preachers than me.
I don’t deserve to be happy or blessed. I don’t deserve the home I live in, the family I have, my awesome job, or the church family that claims me. I am not good. I know it. And if God was who so many people seem to think He is, I would have nothing in life to look forward to. Hell would be my destination, like it or not.
But hell is not where I am going and God has neither abandoned nor forsaken me. Why? One verse and two reasons.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6 ESV).
I believe that the God of the Christian Bible truly exists. And I believe He is good. It sounds pretty simplistic, I know. But despite the whirlwind of life that has brought sorrow and joy, shame and pride, angst and patience, and hilltops and valleys I have never once for a moment felt abandoned by God.
I think the difference between me and those who believe just because it is occasionally in vogue is the seeking part. Seeking means looking hard. It means being willing to be ashamed and corrected. I have never sought out the god who approves of my ways, my life, and my thinking. The God I have sought to find and who is revealed in the Bible is the God who is holy, righteous, and just. He doesn’t make exceptions for me or because of me. He stands fast. Not only in righteousness but in mercy.
So even though I make a fool of myself regularly and dishonor Him occasionally and know I am deserving of the great eternal “write-off” (hell) I also know Jesus stands eternally ready to intercede for me (Romans 8:34) and that forgiveness and cleansing await a truly repentant mind and soul (1 John 1:9).
I am 52 years old. I became a Christian when I was 21. In the ensuing 31 years of discovering God I have been convinced of one unshakeable truth: God is faithful (1 Thessalonians 5:24). He doesn’t change with the times. He doesn’t evolve. He can’t because He is the very definition of truth. He can not change His views on sin. But neither can He change His route to mercy and forgiveness. That is why I love Him so. He will never turn away from a truly repentant and sorrowful heart (Psalm 51:17).
Like many of you I am horrified, sickened, and fearful of what is becoming of this world. Government is becoming more intrusive and repressive. Liberals are putting their silly political correctness above common sense and personal safety. Churches and even entire denominations are redefining behaviors the Church universal has recognized as “sins” for over two thousand years. Such arrogance. And the hatred. Members of the Islamic State pretend they are living in the Dark Ages beheading infidels, racists assassinating police officers, and in my home state of Mississippi someone squirted lighter fluid into the mouth and nose of a beautiful young woman and lit her on fire.
“How do I live with people like this?” I ask God. If you know Him then you know what the reply is: “The same way I live with you.” Faithfully.
That is why I am so grateful for today and hopeful about tomorrow. Because God is faithful. He is real and He is a rewarder of anyone (including me) who wants to seek and know Him. I can have my “rights” taken away from me. I can have my happiness stolen away by evil people. I can lose my integrity and pride by my own stupid and selfish actions. But NO ONE can make my God unfaithful to me. No one. Not ever.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” Revelation 22:21