“Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it”
~ Jonathon Edwards
I am back from a lovely little holiday involving, dirt, tents, tree’s, good food, and even better company. I made roaring fires with my bare hands and it stoked the flame of my ego, as I gloried in my ability to produce such a wonderful element. We played games and took pictures and laughed and even cried (well maybe it was just me who did the crying). Healing and necessary it was.
Something that I wasn’t expecting was the flood of old memories that came back to me. It was almost as though every tree spoke to me of a different remembrance. The camp ground that we were at was the place I basically spent my growing years. My adolescence was steeped in summers camping. And with those memories came the recollection of my juvenile self.
One of the most well-known verses is Romans 8:5, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And it is easy for this verse to roll off your back when you have been a christian for a long time. It doesn’t have the same effect as it does when you are new in the faith.
But when I remember the me that once was, I marvel at this verse.
Because I know that in the days of my youth I was strongly and undeservingly protected by the God I was running from. I have intricate memories of myself in less than ideal situations with less than ideal boys; and yet I was literally plucked from those places, seemingly at random, into safety. Why?
I allowed myself to be in those settings. I willingly and knowingly put myself in those positions, out of defiance and pride because “I can take care of myself.” But then something would happen, and I would be stuck. In danger. Like a bloodied fish thrown to the sharks, I figured there was no way out. With a flash I would realize, “I am no good at taking care of myself.” And just like that a friend would run in and scoop me up before the frenzy began. But why?
I didn’t deserve to be saved. Not then and not now. Why would God protect me, especially when I was running so hard away from Him? How could He love someone like that?
I thought I could defeat the sunday school idea of Hell with my own capable abilities.
“O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.”
Jonathon Edwards most famous sermon address’ the place I was in. But most importantly Jesus addressed it on the cross. Because that Holy God that holds me by a slender thread while the flames of hell lick at my heels, is the same God who in His great mercy and love for me, suffered the penalty of death that I deserved on the cross.
And while I was fiddling with sin like my daughter thoughtlessly makes mud pies with an ant hill…
HE DIED FOR ME…
Reflection on His sovereign protection and grace is maybe the best form of rest. The most enduring kind of holiday.
And I give Him praise for that!