Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lessons are Learned in the Journey

Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 
-2 Corinthians 5:14-17
Montana highway by gmark1, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  gmark1 

 "Are we there yet?" -- a common half-joke amongst families as they undertake a long journey and one that is not unfamiliar to me. As the youngest of three children, I was often put in the middle seat, smack dab on top of the hot, sticky, uncomfortable fake leather. Elbows on one side, shoulders on the other, those journeys could be excruciating. That was if we were all in a good mood!

Let us not pretend I was an angel, however. Far from it.

One trip in particular my siblings take great glee in retelling that only comes with years of distance from an event because being there was far less glamorous. We had travelled out to Brandon, Manitoba to visit my Uncle and Aunt and spend some time with them before both of our families journeyed south of the border to Great Falls, Montana. Not a spot that you would normally call 'vacation' but I remember a large Target and a mother who was thrilled at cheap prices. The journey itself is a patience testing twelve hours in the best of conditions.

As any young boy is prone to do, I had always wanted a pet to call my own. A friend who would be loyal to me when the bullies at school were particularly nasty, or my brother would not share the Sega Genesis. It was an admittedly romanticized fantasy, devoid of poop, early mornings or any other inconveniences pet owners can attest to. While in Brandon, one of my older cousins had such a dog, a droopy eyed, floppy skinned old mutt who was happy to put up with a ecstatic young boy petting him, walking him and spending copious amounts of time lavishing in his brilliance. For a short time, I had a summer fling... with Elfie.

But as with any summer fling, it must come to an end. A long, excruciating end filled with highways, and desperate parents. Nearly a solid twelve hours of crying that I wanted a puppy, that I wanted Elfie. To my parents credit, they never promised me that I would get a pet to shut me up... but they tried anything else! Games on the highway, food, music, video games... anything to get their youngest son to be quiet. I'm amazed in hindsight they did not through me out the window and keep driving.

How often do we cry out to God begging Him to let us be there already? We are tired of our lives, afraid of what is going to happen next, beaten down from the perpetual waves of despair beating against our shores. We are weak, constantly struggling with sin and broken relationships from a world that lives in the corrupt state of sin.

We want to be free.

Yet God looks at us and He sees a creation in process. Something that is lives in a state of in-between. We are new creations because of Christ, redeemed by His sacrifice on the cross. We are sinful beings, unable to restore ourselves to the state we willingly walked away from. We struggle against ourselves, caught in a perpetual tangle that wounds us as we attempt to extract our limbs. We are wounded.

I cannot speak for you, but it is from this reality that I often find myself wounding others. I succumb to the trauma of life and lash out at others -- judging, hurting and attempting to exert power over them. Thank Jesus for grace in these times, both for myself and for others.

I am a new person. Seeing with God's eyes means offering God's grace to those around me. It may mean showing grace where my heart wants to wound or offering a hard word where I would rather let it go. My family has travelled thousands of miles together, and we arrived mostly in one piece thanks to love.

How are we treating others? Are we learning from the lessons we learn in our own journey, or are we using those moments to wound others?
Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves.
I want to live this out in my own life.

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