Friday, May 18, 2012

Not another "stay-cation"!

It is almost the end of the school season and many families are beginning to make their plans for summer vacations.  Some will choose to laze around the lake, taking in nature in all its beauty.  Others will head for far away family, renewing the bonds and memories which the miles have imposed in their separation.  Yet, others will clamor for the long lines of the amusement parks and thrill of riding the latest rides.  Whatever the location, the purpose of the time is "to get away" from today's hassles and to enjoy some time in a moment of "escape".  I daresay, we "leave" in order to "renew".  Some will use this break from school as a time to pick up family and belongings, moving to a totally new place in the country.  Jobs, family demands, or other opportunities influencing their decision to "move on".


So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we've left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn't you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land! (Romans 6:1-3 The Message)


The choice to "leave" one location, then to "cleave" to another is sometimes temporary, as in vacation.  At other times, it is quite a permanent choice.  I wonder how we treat our "leaving" of our past lifestyle "before Christ" - - as a vacation from sin, or as a clean break?  I have treated it as a "vacation" at times - - turning back to the same old stuff.  How silly is that?  I tasted of the goodness of grace, felt the renewal of forgiveness, and then chose purposefully to step back into what I had just left.  Some would say I need my head examined, right?  Well, you are probably a little off-base there - - I really need my heart examined!


Whenever we treat God's forgiveness and his renewal as a "season of vacation" from our sin, we are likely to turn back to it at a later time.  When we actually make a "move away" from sin, we have a much better time overcoming it.  Let me explain...


- God offers us an escape from the "country where sin is sovereign".  This is a place of profoundly wrong choices which impact us in many negative ways.  We find ourselves lacking in relationship stability because we choose to focus on self rather than others.  We are engulfed with self-pity because we don't get our way.  When we do get our own way, we don't find the fulfillment we hoped would be attached to the choice.  It is truly a place we'd like to escape.


- Vacating a space can be temporary, or permanent.  The determination becomes apparent when we examine how much we have "dissolved" our ties with the place we left.  If we go on a vacation, we pack a few bags, knowing we will return.  In fact, we often ask someone to watch over our place while we are gone, ensuring the plants are watered and the dog is cared for.  We plan to return.  We never intended to "pull up roots" and move on.  We were looking for a temporary "fix" for our problem.  


- Vacating a space permanently carries some interesting ideas for us to consider.  First, we can "move on", but take all our stuff with us!  We back up the moving van into the driveway, pack up all our belongings, put the car on a hitch behind the van, pile the family and dog in the front seat and away we go.  We "leave", but we are still "cleaving" to the stuff we are taking along with us!  But...we can "leave" in order to "cleave" to something new.  I did this when I left for the military in 1976.  I left it all...only the clothes on my back (and they took those away from me!).  When I arrived at Ft. Jackson, they gave me new garments, a new place to live, and all new associations.  It was a true "break" from my life as I knew it.  They were intending me to "cleave" to my new way of life!


I wonder how we treat our "break from sin" - - is it a clean break?  If we leave, but never break the tie of "cleaving to" the sin, we find ourselves drawn back.  I returned "home" after basic training - - but I was changed.  My ties to home were different.  It was my past.  I had a future planned out for me and I was "on mission" with the military.  I had a new purpose for my life.  Guess what?  God has the same plans for us.  Break with the past.  Be on mission with him in the present.  This is his plan.  This is where we find liberty and purpose.


Just some thoughts on "vacating" for you to consider today!