Am I in trouble?
Gonna meddle a little here this morning. Do you ever get into trouble? I mean the kind where you just aren't really sure there is any way out of it - the trouble you make or that is made by those you associate with that is just about to bury you alive. The truth is that most of the time we make our own trouble - we don't need the help of others to really do a good job at finding and meddling around with trouble. Trouble isn't a thing - it is a set of actions that lead to a result we probably will find a little undesirable. I joke from time to time that I am 'making trouble' when someone asks me what I am up to, but if I were honest here, the times when I am really 'making trouble' in my life are not a joking matter!
As kids, we'd ask our friends if they got 'in trouble' for being home late, or for having ripped their shirt, or for having lost that new sweater they got at Christmas from grandma. The 'event' was enough that we expected the outcome for our friend to maybe not be all that 'favorable' when they were faced with the searching eyes of their parents. It is like 'trouble' was a condition - an outcome of having been careless or less focused than we should have been. In reality, we weren't all that far from the truth on that one. "Trouble" is an outcome - one that usually ensues because we took some course of action that wasn't correct.
As adults, we don't ask each other if we got 'in trouble' for the things we do and it is harder for us to really tell if someone is feeling the weight of their bad decisions or not because we have become so good at concealing our 'trouble' from others. I wonder what would happen if we were a little more transparent with each other about the 'trouble' we find ourselves in at this moment. If we aren't going to be honest with each other, we definitely need to be honest with God. We cannot hide our 'trouble' from him - no matter how skilled we become at concealing it! What happened when we got home late as kids? A lot of the time some of our 'privileges' were restricted for a period of time. We couldn't go out the next day to play after school as a form of 'punishment' for our tardiness the night before. The reason we sought so desperately to cover up our 'troubling actions' as kids was because they carried a form of 'punishment' with them! No wonder we don't want to admit our troubles to each other and even God himself! We fear the judgment and punishment that could come!
The good news is that God isn't in the punishment business - he is in the restoration business! He isn't going to overlook our misdeed - in fact, he made a way for us to be out from under the guilt and shame of it through his son, Jesus. So, instead of punishment, he extends grace. Yes, there are outcomes to our actions - we call those consequences. Speed down the freeway, get pulled over, and you get a ticket. God knows the consequence of speeding will cost us something - we are to recognize the value behind the rule we have just broken. It isn't that he is punishing us by us having to go to traffic school or pay that fine - it is a consequence of our bad choice. Sin has consequences and sometimes I think we associate these with punishment. We somehow think God is punishing us, but the opposite is true. He has provided a means for us to no longer make those bad choices, learning from the consequence that resulted from our past 'not so good choices', and he helps us 'get out of trouble' by consistently working in our lives to help us make the right choices in the future. We serve a God who comes alongside - not one who lords it over! Just sayin!