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Move on

It has been a while since I have been able to break free from the day-to-day caregiving of an elderly parent, so I am a little overdue for some fishing! The great outdoors always beckon to me because I love to be out in nature. I enjoy the moments of listening to the gentle breezes bristling the tree leaves and the gentle movement of the stream's waters. I like to observe the curiosity of the birds as they explore the forest floor and the gentleness of the deer grazing in the open meadow. There is just something about being able to 'break free' for a while that helps to renew a mind and body. While some will choose to laze around the lake, taking in nature in all its beauty, others will head for a few days with far away relatives and friends, 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 the intense thrill of riding the latest rides. Whatever the location, the purpose of the time 'away' 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" work or 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". Moving on is different from experiencing something such as a vacation, though. To "move on" suggests one is leaving something totally behind, whereas to vacation indicates a short 'leave' from daily responsibilities to enjoy a time of renewal.

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 MSG)

The choice to "leave" one location, then to "cleave" to another is sometimes temporary, as in vacation. At other times, as when one is 'moving on', it is a very permanent choice. I wonder how we treat the "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 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, we are probably a little off-base there - what I really need is to have 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. 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 house 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 need. Vacating a space permanently doesn't always mean we make a clean break, though. We can "move on", but take all of our stuff with us! We pack up the moving van with 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! 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 behind with only the clothes on my back (and they quickly 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 totally with the past. Be on mission with him in the present. This is his plan. This is where we find liberty and purpose. Just sayin!

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