The means

I love you, God— you make me strong. God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout. (Psalm 18:1-2)

I have been watching some old western shows lately. As I watched one yesterday, something of a 'message' came forth. There was this man who robbed a stagecoach, making off with gold, monies, and some jewels. He was wounded by one of the passengers as he rode off, but he made it to his destination - an outcropping of rocks with a hole large enough to stay inside. His horse was cleverly concealed in the craggy places, but horses being what they are, they like to drift a bit to where there is a bit of munching to be done. It was the horse that gave this man's location away. Found out by a young boy, he asks for help as he needs food and water. The 'message' from this story was one of hope. This man felt he had no other recourse in life than to continue his life of ill-gotten gain because he committed the crime once when he was a young boy. It was that one failure that made him think he could never return to his father and brothers - never be forgiven of his 'criminal act'. Instead of confessing his failure, he gave into it as an 'inevitable way of life'. It made me wonder how many of us give into actions that we believe to be an 'inevitable way of life' for us just because we failed at some earlier point in our life?

Even though his 'hiding place' was a doggone good one, he was 'found out' by the actions of his horse! Try as we might, we can hide our sins as deeply as possible, but sometimes it is something quite out of our control that 'finds us out'. He hid in the crags of the rocks, but those crags were not sufficient to hide his horse - the 'means' by which he performed his criminal actions. We try to hide the guilt of our sin, but as long as the 'means' of our sin remains, we will be found out! We need to deal with both our guilt (produced by our wrong actions) and the means by which we are given 'license' to perform those wrong actions. The 'crags' of our own making are never sufficient to really deal with our sin. They will conceal for a while, but when our wounds get deep enough and our defenses are lowered a bit, we may just find they no longer conceal our sin as well as we had hoped they would. The lowered defenses will allow our discovery. We need God's sanctuary - the sanctuary of grace. The only real 'hiding place' should be in God's presence - not to hide our sins, but to allow them to be dealt with and forgiven totally.

Do you know the end of the story for that gentleman? He heard clearly that one action, wrong as it may have been, did not need to define him. It didn't need to declare his future. He could be free of those wrong actions. He just needed to turn away from them and return to his father. Most of the time we think our actions are unforgiveable, but they aren't. They just need to be confessed and brought into the presence of grace. Do you know what confession really is? It is us making a 180-degree turn AWAY from that sin. We do an 'about-face' and walk away from it. In order for this man to be free of his sin, he had to accept the grace extended to him. The townsfolk forgave him - making him free to return home for the first time in a long time. We may think we have no 'means' of return, only the 'means' to continue to sin. The opposite is truer than you may realize, for God's grace is the 'means' by which you may walk away from your past and into your renewed future. Just sayin! 

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