Who Do You Run To (and what do you say when you get there)?
May 6, 2008 § 1 Comment
For some reason the suicide death of DC Madame Deborah Jean Palfrey has left an impact – one I mentioned in the pulpit on Sunday morning – I was struck by how in the end, all the ‘success,’ power, public acclaim and money failed her. Since that time it has been revealed that she left a note to her mom and sister. Sadly, her note was a mere explanation as to why she would take her life.
With tragic logic she explained that she needed to end her life because the alternative was “only to come out of prison in my late 50s a broken, penniless and very much alone woman.”
Yesterday I sent out a letter to a young man who just turned 16. His mother (her name is Carmen and his name is Daniel – both are pictured below) asked for words from people she trusted with the hope that together would provide what she termed his ‘Circle of Wisdom.’ She is an amazing single Mom and has raised a fine boy who now enters into early manhood, a Christ-follower with gifts, personality and a foundation that will take him far.
In the letter I sent I wrote these words:
The first thing I want to sort of etch on your mind and heart, something for you to never forget and always return to, is that you are valued and adored by God. The moment Jesus died for you He proved, beyond a doubt, that God is willing to give everything up for you. I know that you are going to have moments of doubt and even rebellion in your life. Why? Because you are a human with all the weak places and flaws that all of us possess. So this isn’t for you to have in order to remain perfect – it is for you to cling to because you aren’t. It is the assurance that you will always have the Lord to look to, to run to, to return to and to cling to – that His love is for imperfect, broken and messy people like you and me. Put another way, He will always be there. He will always be there for you, friend. He will never be absent when you call on Him. He will always be ready and eager to receive you, to forgive you, to renew you and to pick you up. I want you to remember this! As a pastor of 25 years I have met too many people who thought that they had gone too far for God to ever want or love them again – but that is simply not true. He will always be there – He adores you – His reach will always be longer than the deepest hole you find yourself in – You are His and His delight is in you.
The question is, when the world crashes in and hope seems dim, who do you run to? And then, when you get there, what do you say?
Following Jesus doesn’t always mean that we will follow close behind – the fact is that we are quite adept at digging holes that cause us to lose sight of our Friend and Savior. Life has a way of catching up to us. Sins bite in and clench tightly. Regrets paralyze and shame enslaves.
I used to live in the prison of guilt – thinking that when I have sinned that is a sure sign that God probably doesn’t like me any more. But I have learned that those moments of discovery – where I realize that I have wandered far from ‘home’ – that those moments are defining ones because they reveal where home is and they determine where I will run when I come to my ‘senses’ (Luke 15:17). If nothing else (though there is much more), the beautiful good news of the Gospel is that in Jesus I have someone to flee to – even if it is just to say, ‘I’m sorry.’
So the issue is not whether or not we will live perfectly in this imperfect world and skin – it is whether or not we enjoy a relationship of love and dependence on the Perfect One whose delight has already been proven with His own life.