Friday, April 1, 2011

Illegal U-Turns of Life

I was lost. I was north of Dallas trying to find my cousin’s house at 12:30 pm at night after driving from Little Rock and I was lost! Now, in South Dakota, we have a system with our roads: the numbers either increase or decrease as you go east, west, north or south on country roads with the exception for a few random road names like “Greenfield” or “University.” Texas, on the other hand, must like to see out-of-staters squirm because there was no way I was going to be able to locate the road I needed to turn on due to the sporadic numbering system! I couldn’t tell which direction was east, west, north or south and to top it off, my dear boyfriend was indeed food poisoned just prior to our departure and needed me to pull over frequently. Can you imagine the scene? It’s somewhat comical now but I recall those moments as being nothing shy of miserable! I sensed that we were going in the wrong direction and so what do I do? I go through the intersection, look ahead and behind to see if traffic is coming from either direction and do a U-turn. As I am returning to the same intersection I was driving through moments before, Kory, bless his patient heart, says “Ah, Joni, not trying to freak you out but you may get pulled over, there’s a cop ahead of us that just pulled into the parking lot to turn around.” I immediately went into that panic mode: you know the “OH NO!” I feel like no matter how many tickets you get or how old you are, you get that 14-year-old-driver fear of, I am going to get my freedom taking away! They’re going to take my license! My palms got sweaty, my heart raced for a few moments and sure enough, the Cop switched on the blue lights and I pulled over. He came over and asked the standard question, “Ma’m, do you know why I pulled you over? Back on that last road you were on, you performed an illegal U-Turn, did you see the sign” I honestly had not seen the sign and replied with a “No, sir, I didn’t, I’m sorry.” He proceeded to see my license and registration. (Meanwhile, Kory is turning all shades of green).

The officer went back to his car ran my license and came back a few minutes later. “Well ma’m I am only going to give you a warning tonight, here’s a copy, just be careful.” I was so relieved and then I proceeded to ask, “Sir, I am so lost, is there any way you could give me directions to the golf course?” Ha, oh goodness, we finally got to my cousin’s but what a night!

My reasoning behind sharing this story is that, I was listening to a message on the topic of obedience to the law from a passage of scripture found in Romans 7 and 8 and I immediately was drawn back to that night and saw some correlation between the Laws related to driving and the Law of scripture.

Let’s read it together:

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.

(continuing into chapter 8)

Life Through the Spirit 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[f] And by him we cry, “Abba,[g] Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." NIV

What an amazing passage of scripture, amen? As I was just rereading it, I was able to draw a few parallels with real life story of getting pulled over. Typically, if you break the law—knowingly or unknowingly, you deserve a ticket for breaking that particular law. With that ticket comes a fine. This maybe a stretch, but try and use the story as an analogy with this passage: imagine that when you got pulled over, you were guaranteed to never have to pay the fine with the violation completely removed from your record.

You may still get pulled over for breaking the law, but the violation was immediately forgiven and paid by another person: Christ. Now, you could go through life, let’s say, not a believer and work really hard at not getting pulled over but what if you came to a different state, like me, and unknowingly broke the law? You’re still guilty of breaking the law! Whether you know it or not, you’re guilty. Similarly, no matter how wonderful our ‘driving skills’ in life maybe, we are still guilty of sin! And there is no way that we have what it takes to pay the debt of that sin in our lives, but through Christ, we have been set free from the fines of the law and have been forgiven. Now Paul will go on an describe the concept of “having the license to sin?” By no means! No we should desire to abide by the law even more because we know that Christ is going to have to pay for that sin each and every time we ‘get pulled over.’ But when we do, we can rest assure and say, “I am free!” And we praise God for his grace through our faith in Christ Jesus.

Although it may seem somewhat an elementary analogy to the magnificent mystery of salvation through Jesus Christ, I hope that you can approach today in light of knowing that you are free from condemnation through faith in Christ Jesus, and that when you’ve established a committed relationship with Him, he will forgive both your intentional and ‘unintentional’ sins---paying for your ticket on the Cross of Calvary.

1 comment:

  1. Great analogy, Joni!
    And it doesn't matter how long you've walked by faith; there are moments that we lapse in judgement, discernment, etc. It's a good thing that those moments do come fewer and fewer as the years mount. :-)