My God! My God! Why Did You Leave Me?!

I see a man upon a cross, my stomach churns in agony.  Who is this man?  What did he do?  Why would God allow him to endure this pain?

I ask among the crowd, I see hate in their faces.  Why do these people hate this man so much?  They yell insults and spit upon his face.  What he did must be awful, he must be a horrible man.

I see a crown of thorns upon his head, I see a sign nailed to the cross.  “King of the Jews.”  I become desperate, my questions turn to pleas.

I see a man upon a cross, he cries out in agony, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (Which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

He had been beaten beyond recognition, nails pierced his hands and feet, he hung fighting for his last torturing breath, and yet all his pain was in the separation.  Why?!  Why would his God forsake him?  What reason could he have?  When at his hour of suffering, why would his God leave him?

And then I knew the answer.  ME!  My God!  Why would you forsake him?  FOR ME!  Why would you let him bear this cross?  FOR ME!  Why would you let this perfect man live the most painful life ever endured?  FOR ME!  Why would you leave him when you have been with him for all of eternity past?  FOR ME!

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?  FOR ME!

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Satan’s Greatest Lie is That Sin Keeps Christians From God

What is the barrier between us and anything of value?  THE PRICE. I see an expensive, designer made, sparkley, super hot shirt hanging in the mall, what keeps it from being mine?  PAYING THE PRICE.  My girl drools over the newest Build A Bear addition, why can’t she just walk away with it?  THE PRICE MUST BE PAID. A brand new house stands on a ten acre lot, upgrades throughout, marble entry, fountain into the pool, detached five car garage. Sitting there waiting, just waiting for someone to move in and make it a home. Everyone wants it, everyone loves it. What will it take?  PAYING THE PRICE. 

One beautiful summer day, I changed my girl into her swim suit, packed some essentials and we headed to a local water spot. The city designed a long flight of stairs in the middle of the city with water flowing over them. On a hot day in July, hundreds of children gather and splash and play. Slip on sunglasses, lather sunscreen, playing commences. After the initial energy is used up, I spread a towel for Madison to sit beside me. I pull out two lunches and we have a little picnic. And then for the grand finale, a Tootsie Pop appears. Shouts of glee and happiness follow. This is her version of the perfect moment. The lollipop is popped into her mouth. But then, all of the sudden, from the throng of children, a face appears.  “I want a sucker.”  The voice demands.  I understand childhood plees and respond, “Oh sorry sweetheart. That is the only one.”  I am a bit shocked with the tantrum and stamped feet that march away complaining. Now, without going too far with my imperfect analogy, there are two things that I want to point out. One, the treat belonged to this certain child because she was my child. I did not scan the audience for the best behaved child. I did not look for the hungriest child. I handed it to MY child. I had prepared that surprise in advance for MY child. Secondly, the Bible tells us to be like children. CHILDREN ACCEPT. When Madison saw me pull out that tootsie pop, it was her’s. She did not say, “Mom, let me first earn this.  Watch me be kind to all the children here and then you can give it to me.”  She did not say, “Wait. I can pay for this. Let’s go home and get the money out of my piggy bank.”  NO!  She took it and enjoyed it as a gift.  

Now. I love my girl. I love my daughter no matter what. Why do I love her?  Because she is mine!  She can make perfect grades, be a sweet friend, give her all in sports, and sleep in on Saturdays and I will love her. She can struggle and flop out of school, be selfish, unkind, lack ambition, wake me up at 4 am, and spill my coffee and SHE WILL STILL BE MY DAUGHTER AND I WILL STILL LOVE HER!

THE PRICE IS PAID!  Christians, we are God’s children. If we sin, it hurts us in the here and now but as far as God is concerned, IT IS IRRELEVANT TO HIS LOVE FOR US AND HIS FATHERHOOD. WE ARE HIS CHILDREN. NO SIN CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF OUR FATHER!

The world knows “Christians” by people who don’t cuss, don’t drink, does not wear certain clothes, and judges everyone else who does. 

NO!  Believers in Christ screw up just as much as everyone else!  THE AMOUNT OF SINNING IS IRRELEVANT TO BEING A CHILD OF GOD!  Can I say that again so the non-believers will say, “Say what?!” And so that the believers can breathe a sigh of relief, THE AMOUNT OF SINNING IS IRRELEVANT TO BEING A CHILD OF GOD. The only difference in a Christian is that they realize they sin and that they need Jesus. In fact, Christians can be the biggest sinners there are!  Look at the people that followed Jesus!  They were sinners, big ones, like prostitutes and swindlers!  

Christian, THE PRICE IS PAID!  YOU ARE FREE!  THE DEBT IS PAID!  THE TOOTSIE POP IS YOURS!  All you have to do is ENJOY it!

The Man I Murdered

My hands. They were my hands. Elbows bent at a ninety degree angle, hands turned palms up and fingers spread. Staring, staring, I could not return them to my body, it would be admitting they were mine. These hands, these blood soaked hands, I wanted no part of them.

How? I did not mean to, but I did. I felt dizzy. My head swirled.

I fell upon my knees, staring at my bloody hands.

I AM A MURDERER!

“Murderer, murderer,” repeated in my mind.

There was no lack of proof. There was a body, there were witnesses, there was a motive, and blood upon my hands.

Remembering the act, I yelled out in agony, I did it. Murderer. I murdered a man.

His eyes. I can not get his eyes out of my head. There was something about them I could not stand. They tortured me. I murdered him.

The last thing I remember is taking a spear and pushing it into his side. A mixture of blood and water poured out, flowing down the spear to my hands. Blood and water, that was even worse than pure blood. I had broken his heart.

Then it all rushed back, I remembered the act, I remembered the gruesome details. I whipped him, his back tearing and ripping, splattering blood upon my face. But he still looked at me, he looked at me with his eyes. I wanted him to curse me, but he just seemed to stare right through me, which enraged me all the more. I took the hammer and I took the spikes.

I placed the nail upon his wrist, and then I did it. I hammered through his skin. He never looked away. He gazed at me with his eyes. And I continued, with rage, I hammered a spike through his ankles.

I nailed him. I nailed him to a cross. He hung there, his eyes fixed on me. His eyes.

He called out to God. But did God answer him?

I mocked him as he hung in agony and torture and torment. I had never seen a man suffer so much. There was something more than the nails that held him there and there was something more painful than his gasps for breath. His eyes, I wanted him to hate, to yell, to give into the pain.

And when darkness rolled in, his eyes fixed one last time on me. What was it about his eyes? Why did they torture me so.

With his dying breath, his eyes pierced my heart. It was LOVE. As I whipped him, as I nailed him, as I mocked him, he loved me.

I grabbed the spear in one last hateful attempt, even after I knew he was dead, I stabbed him.

Then the blood and the water flowed. Then I saw his broken heart and then I stared at my hands and fell upon my knees.

“JESUS!” I called out, with something louder than words, I called with my heart.

“I am a murderer. Sorry! I am so sorry!”

I murdered the one I love. I murdered the only one that had ever loved me.

Hell. I would go to hell. I took my bloody hands, I accepted my deserved fate and I covered my shamed face with my bloody hands.

Two warm hands touched my bloody hands.

In a demonic voice, I yelled out, “Do not touch me! I am a murderer!”

I looked up and I saw, I saw those eyes. He is alive! I saw the scars on his hands! I saw the scar on his side! I saw his forgiving eyes!

His touch on my hands removed the blood, he cleansed me, he made me clean.

The man I murdered has forgiven me.

Self Condemnation

There are things that I have regretted in my life, things I still regret.  If I could go back and change something, would I?  YES, I would change a lot.  I have had that immense, deep hurt in my heart for things that I have done or not done that I should have.  But, I have never killed anyone.

The Apostle Paul was a dedicated persecutor of Christians.  He hated them to the point of murder.  He was young and watched when Stephen was stoned to death for following Jesus.  You can call me a wimp, but I hide my eyes during violence in movies, I can not fathom what it does to someone to watch someone else being stoned to death.  It is evil.  That is all I can say.  Paul continued his education as a Pharisee and grows to despise followers of Christ.  He does all he can to have them put to death in an attempt to eliminate them all.  He hates them so much that he travels to seek out christians to kill them.  And then.  He changes.  He becomes a follower of Jesus himself.

Endless, immeasurable regret.  The faces of those that he murdered playing over and over in his head.  The anguish that Paul must have lived with.  Or did he?

“There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.”  Those are the words of Paul.

Do you have regret in your life?  Have you murdered masses of people?  Paul did.  And he learned the meaning of true forgiveness.