It was awesome hanging out with the gang I met at YWAM in Oxford, New Zealand a few years back even though none of us currently work there. I had the honor of officiating a wedding in Columbus, Indiana this past Sunday which brought a few of us together.
The bride and groom, Kim and Wilfred, are moving to New Zealand to start life together, but I doubt they’re getting back into YWAM just yet either. After the festivities, Joseph Watson and I managed to catch a ride to Nashville with a girl we met there named Stephanie. I was driving her car as we pulled onto southbound I-65 and Joseph piped up, “If those are not the most important moments in life and always worth making happen, I don’t know what are.” I couldn’t agree more.
I plan on being here in Nashville, TN until Saturday when I fly back to Kona. After living and working here for about 10 years cumulatively, it’s a home away from home. My friend of about 35 years, Don, and I spent a couple hours earlier this afternoon walking around Costco shopping for groceries for his family of 10. We talked about everything-family, sin, money, and the character of God as he loaded up the cart.
When we do something bad and don’t pay the earthly consequences for it, it’s easy to imagine the worst impending doom we can think up and put ourselves through hell to somehow pay the dues we think our sin deserves. The wages of sin is death… yes, true, but most of the time, here on earth, let’s be honest, God doesn’t pay us back as our sins deserve. It actually makes sense and matches what scripture says about Him. David says that no one is righteous and asks not to be brought into judgement, so why do we want to be slammed when we mess up? Not a single one of us is righteous enough to be save himself anyway. So forgiveness is very “all or nothing”. We are either forgiven for every sin, past present, and future or none at all. It doesn’t make any sense or have any power if it’s sometimes and maybe.
What happens when we blow it? The demon comes and whispers that we are and have always been failures, deserve nothing but punishment, and the gospel means nothing. Fear tactics. The more fear we live in, the less we move out to the next thing because after all, we don’t deserve to have or do anything better. Believing this, we can sit and wait for judgement that never comes; condemned. So we make decisions in a sort of paralyzed, hesitant, double-minded, fearful state. The Psalms tell us,
“The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.”
So why is it hard to act like that’s a reality?
Martin Luther said this about his time of trying to count and account for his sins, always feeling guilty and overwhelmed with the task of making up for and confessing each one.
”I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made of him the jailer and hangman of my poor soul.”
Once he got his right place sorted out with God, he outran that fear and wrote the 95 Theses.
So, what to do?
Walk “as if” we are forgiven and victorious over the failures of the past because that’s Reality.
One of the verses the groom chose to have read at the wedding was this:
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
1 John 4:18
It’s all connected to the fear of failure. My Mom, two youngest sisters, and I were having lunch in Michigan the other day marveling about the founders of our country and how smart they were. We started looking up quotes by Ben Franklin. I came across one I hadn’t heard before:
“Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.”
What is life without taking risks anyway?
I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?