Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
July 8, 2012
Love means never giving up on someone
My friend Bob made a lot of wrong choices as he was growing up. As a high school student he ignored the curfew set by his parents, often coming home late at night “drunk as a hoot owl.”
You may think that Bob’s father reacted strangely to his son’s wayward behavior. He never responded with anger or chastisement. Instead, no matter how late Bob stayed out at night, he always found his father fully dressed, sitting in a chair waiting for him to come home.
“When I came in, sometimes staggering, Dad never dressed me down,” Bob said. “He simply helped me to bed, always patting me on the back as he said calmly, ‘you’ll be a fine man one day, son.’”
He was right. One day Bob quit running from God, gave up drinking, and was profoundly converted. More than a fine man, Bob became a new man in Christ. He went on to college, finished seminary and became an excellent teacher of the Christian faith.
Bob ought to understand the gospel. He experienced it. His own father introduced him to the God who never gives up on his children despite their wrong choices. I tremble with joy every time I hear Bob share his story. It underscores for me the true nature of God. He is the God of second chances.
Sin leads inexorably to suffering. When we insist on having our own way, defiantly refusing to obey God, we are on the pathway to suffering. None of us can get away with mocking God. He allows us to reap what we sow, to experience the pain of disobedience. We cannot break covenant with God without suffering the sad consequences he permits.
The Israelites of the Bible are a good example. They refused to put God first. They embraced pagan gods. They mocked the prophets God sent to turn them from their wicked ways. They scoffed at the goodness of God until finally they had to endure the wrath of God. The Chaldeans were allowed to be the instruments of God’s wrath.
Grief accompanies suffering. The Judahites were overwhelmed with sadness because of the exile. They sat down by the riverside and wept bitter tears, unable to “sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land.” Their harps collected dust while they mourned for their loss. They only realized how much Jerusalem, the holy city, meant to them after they had lost it. How true that remains for us today!
When we are engulfed by the consequences of our own wrong choices, we can sit down and weep – or we can learn some valuable lessons about ourselves and God. When we scoff at the moral laws of God, we are spitting into the wind! We are sliding down the banisters of life with all the splinters pointed at us! When we break God’s commandments we are really breaking ourselves! Would to God that the pain of our sins could teach us once and for all that life will work in only one way and that is the way of the Lord!
When we are suffering, as the result of our behavior, nothing can cheer us more than the good news of the gospel. The good news is that while we were still sinners, God showed his love for us by letting Jesus die for our sins. The good news is that God never stops loving us! He never gives up on his children.
Wise parents allow their children to suffer the consequences of their behavior but they never stop loving them. Even when they come in late at night drunk, loving parents will offer them a second chance, and a third, and a fourth, to get it right!
Hard times, brought on by my own wrong choices, have taught me repeatedly that I cannot mock God without suffering severe consequences. It was during such hard times that I begged for mercy, turned from my wicked ways, and went running to my Father – always sure that he was ready to give me another chance to get my life right!
Today we who love Christ have no greater joy than to tell those who are running from God by mocking all that is pure, noble and true that God will never give up on them. His transforming love awaits their turning to him for a second chance! + + +