I’m not awesome, but God is!

No one wants to get sick, especially while traveling far from home. Recently I was traveling for work and came down with a cold at the start of the journey. The next morning not only did I have a cold, I had done something which caused severe pain in my lower back. Sitting, standing, sleeping, all had punishing consequences and I still had a job to do.

Two days later at the airport the journey home began with continued effects of a cold and back pain. During the security check, the officer informed me my carry-on toiletries would not fit into the required plastic bag for liquids. She then took the liberty of tossing my hair product into the trash. Very few times in my life have I ever felt “someone has it in for me”, but this was one of those times. She was mean-spirited, seemingly taking pleasure in giving people a hard time.

With a deep breath, I calmly explained that it was for me to decide which item should be thrown out, and kindly (in my best effort) asked for her to please remove the product from the trash and allow me to try to fit the items into the bag. She hesitated but then realized it was the right thing to do.

Moments later all of my stuff (barely) fit into the bag and I was on my way with shoes and belt off, passing through the scanner. Freedom, the other side!

Then an announcement: “Mr. Jon Harris please report to the security desk… Mr. Jon Harris please report to the security desk…”

Security then informed me that I left my credit card on the other side of the security control, and if I wanted the card I needed to go back with all of my belongings, retrieve the card and then go back through security again. Embarrassed with my mistake, and a little frustrated they couldn’t just pass the card through, I made my way back to the outside world.

This particular airport has a vending machine where all passengers pay a fee of 10 GBP (about $14) to use the airport. I left my card in this machine and unfortunately three other people used the machine after me and received “free” passes at my expense.

With card and luggage in hand, still embarrassed, it was time to go back through security. This time fortunately it was much easier and I was glad to give everyone a laugh at my expense.

In-flight due to my cold my ears had extreme pressure which caused pain as well as an inability to hear from one ear that evening. Upon arrival, a border patrol representative asked me a question and I had no idea what he was saying, partly because I couldn’t hear and partly because he was speaking Italian and wouldn’t speak English. After some back and forth, I realized he was asking my profession and I said “information systems” (in Italian) and he said, “ok go”, and that was it.

All of these stories are true and as I look back, I find it humorous and great to reflect on. First, the truth from Jesus:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

And the experiences of that trip brought some insights:

  1. I probably don’t need to travel with two bottles of cologne, and I probably care too much about my hair product.
  2. I make mistakes, daily.
  3. My body is prone to failure and as we age it seems to get worse.
  4. Mean behavior is hurtful and senseless. And I’m not any better than the mean security officer because in my heart, I had anger, judgement, and mean thoughts against her.

Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I am not awesome, BUT GOD IS!

““Who is like you among the gods, O Lord — glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?” (Exodus 15:11 NLT)

“Then I said, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,” (Nehemiah 1:5 NLT)

“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands.” (Daniel 9:4 NLT)

Today and every day let us be grateful for our awesome God and his son Jesus. In our failures and non-awesomeness, our sins are forgiven and we are cleansed when we repent in the name of Jesus Christ.

Advocate

Eighteen months ago we moved into a new home that didn’t have a microwave. This small and relatively inexpensive appliance is something we’ve historically found convenience in using on a daily basis: Warm chips and cheese are a family favorite, re-heating coffee is so easy, and we love warming up vegetables for a quick and healthy snack.

Initially we said we’d buy a microwave but we held off thinking maybe we didn’t need one right away. Over time, the microwave topic manifested into conversation about wants and needs and became a great lesson for us. There were similar wants/needs in the home that we also put on hold because we really started to question our motives and mindset.

In short, living without this convenience has helped shape our thoughts from “want” to “letting go”. As a family from a developed nation, we’re accustomed to so many things that we either think we deserve or often take for granted.

I wrote the following as I thought about wants/needs, being grateful for what we have, our attitude, eternity and the cross with Jesus as our advocate (today’s theme).

Earthly things. When will the wanting cease?
Blessings. Rescue. Mercy. Answered prayers. Am I grateful?
Flowers blooming, works of art abound. People starving. Ignorance is bliss.
Daily battles, eternity at stake.
Separation is deserved, but one name brings mercy and grace.
Jesus, our advocate.

Today’s verses:

Even now my witness is in heaven;
    my advocate is on high. (Job 16:19)

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (1 John 2:1)

Guard your heart

The freestyle “author’s choice” for daily scripture continues. Upon learning it was to be my choice the initial thought was excitement for the blank canvas then later it was “this is a serious choice and I have no idea… Lord, please give me something.” As the time grew closer to needing to write, no verses came to mind until…

While passing through airport security I overheard an officer reading an inscription on a piece of jewelry that had been left behind. It read:

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

It was beautiful. The public reading of scripture aloud in Chicago O’Hare International Airport. There were not many witnesses but I heard it and the words were powerful and refreshing. At the time I was making the long journey home from a business trip and missing my family, exhausted from many long days and nights of work.

Was it God’s plan for me to hear this? Was it His desire for me to write about it to you this week? While I’m not certain, I believe regardless that the public reading of scripture invokes the supernatural, it brings God’s living word into our souls at that very moment.

The verse seems to break down nicely into two parts, giving us instruction and the reason for the instruction:

  1. Guard your heart above all else, (Proverbs 4:23a)

What does it mean to “guard our hearts”? Some thoughts, starting with keeping our hearts fed with daily prayer and studying of scripture.

  • In the subsequent verses we are given additional examples/instruction that corresponds to guarding our heart which I’ve paraphrased:
    • Avoiding perverse talk (Proverbs 4:24)
    • Our eyes fixed clearly on the goal – Look straight ahead (Proverbs 4:25) Turning our hearts toward our creator God and savior Jesus Christ, who he is and what he has done for us.
    • Staying on a safe path (Proverbs 4:26) – Resisting temptation; fleeing from sin.
  • Yielding to God’s will especially in times of prosperity, whether personal, health  financial or just life in general. When everything is going great, it becomes easier to think “we’ve got this” rather than relying on God for everything.
  1. for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23b)

How does guarding our heart determine the course of our life?

As a recap from yesterday Jennifer shared a post on anxiety & Philippians 4:6-7 (references guarding our hearts). I already planned to write about guarding our hearts so not a coincidence, God is always at work!

We keep our hearts guarded by submitting to God in prayer (see Philippians 4:6) and as a result we receive the peace of God through and in Jesus:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

  • Witness; our actions are observed and often imitated by others. Being prepared for difficult conversation with people who may challenge our faith or who may need a word to guide them on their way toward salvation. As we acknowledge God, he makes our path straight.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:6)

  • Marriage; keeping our hearts pure for one another, keeping the commitment.
  • Career; serving those whom we are entrusted to lead strengthens our bonds and builds our teams.
  • Legacy; regardless of what we do, we leave a legacy behind us based on a lifetime of guarding (or not guarding) our hearts. Who will we influence and where will we influence them to?
  • Eternity; God wants our hearts. We choose the course of our life, toward or away from him. Where are our treasures and therefore our hearts today?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:2)

Rules are made to be _______.

Recently a portion of the massive wall that lines our street collapsed. It was sudden and unexpected and it caused some panic and disruption as well as a safety risk to passers by. Fortunately no one was injured.

Immediately following this event, the police came to assess the situation and then closed the street by placing signage to warn and inform, then fences as barricades to block the passage of vehicles.

While the street is narrow and just outside the city, it is fairly busy especially during the morning commute timeframe. Motorcycles, cars, buses, bicycles and walkers all wanting to reach their destinations. Closure of this road would cause a serious disruption, especially since it is a one-way street and there are other nearby road closures.

One thing we’ve observed about our community is that while there seems to be a lot of rules, the following and enforcement of rules is very lax.

After the police departed, it took maybe two minutes for people to simply move the barriers and drive on through.

Are you picturing big, strong, tough men jumping out out their pickup trucks to move the barricades and get on their way?

If not, then good, because the perpetrators of this crime are all shapes and sizes, men and women, driving little “beep beep” cars, motor scooters, and everything else. The problem with these barricades is that they are merely lightweight aluminum fences that can easily be moved.

The police continue to move the fences back to halt the traffic, but it is futile as motorists move the fences as soon as the police leave. The police are simply doing their job for the safety of the people, however the people continue to undermine the authority of the police and put themselves and others in danger.

In today’s reading on 1 Timothy 3-4, we find a set of rules and qualifications for leaders in the church and general guidance for followers of Jesus Christ. While reading these rules it is tempting to think that they are for someone else, some may think “behind the times”, or even good to follow “most of the time”. The thing is that these rules have a history and purpose and we need to remember:

  • He is God and he gets to make the rules.
  • His word doesn’t change no matter how many years have passed since he said it. The truth, His truth remains forever.
  • His rules were made because he loves us. They are for our best interest whether we like the rules or not.
  • His word and guidance for our lives is complete and without discrepancy. We cannot pick and choose which of his commands we should follow.

If you are a Christ follower that means people are watching and observing you. Some may want us to slip up so they can make an excuse “even Christians do this and that”. As we strive to withhold God’s teaching (or if we choose to disobey) we in turn will influence others to do the same; our families, friends, co-workers and any other observer in our lives.

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)

Truth, lies, livelihoods, lives

Recently an interview candidate shared some potentially incriminating historical information about himself and while on the surface it was negative, it left me with a greater feeling of trust toward the individual. Skill and personality are easier to identify, but trustworthiness is something more difficult to gauge. And no trust, no job.

The candidate “Lorenzo” (fake name to keep it private) had an engaging personality and possessed the necessary skills to perform the job. He was energetic and passionate and seemed like great fit for our company. The interview was going great!

Lorenzo then shared that he learned a foreign language through his experience at the school he attended. Inquiring further, I asked him what year he graduated and he said “I didn’t, they kicked me out!”

As Lorenzo continued to talk about his experience I realized the school that kicked him out happened to be the same school my kids attend. He didn’t realize this because he thought I resided elsewhere and he had very little information about me.

If Lorenzo would have lied about graduating I would have found out, and it would have been over for him. Instead, the situation gave me insights as to who this person is, and he earned further respect and trust. The truth set him free. The fact that Lorenzo made some life choices at the age of 15 (over 10 years ago) do not change the fact that he’s a highly skilled and likable individual.

In today’s reading Acts 4:32-5:11 we find two people who conspire to lie and it costs them their lives. One lie and they dropped dead on the spot. Yikes!

A few takeaways and thoughts about truth, lies and sin as we go about our day and pray for those who have not yet accepted the truth about Jesus:

  • God is serious about sin.
  • Lies are sinful and cause pain, distrust and even death.
  • We’ve all lied. Sin deems us guilty before our creator. This guilt demands punishment.
  • Jesus is the truth. One day will will stand before our creator (The Father) to give an account of all of our lies and other sins. On our own we cannot stand, but because Jesus already sacrificed himself as a penalty for our sin, we can then be deemed clean and forgiven. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
  • The truth (Jesus) sets us free. Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)

Scottish Granny Part II

On March 25th, 2016 the post “Scottish Granny” was published on this site. This was one of my favorite posts to author as it brought back so many fond memories and the relationship part of an epic God-authored story of friendship, love, loss, adventure and joy.

Since that post was published, the health of our dear friend Isabel Burns (Scottish Granny) had been on the decline. Unfortunately we had been unable to get any details about her condition, nor did we have any successful communication with each other. We learned that she was in a care facility, but for some reason she hadn’t been communicating with us, and we have been unable to reach her by phone.

A few months ago we decided we needed to make the trip to Edinburgh, Scotland to check in on Isabel in person. We found a time when the kids had a couple days off of school then booked flights and a hotel.

As the trip drew nearer, our longing for a reunion became stronger but we also began to worry as to whether or not we would be able to see her. Perhaps her health was in such a state that it would be “family only”. We couldn’t help but be concerned. What if she wasn’t even staying where we thought she was staying? How would we track her down?

Finally, it was time to embark on our journey. Upon arrival we dropped our luggage off at our hotel and immediately hopped on a bus to where we believed Isabel was staying. There was great anticipation, excitement and joy building up in our hearts. We would once again be reunited with this person who felt like family but yet we hadn’t heard from in over a year.

We prayed. If it is in your will God for us to see her, please clear any roadblocks, we know you can. You are in control. You are in every situation. If we cannot see her, please give us peace and understanding. This is yours Lord, please lead us.

We proceeded into the care facility and arrived at the front desk. We asked if we may see Isabel Burns and their response was positive, loving and kind. Of course we could! We were so relieved!!!

Upon arrival in Isabel’s room we had gladness to see her however it was immediately clear that that she was not well. It became clear as to why we hadn’t heard from her. While we do not know the reasons why, she wasn’t able to speak and it seemed her vision was minimal at best.

We made the most of our time (through multiple visits), telling stories of the old days, telling her we love her, and prayed for her. She seemed to indicate some responsiveness when we said things like “Amy from America”. We reminisced with a funny story about her bath towel at our house being used to clean up some paint (which wasn’t funny when it happened) and showed some emotion which made us all smile.

Amy fed Isabel her lunch as well as her afternoon tea and with each visit, as Isabel drifted off to sleep we felt it was time to leave.

In Luke 15 (today’s reading) there are three “lost and found” parables. The lost sheep, lost coin, and the prodigal son. Jesus used these parables to teach us how our Father God seeks relationship with us and longs for us to repent and turn back to him when we’ve sinned or gone astray.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

“It is the soul of man that especially bears God’s image.” (Matthew Henry’s commentary on Genesis 1:27)

Reflecting on Scottish Granny and how we longed to see her again, how we left with some joy in having visited, but with loss in knowing that even while physically close, she seemed very far away. I believe this longing is something that we are pre-programmed with as we were made in the image of God. He seeks us and we were made to seek Him, to seek relationship for the sake of eternity.

What stories in your life reflect Jesus’ call for a relationship with him and The Father, and how will you answer?

Everyone gets a seat at the table

In the post published March 3rd, 2019 titled “Clarity given, but faith needed to receive” I shared the story of how our family had planned to serve in Kenya with Goya Ministries. It turned out that our plans weren’t quite what God had in mind.

While we weren’t able to join that trip, we were able to start a relationship with the team who did go. Two of those team members, Roxanna “Roxy” Parker and Wendy Roberts recently stayed with us for a few days at our home in Florence, Italy.

The time spent with these two ladies was a tremendous blessing for our entire family. They cut and styled Amy’s hair, toured Tuscany with us, prayed with and for us, worshiped with us as we attended Eastview online, brought laughter and fulfilling conversation into our home, gave lots of love and attention to our boys who were delighted to have some “America” close by, and most importantly they filled Amy’s “spiritual jar” to the top and provided her with some much-needed girl time.

Our readers can now also benefit from their visit!

When I asked Roxy for some thoughts on today’s reading which is Mark 7:24-30, she promptly responded with words far more powerful than I could ever write. The Holy Spirit is definitely at work here. Thanks Roxy for sharing and for your obedience to His calling!

Here are Roxy’s words, unedited: 

From what I understand of Jesus, I think he may have been trying to test the woman. To remind her of where the world says her place was in society (“get in line, others come first”) and yet she answered back to remind him that even Jesus should know that the very least among us are still seen and are provided for by the Lord (* even the very dogs get the first fruits from the children that eat first in line) The verses share that he was impressed. I find it interesting that she impressed him. Why? Was it her recognition/self awareness of who she is? Or was it her faith? She states that there may be others that come first but the ones last are still fed, simultaneously, under the table of those who are being served first.

This story encourages me that when I feel small and insignificant, I can still remember that the Lord will provide for me exactly what I need even in the midst of what looks like a provision for someone else. Can I have that kind of faith?

To be confident in Jesus to supply my need (even if only a small crumb) instead of looking at how he is giving even more to someone else? I think that Jesus was impressed because she believed that even a crumb from Him would change her life forever. No need for a large helping or a first scoop.

What a challenge to humble myself and have faith like that when I’m tired, hungry or my self-worth looks a lot like last place instead of where I’d like it be: at the front of the line, getting recognized first. Yikes. That’s not an easy task. But I’m encouraged that in God’s economy, everyone gets a seat at the table.

This actually happened.

Have you ever doubted the story of Jonah and the great fish? Or rather than doubting, have you treated it like a Sunday school story for little children, never stopping to think about the significance, or whether or not it actually occurred?

It was only a few years ago that I confronted some internal struggles on this. A great fish swallowed a man. The man was in the fish for three days and three nights. The man came out alive. How could this be possible? Was it just a kids story or series of real miracles in human history?

I had accepted the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but questioned whether or not God could orchestrate something like what happened to Jonah, and I know I’m not alone in this.

But God…

After some wrestling with this story I came to accept it as truth based on my belief that God had performed many miracles before and after. I am merely a human with human understanding, but I’ve seen God move mountains in my own life, and no doubt he has done and will do infinitely more miracles more challenging than keeping a man alive inside a giant fish.

Going straight to the beginning of creation in Genesis 1: The same God who created the heavens and the earth, light, sky, oceans, land, plants, the sun, moon and stars, birds, fish, land animals and humans can 100% without a doubt enable a man to live inside of a fish for a few days. We cannot restrict God’s power to our human understanding or human experiences and perspectives.

Our God is a God of miracles and survival in the fish isn’t the only miracle in this book. Creation.com lists the following as miracles in the book of Jonah; not one miracle, but five:

  • ‘The Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest’ (Jonah 1:4),
  • ‘The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah’ (Jonah 1:17),
  • ‘The Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land’ (Jonah 2:10),
  • ‘The Lord God prepared a gourd [vine, NIV], and made it to come up over Jonah’ (Jonah 4:6),
  • ‘God prepared a worm…and it smote the gourd [chewed the vine, NIV] that it withered’ (Jonah 4:7),
  • ‘God prepared a vehement east wind…’ (Jonah 4:8).

Further, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ believed what happened to Jonah:

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)

So what’s the point?

The point is that God wants our attention and can use any means to reach us. Like Jonah, we often run or try to hide from God, but He seeks us because He loves us. He went through the greatest lengths possible in dying for us. Jesus Christ lived, and knowingly and willfully gave up his body to torture and a grueling death so that we can be saved.

The Bible says it. I believe it. Amen.

Seeking wisdom, seeking Christ

Today’s reading is all about the pursuit of wisdom, the benefits of wisdom as well as the ensuing disaster that comes from a lack of wisdom.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)

Two personal stories were shared with me during the time I was reading today’s chapters (Proverbs 2-4):

  1. A highly-skilled person with a world-class education was terminated from employment due to behavior that was detrimental to the team.
  2. Another person who was highly-skilled and integral to the success of an extremely important business made some very selfish choices therefore put the company at risk.

Both of these scenarios had nothing to do with the person’s skill or even their passion for the job. The results were due to a lack of wisdom.

Jennifer wrote about Phinehas yesterday and the first thing that came to mind upon reading her post: Phinehas was wise and had he not been wise, it would have been really, really bad for a lot of people.

Similar for us today, we need wisdom, we need Jesus. In our schools, churches, government and most importantly in our homes as it starts with us seeking wisdom through Christ. We suffer from a lack of wisdom in others and our own as well. Please take the time to read today’s chapters, they are fascinating and filled with God’s truth and wisdom.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3)

My own faith has strengthened from reading today’s chapters and writing the lists below because it becomes clearer how true God’s word is. I know the peace and joy of wisdom, and unfortunately have experienced too much pain from a lack of wisdom in myself or others.

Summary of the benefits of wisdom from Proverbs 2-4:

  • Understanding the fear of the Lord. 2:5
  • Knowledge 2:5-6
  • Understanding 2:6, 4:7
  • Success 2:7
  • Protection 2:8, 4:6
  • Discernment 2:9
  • A pleasant soul 2:10
  • Keeping existing assets (remaining in the land) 2:21
  • Prolong life, long life 3:2, 16, 4:10
  • Peace 3:2, 17
  • Prosperity 3:2, 10
  • Win favor & a good name 3:3
  • Keep a straight path 3:6
  • Health 3:8, 4:22
  • Nourishment 3:8
  • Discipline 3:12
  • High return on investment 3:14
  • Long life 3:16
  • Riches 3:16
  • Honor 3:16, 35, 4:8
  • Blessings 3:18, 33
  • Life 3:22, 4:4, 22
  • Safety 3:23
  • Fearlessness 3:24, 25
  • Sweet sleep 3:24
  • Held in confidence by God 3:32
  • Shown favor 3:34
  • Exaltation 4:8
  • Crowned 4:9
  • Run without stumbling 4:12
  • Path like the morning sun 4:18

Implications of a lack of wisdom from Proverbs 2-4:

  • Wickedness 2:12
  • Perversion 2:12
  • Darkness 2:13
  • Evil 2:14
  • Adultery 2:16
  • Death 2:18
  • Damnation 2:19
  • Lose assets (cut off from the land) 2:22
  • Detested 3:32
  • Cursed 3:33
  • Mocked 3:34
  • Shame 3:35
  • Deep darkness 4:19

Father God, your are holy and perfect and all wisdom comes from you!  We repent for our lack of wisdom, for our sins which lead to brokenness, for times of relying on our own understanding instead of seeking you first. We beg of your forgiveness. We ask for healing in situations where unwise choices of others have hurt us or the ones we love. We ask you to intervene in the lives of those who do not yet know you or acknowledge Jesus as their savior. Show them the way. Open our mouths to speak to the lost. Open our hearts to love the lost. Please grant us wisdom. We thank you in advance because we know you want us to seek wisdom and you want to give this to us. In the name of your son Jesus Christ, amen.

Man-ass-eh? But God still loves us.

Dear Readers,

This post was primarily authored on September 11th, 2019 from approximately 30,000 feet in the air. My thoughts from the beginning of today have been consumed by the tragedies that occurred on 9/11/2001. Those of us who witnessed these events unfolding will never forget this day that changed our lives forever.

For the first time in my recollection on the hundreds of flights I’ve taken, the captain (instead of a flight attendant) of the plane made the verbal welcoming announcement in person from the main cabin (outside of the cockpit). He didn’t mention 9/11/2001, but his tone was passionate and warm, and his face was serious as he made eye contact with many of the passengers. He welcomed us aboard in subtle remembrance and it was moving.

The tragic events of what is now known as “Patriot Day” brought collaborative evil terrorist schemes to light which included mass murder, complete devastation, horror, shock, loss, fear, pain and deep mourning.

Further, the leaders behind these events used this as a way to encourage additional terrorism in the future. This reminds me of Manasseh in our reading today which is 2 Chronicles 33:1-20.

Manasseh was a wicked king committing idolatry, sorcery and like the aforementioned terrorists, leading his people astray to do evil. He even went so far as to do the unimaginable: He burned his sons as an offering.

How does God respond to our disobedience?

One way is that he tries to communicate with us.

The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, (2 Chronicles 33:10a)

This chapter doesn’t say how or what The Lord said to Manasseh and his people so let’s consider ways he tries to communicate to us today. Through his Holy Spirit whispering into our souls, through his marvelous works such as providing daily sustenance (oxygen, food, water), showing us the glory of a new sunrise and sunset, wildlife, mountains, forests, and the oceans along with the billions of inhabitants living there as part of the circle of life. Through performing countless miracles that we either notice or take for granted. Through his living word in The Bible conveying the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We should pay attention and be grateful for the many clues and ways he seeks relationship with us.

but they paid no attention. (2 Chronicles 33:10b)

Manasseh provokes God’s anger.

Eventually God got Manasseh’s attention in a most undesirable way.

Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. (2 Chronicles 33:11)

Manasseh repents.

And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. (2 Chronicles 33:12)

Manasseh lived such a life of defiance, it is interesting that he actually repents. A true atheist wouldn’t beg for God’s forgiveness right? This tells me that somewhere in Manasseh’s heart, he knew God all along.

He knew who his creator was. He knew the God of his ancestors was true. He had a compass, he knew right from wrong. Being made king at age twelve, much had been given to him, yet his selfishness and hatred drove his life up to this point.

God listens and responds.

The shocking yet beautiful result is that God was moved by Manasseh’s humility and forgives him, just like he forgives us when we truly repent and turn from our sins. This guy was the worst, but God forgave him! Note that this repentance was pure; not one of those fake repentances where one begs for help, gets rescued, then goes back to the same ways.

Like Manasseh, no matter how great our sins, we can be forgiven. It doesn’t make earthly sense but it is God’s perfect eternal equation. Sin = death. Repentance + Jesus = life.

Similar to remembrance of the events of 9/11/2001, holding this history close to our hearts, we must never forget God’s love for us. How Jesus surrendered his life for us. How our prior sins must not define us, but who we are in Christ, a new creation, washed clean.

May we repent and live new lives like Manasseh, being known for the change that can only point to a life defined as living for our God: creator, friend, and deliverer.