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Handling Life's Problems

Run to the Father

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24)

I’ll never forget the first time I learned about leeches.

I was eight years old, happily playing in a creek near our campsite. When I came out, I noticed something horrible had attached itself to my leg. I couldn’t brush it off. I couldn’t pull it off. What was this terrible creature, and who could free me from it?

I may have been just a kid, but I knew what to do—I ran screaming to my father. He told me it was a leech, sucking blood out of my body—worse than I had imagined! Then my dad lit a match and touched the leech with it. The leech let go and I was delivered from its clutches.

When I couldn’t get myself free, I ran to my father. One touch, and I was delivered.

I was about eight years old when I learned I had a problem much more serious than a leech—I figured out I was a sinner. I knew I couldn’t fix this on my own. Who could free me from the consequences and bondage of sin and death?

I may have been just a kid, but I knew what to do. I ran to my heavenly Father. I knelt at an altar and poured my heart out to my Father. I found the forgiveness and deliverance I needed.

Running to God is always the right thing to do. Sometimes, as we grow up, we seem to get dumber instead of wiser. Sometimes, we run away from our Father.

Jonah ran away from God and ended up swallowed by a giant fish (Jonah 1:3). The prodigal son ran away from his father and ended up sleeping with the pigs (Luke 15:11-32).

We’re really no better than the prodigal son or Jonah. God says move. We want to stay where it’s comfortable. God says stay still. We want a change of scenery. We think our plans are better than God’s plans, and we find ourselves running away from God instead of running to him. Our sinful nature pushes us to want our own way and to turn away from the Father.

I knew what to do when I had a leech on my leg—I ran to my father. Do we know what to do about the sin in our lives? What do we do when we’re angry, unforgiving, selfish, or mean? Who can set us free from the bondage of sin? What in the world do we do? We must run to our Father!

Anytime you’re not sure what your next move should be, try running into the arms of your heavenly Father. Matthew 11:28 invites us to run to him: “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.”  Running to your Father is never a bad choice. He will ease your burden and refresh your soul. He will forgive your sins. He will be your oasis in a dry, barren land.

Dear Father, you have given me so much. May I run to you often. When I run to you, I find forgiveness for my sin, a strong hand to carry my burdens, and refreshment for my soul. I love you. Thank you for loving me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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grace

Glorious Grace

“But God still loved us with such great love. He is so rich in compassion and mercy. Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, he united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by his wonderful grace! (Ephesians 2:4-5)

I am not naturally a good person. Nobody, by nature, is good. Sure, we try to make ourselves think we are good compared to the “bad people” we see around us. We have an unrealistic view of our goodness, like a drove of pigs in a filthy pigpen comparing themselves to each other and feeling clean because some other pig is dirtier.

Psalm 36:1-2 says, “They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are.” When we think we’re pretty good, we’re still wicked at heart. The money we give to the homeless doesn’t change it. Working with underprivileged children doesn’t change it. No effort of our own can make us “good.”

 “You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil …All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature…” (Ephesians 2:2-3). Two forces push us toward sin—the influence of the devil and our own natural inclinations.

Whether we make a wreck of our lives, leaving pain and problems everywhere we turn, or live so-called moral lives, making good decisions and helping other people, we are still tainted by sinfulness.  Unless we turn to God it doesn’t matter if we live a “bad” life or a “good” life. Either way, we are spiritually dead, headed for trouble in this life and doom in the next. Nothing we do on our own remedies our plight.

We are born with terminal sinfulness. That’s the bad news. The good news is—there’s a cure.

Ephesians 2:4 begins, “But God…” Don’t you love those two words? But God…did not leave us spiritually dead and doomed in our sin.

In his book, “Ephesians for You,” Richard Coekin gives this illustration of our dramatic rescue:

Imagine yourself as a decaying corpse…trussed up in chains inside a coffin…headed inexorably to the flames of the crematorium. Suddenly, as your coffin is engulfed by flames, someone leaps into the flames, smashes open the coffin, and despite the horrific burns that scar him forever, retrieves your corpse, breathes life into your body, washes you and clothes you in his own clothes, tenderly carries you to his chauffeur-driven Bentley and takes you home to his father’s presidential palace to stay in his rooms and feast at his table, enjoying the hospitality of his father forever.

That’s our story—the story of glorious grace. Those of us who have been so gloriously rescued should never view it as mundane or ordinary. We should never live a day without expressing sincere gratitude for what God did for us. I am so humbled and thankful for his grace. Isn’t it absolutely glorious?

Heavenly Father, I cannot express how thankful I am for your glorious grace. Forgive me for any time I thought I was good enough on my own. I know that my so-called righteousness is like filthy rags in your sight. I didn’t deserve your love and mercy, but you wrapped me in them anyway. Your grace still amazes me. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

(Today’s Reading: Ephesians 2:1-6)