Month: November 2018

Help ! I’m Stuck

truck stuck rt 202

On Route 202, down the road from our house, there’s  an underpass under the New Jersey Transit tracks. (It’s a few miles south from the underpass you see in the picture.) Recently a truck got stuck right in the middle of rush hour. The unfortunate driver did not first compare the height of his vehicle versus the number on the overpass sign. The mortified driver caused a traffic tie-up until the police let some air out of his tires to free him.

This leads us to today’s quote from Jesus.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?  For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,  saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ (Luke 14:28-30)

Now, sometimes you hear people say that Jesus guarantees a life of health and prosperity.  But coming to Christ  is not costless. It’s false to say that believing in Jesus guarantees us our best life now.

The writer of Amazing Grace has it perfectly :

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

Contemplating the stanza, we see how Jesus’ cost is well worth paying. Yes, on life’s way we face dangers, toils, and snares. But Jesus safely sustains and guides us, giving us a final home with him.

Even though we have determined to do our best for Christ, we are not immune to bad choices and misjudgments. Too often we get stuck in our own life underpasses.

But each time that happens, our patient Lord loves us too much to leave us there. As we repent,  he lets the air out of our overinflated opinion of ourselves. Once more forgiven, we are able to roll on forward with Jesus again !

When Does Jesus contradict me?

I think Jesus likes to contradict me both when I think too highly of myself and when I think too lowly of myself.

First, I’ll give you an example of each from scripture and then explain how it might apply to us.

In John 4, Jesus meets a woman at the well who thinks  too lowly of herself. Due to her messed up personal life with multiple divorces,  she is viewed locally as a low life. Plus, being a member of an outcast ethnic group, she was shocked that Jesus would even bother talking to her.

 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) (John 4:9)

Jesus regards her as full of worth and dignity, and dialogs with her anyway.

Now meet the Pharisees, who thought too highly of themselves. When Jesus confronts them in John 8, their attitude is : How dare you challenge our beliefs ! We are always right ! Jesus  is not as mellow with them as he was with the woman at the well —  indeed in  John 8:44  he goes so far as to say they are listening to their  father, the devil.

Do you see yourself in either of these categories? I see how both of these can and do happen in my life. So when I sin or err and  beat myself up and feel like a worthless piece of filth, that’s the “too low.”  Jesus contradicts me :You are a new creation. You are a forgiven man who has life and worth from me.

It’s easy to cheer for Jesus  being especially stern to those  hard-heartedly closed Pharisees.  We may even pat ourselves on the back for not being like them.  But sometimes that hard-heartedness sneaks into us.

Here’s how : Someone confronts me  about something wrong I said or did and they are spot on— but my first reaction is to think: How dare they say that to me?  I know I am in the right ! Now I am thinking too highly of myself.

I’m glad we have a merciful God. I need to do one thing that the Pharisees refused to do : when I am in the wrong, I quickly need to grab on to Jesus’ offer of repentance and forgiveness.

Today’s takeaways :

  • When you are on a high horse – listen to Jesus and repent.
  • And when you are beating yourself up —-stop !— listen to Jesus and see your worth.