The Weekly Trash
Every week a big brown truck comes through our neighborhood. Yes, the brown UPS truck comes through our neighborhood to deliver new things. That truck comes just about every day. The other truck is a brown waste removal truck. Every week a row of big plastic waste bins are put out so that when the truck arrives, it’s large robotic claw grabs the can, roughly shakes it over a hopper, and returns the can for another week’s trash. The things we put in the trash include soiled food boxes, scraps from various projects, broken and useless home items, and other junk that I probably should have discarded long ago. We just toss it out.
Everyone Is Broken and Damaged
Most if not all people recognize they are damaged goods. They might not call it sin, but they know they have failed numerous times. They cannot keep their 2021 new year resolutions. They have probably broken one or all of them already this year. They fail repeatedly in keeping promises, in marriage, in parenting, in honesty, and in a multitude of other ways. We may put on a nice front and may even fool ourselves into thinking we are special, but the sad reality is that everyone is decaying. Soon we will all be solemnly, with some ceremony (or without ceremony), returned to ashes and dust. Sometimes it is in a furnace, and for others it is six feet under the soil we once walked. And this is in keeping with God’s promise to Adam and Eve in the first chapters of Genesis. Death is what we earn as our wages for our sin. We have failed to image God the way he made us. In other words, the image is broken, and will be destroyed. But it doesn’t have to end this way.
It Doesn’t Have to End This Way
This year, as a Christmas gift, our pastor gave me a book, as he often does. This year the book was Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund. The subtitle is “The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers.” I have been reading this book slowly. Sometimes only a couple of pages each morning. At this rate it will take me a couple of months. It isn’t because the book is difficult to read or that it isn’t interesting. The problem with this book is that it is hard to read without thinking. One thing Ortlund is hammering home is that Jesus has a heart of a shepherd. But he isn’t just like the ordinary shepherd. He is the Shepherd who has a loving and sacrificial heart for us that is unparalleled by anything we have ever seen or imagined. My mother loved me dearly. I’m convinced she would have died for me, if necessary, to prevent any harm or destruction of her Wayne. But her dying would have been a temporary fix to my serious terminal condition.
Jesus, however, did die for me. And he died with a purpose. He said he would lay his life down for the sheep. His purpose was to take soiled, broken, damaged bad-image Wayne and replace him with new Wayne. It was a gift like no other I have ever received. His life given for me.
The scriptures say that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15. Yes, those of you who know me, know that I don’t always talk or act like I am new. I know it. You know it. But Christ wants me to remember something. When I give him my list of “buts” about how I am a great sinner, an old sinner, a hard-hearted sinner, a backsliding sinner, a Satan-server (if I am not serving God, I am serving against him), and that I have nothing good to bring Him, Jesus replies with firm certainty, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” John 6:37 ESV.
Perhaps you would like to read a couple of pages of Dane Ortlund’s book where he quotes John Bunyan. It is worth pondering. You don’t need to rush as you read each sentence. Think about it and then remember one thing: if you are in Christ, he will NEVER cast you out.
LINK: Gentle And Lowly – Devotional you can listen to is at this link: “I will never cast out.”