Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

April 11, 2018

We’re having a wonderful Wednesday!  Why not?  To decide otherwise would be insane.

          Yet, we often do…decide to act insanely and inadvertently, unconsciously, thoughtlessly choose to have a dreadful day by carrying over feuds and upsets from yesterday…and the day before…and last week and so on…into today.

          This morning I began to pray on Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. I mulled over Jesus’ requirement that he be born again.  Nicodemus was of course deeply confused!

          Based upon the wording of that text, I suspect Nicodemus was calculating only the physical impossibility of being born again, “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born (John 3:4 NIV).”

          But what if…what if Jesus, when he spoke of being born of water and spirit, what if he meant for us to let go of yesterday’s feuds and upsets in order to be free to build a brand-new, gleaming Emerald City future?

          Have you ever noticed how our past seems to create our future?  For example, there is an old adage that says, “Fool me once, shame on you!  Fool me twice, shame on me!”

          The implication is that I should not be faulted if I trusted and then fell for deception, but if someone gets over on me a second time, I deserve to be duped because of my stupidity. 

          We customarily take this to be great advice so that we can avoid future pitfalls and calamities regarding our business with a person or entity that has caused us some kind of upset or discomfort in the past. 

But, from a certain point of view, when we take this stance, haven’t we just sealed our future?  We’ve just shut down every single path of forward momentum by slamming the door shut on the one that caused us a bump in the road!

I hear an echo of Jesus’ statement for us to forgive seventy times seven; and, a failure to forgive means we carry this weight with us forever.  I kind of think I love myself too much to carry a burden this heavy from now on!

What does it take to be born again?  Not much, it seems!

One great first step is to decide that time does not necessarily have to flow continuously.  In other words, who says that we have to experience time as a past, present or future scenario?

But again, we tend to build our future based upon our past.  Who said we had to do this?  Who said this was a required dynamic for life?

Building a future based upon the past is a choice!

Years ago, there was a story in one of those Chicken Soup for the Soul books about a fellow who came to town on business and decided to visit an old college buddy.  He ventured to College Buddy’s house and rang the doorbell!

College Buddy opened the door and his pal walked in with an Irish Setter who’d been wallowing in mud.  As the two friends reminisced, the Irish Setter proceeded to destroy College Buddy’s house, wiping mud on all of his furniture.

College Buddy seethed!  How dare his old friend bring a filthy dog into his home and allow it to make a shambles of the place!

The visit ended rather abruptly and Pal headed for the door.  College Buddy sarcastically said, “Aren’t you going to take your dog with you?”

Pal responded, “My dog?  I thought he was yours!”

Yes, indeed the Irish Setter was a neighborhood dog but a failure to communicate in an honest, holy way almost destroyed a lifelong relationship.  And, this begs tons of questions: How many times have we been upset over a lie or half-truth?  

Also, how many times have we tarred someone with a brush from a past experience that had nothing to do with the person who is in front of us?

How often have we allowed a past event to destroy a possible future of joy and healing?  How many opportunities have we squandered by remaining in an old-school negative mindset because of something that happened decades ago?

Do you want to experience a miracle today?  Do you want to be born again?  Then decide to see our brethren without their past so that they can be born again into our new reality.

Too confusing?  Well, let’s look at things this way, where the train has jumped the track, look at different possibilities and even opportunities, other than a train wreck!  What messages of healing and new growth is Christ already helping to bring about?  

Time does not have to be continuous, unless we want it to be.  If you want to feel ten thousand pounds lighter, let go of the burden of being trapped in the past.

Grace alone which God supplies,

Strength unknown He will provide!

Christ in us, our cornerstone,

          We will go forth in grace alone.

(Grace Alone, Scott Wesley Brown and Jeffery Dale Nelson, 2003)

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