Handsome and I started a new habit last week. We’ve started having devotionals together in the mornings. Last Monday was the first.
We set up our coffee maker to automatically start at 6am, and we typically get up around 6:20. We decided to have coffee and sit in the living room so there is little chance of us falling back asleep… or for one of us (I won’t name names) falling asleep while the other is reading. It’s a time before Bug wakes up, just the two of us in the quiet of the early morning. It is wonderful.
A good friend of our was cleaning out their bookshelves and gave us a like-new NIV Couples Devotional Bible. I wasn’t sure what other devotional I wanted to use, so we started using that Bible. Now we are hooked. It’s been a real blessing.
We haven’t followed the devotionals chronologically. Since Handsome has designated me the Reader, I just read the first one I come to that matches the day, So on Monday, I read the first Monday reading I come across. This system has worked well for us, so far, the topic is something we needed to hear.
One day in particular solidified our decision to start this. It was last Wednesday. We read about when the children of Israel entered Canaan, and God told them to route out the peoples living there, using whatever means necessary. It seems like a very harsh command. I don’t remember what the devotional author’s point was, because what happened next is what sticks in my memory.
When I finished reading, Handsome was very quiet. When he did speak, this is what he said:
People say that Jesus of the New Testament and God of the Old Testament can’t possibly be the same, because this God was harsh and cruel, ordering the Israelites to clear out the Canaanites, while Jesus was all about love and tolerance. But that’s just not true.
In the New Testament, yes, Jesus loved everyone. But He wasn’t just brushing aside the consequences of sin. His love and forgiveness wasn’t just tolerance for others, it was very different from that.
Jesus was preparing the people of the time for his death, and what it would mean. Take Mary, caught in adultery, for example. According to the laws of the time, she should have been stoned to death for her sin. That was how things were. Sin has consequences, and she should face hers. But Jesus stopped those who would stone her. He stood her up, loved her, forgave her, and told her to “go and sin no more.” Yes, he called her out of her sin. But it doesn’t stop there.
The consequences of Mary’s sin of adultery were still there. Someone needed to accept them. When Jesus forgave her, he took those consequences into himself, even before he died on the cross. How many times in his 3 years of ministry did Jesus forgive the sins of others? Each time, he took the consequences onto himself.
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he prayed for the burden to be taken from him, he wasn’t just talking about the weight of your sin or my sin and all future sins of the world, he was already carrying the weight of 3 years of sins forgiven. He already knew the agony he was heading into.
But he did it anyway.
(I embellished a bit, as we’ve talked about it since and worked some things out.)
As Handsome was talking, I started getting goosebumps all over my skin. By the time he finished, there were tears in my eyes. I’ve been a Christian, specifically Adventist, my whole life, and I’ve never heard that put that way before. When Jesus forgave, the sin didn’t magically vaporize into thin air. It had to go somewhere. But we don’t think about that…
It still gives me a warm-fuzzy-cold-chills feeling when I think about it.
And that’s not the last time something like that has lead us to believe we are doing the right thing. Thursday morning we read a devotional that at the time didn’t seem to relate to us. But by that evening, Handsome had a conversation with a loved one who needed to hear exactly what we had read in the morning.
It’s amazing, huh?
When Sabbath rolled around, we slept in. All three of us had been up way too late the night before, and when we woke up it was pouring rain, so we decided to have a home-church day. We started looking for church services to stream online, but we were too late for most, and the one we did find was not theologically in line with our beliefs so we turned it off.
Handsome started looking on godtube.com for some inspirational videos, and we “stumbled” across this one. (The GodTube link wouldn’t work, so here it is from YouTube.)
I was in tears when the video finished. Then Handsome had another “zinger” that hit me right to the core.
What a wonderful analogy of how Christ carries us?
Zing! I had a hard time focusing on what I was doing because those words had struck a chord.
This woman carried her husband, who probably weighs more than she does, even without legs. He is “imperfect,” “damaged goods,” “not whole.” But he is hers. She loves him in spite of what he doesn’t have. And she carried him. It probably wasn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last time.
We are imperfect, damaged, and by no means whole. And we have no hope of being perfect. But in God’s eyes, we are worth it. We are His. He loves us unconditionally, and He will carry us through life until that Wonderful Day when we can finally stand and walk with our own two perfect feet.
But we MUST humble ourselves in order to accept the help. Imagine that couple’s marriage if the husband was too proud to let his wife carry him? I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t last long.
These are just a few of the moments from the past week that have WOWed us. Because we took the time to visit with Jesus in the mornings.
I’m going to leave you with a song. I heard this for the first time the day after Handsome’s revelation. It has kind of become our anthem. I hope it blesses you as much as it has us.