“The Lasting Mark of Life’s Mistakes”

Titus 2 ladies know well the lasting scars that consequences of poor decisions and sinful behavior have.  For many of them, they have come to believe that there was no way to get beyond them.  They did not understand the power of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross.  And though scars remain, there is life, even joyful life, beyond the wounds.  Ron Hutchcraft’s devotional today speaks to that issue.  (I couldn’t get the link to post, so here it is, cut and pasted for you to view.) “My daughter and I had not been back to that camp in the Tetons since she was a little girl, like five years old. We stayed there as a family way back then, because our good friends from college ran the camp. There she struck up a friendship with their five-year-old who’s named Holly. Well, the camp has grown a lot over the years, and so have our daughters who are speeding through their lives. It was kind of fun for them to see each other again after not having seen each other since they were five. And Holly took my daughter for a little private tour of a bunk house that was there some years ago when we were there. They had to bend down for what Holly wanted to show her. But there it was, still decorating the wood, in living Crayola color, Holly’s name in red crayon and my daughter’s in blue Crayon; both written in distinctive penmanship that five-year-olds have, and both still there after all these years. I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “The Lasting Marks of Life’s Mistakes.” Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Genesis 32, beginning at verse 24. Jacob has been having a wrestling match with someone who turns out to be divine. And verse 24 says, “Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.” Finally the fight ends when that man touches the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with that man. Later, Jacob knows who he met there. He called the place Peniel, saying, “‘It is because I saw God face-to-face, and yet my life was spared.’ The sun rose above him as he had passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.” Jacob struggled with God. He’d actually wrestled with Him his whole life. But at this brook he goes for God’s full blessing. God changes him from Jacob, the cheat, and He changes his name to Israel, Prince with God. The whole nation will be named after him. God forgives. God transforms Jacob, and He’s still doing that with Jacobs today. But even though the struggle with God was over, Jacob carried a life-long reminder of his struggle – the limp. The sin was forgiven, the man was changed, but as happens so often, he’d struggled with God and that left a mark on him the rest of his life. Now, my daughter couldn’t get over how long the marks had lasted for what she did many years ago. In a way, that’s a picture of how sin is. Even though the sin is long behind us, long forgiven, often the consequences, the marks of our sin are there for years to come. Sin is cruel. You were once its slave, and you’re free now but you still carry some of the scars of how your slave master treated you. You always will. We need to remember what sin does, because those scars, those lasting consequences will deter us from leaving God’s ways again. Now, forgiveness comes quickly when we bring our sin to the cross of Jesus, but it doesn’t come cheaply; it cost Him his life. But the ready availability of forgiveness should not make us forget the sometimes continuing consequences of sin; the limp that is there long after our struggle with God is behind us. I think of four Rs that explain some of the lasting marks of sin. Reputation – the damage to your reputation can last a long time. Regrets – there for years. Relationships that were damaged that are hard to repair. Recollection – the memories that just keep coming back. It’s a sobering reminder to seriously count the cost before we take any spiritual detour. The scars of our past aren’t all bad. Not if they remind us to stay away from sin because of its’ price tag. And it’s wonderful to know that God has forever erased those sins from His book. You say, “Well, Ron, I’m not sure I’ve ever had that happen.” Well, have you ever been to His cross and said, “Jesus, what you’re dying for is for me.” If you never have, He’s got the scars of the nail prints in His hands and feet from having been nailed to a cross to pay the penalty and take the hell for your sin. If you’ve never put your life in His hands, would you do that where you are right now? You say, “I want to know more.” Go to our website ANewStory.com. And remember, the next time sin looks enticing and interesting, let’s not forget what our daughter was so graphically reminded of, staring at the marks she made so many years ago. The marks still remain long after what we did to make the marks is over.”