READ: Today’s reading comes from Numbers 35, with a specific focus on verses 9-15. Here God is advising Moses to set up 6 asylum-cities that would be used to house suspected murderers until they could be tried, so that those who might want to exact vengeance upon them would not be able to hunt them down. It was God’s will that justice be done, but he wanted it done properly, and without malice.
THINK: Here we are encouraged to spend time thinking about the God who is making himself known here and to jot down a few words to describe him.
Justice, Grace and Mercy all rolled into one.
PRAY: “For a moment, set aside this passage. Check in with yourself–explore recent thoughts, feelings, events in your life and how you’ve responded to them. What’s primarily on your heart today? Is anything troubling you? Bring your thoughts to the God who created asylum-cities. Read the verses again. As you do, picture God entering the room. How do you relate to his presence? Share with him what you’ve been thinking, if you can. Does doing so make you uncomfortable? Why or why not?”
There are so many places I could go with this, but where to begin?
What really troubles me today is just the amount of injustice in the world. My husband sits in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. A friend of mine is living through a divorce and watching the effect it is having on her children. I know that this kind of justice is not what God intended because this is not justice. And I have frequently spent time wondering where our justice was that one troubled girl from a troubled family would be so readily believed over so many people offering testimony to the contrary. And as I listened to my friend, I was wondering why it is that people find themselves thinking that they ought to be able to do whatever they want and never have to suffer any consequences for their actions, and why they will summarily subtract everybody from their lives that may try to remind them of the hard they are inflicting. How is that justice? Well, the answer is: it’s not. And I know that. But it tends to make me question the goodness of God when He is supposed to be just but there seems to be no justice for me and my kids, or for my friend and hers.
But, there is mercy.
Though our joint situations are less than desirable, for the most part, whenever somebody asks me how the kids and I are doing, the answer is fine. Not the “I know you are only asking to be nice, so I’m going to say ‘fine'” kind of fine. But, all things considered, we are doing well. Yes, our current set of circumstances bite. But, in His Infinite Wisdom, God knew that we would be able to tolerate this separation because we’ve been through deployments before. The kids and I are all used to being without the man of our house. This part is no great shock. The reason why we have to be apart notwithstanding, this is just another deployment, except that this time we are living in someone else’s house. That’s truly been the hardest part of the adjustment, and even that has not been terrible because we’ve also lived in someone else’s house before. So, while I could find plenty to complain about, when you get right down to it, I would just be complaining to complain. And, in my humble opinion, there’s enough of that in the world.
And there is also grace.
Several years ago, my husband and I had a couple of hard years during our marriage. There were some growing pains and some adjustments we needed to make. We had brought baggage with us from our previous lives at home with our families that was weighing down our marriage. The patch we hit had us looking at the other person, unsure if they were going to stick it out. I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. My husband knew he wasn’t going anywhere. But neither one of us could look at the other person and really believe in our hearts that they/we were going to stick around. It took us 5 years to get past that hump and during that time, I clung to a promise he and I had made early in our marriage. He clung to the fact that he had made a promise to God. We came through that struggle closer than ever and with absolutely no doubts that we were going to be married until death do us part.
That was grace for our current situation because had we not had to live through that first, I cannot even imagine what this part of our lives together would look like. I do not know how we would’ve made it through to the point we have, if either one of us was worried that the other was about to call it quits.
Of course, our situation is sad. It is unthinkable and we should not be sitting where we are (the civilian world wouldn’t even touch our case). But, we are here. The mercy of God has spared me many things I have not deserved in this life. The grace of God has given me many things I could never have hoped to deserve. And as for justice, well….the only true justice will come when we stand before our Creator on Judgment Day. Until then, I have faith that God will use this trial to strengthen me and my faith for the next trial, and that I will come out better and more prepared for everything that comes after this time in my life. It may hurt in the meantime, but pruning always hurts. The thing about pruning is: it is always done to help the plant grow into the shape it needs to, to cut away the dead parts and to ensure that the plant is producing the best fruit possible. But, there is still cutting involved and cutting is still painful. So, I will mourn that I had parts that needed to be cut away, but I will live.
And I will come out better for it…
…because God is a God of justice, grace and mercy all rolled into one.
LIVE: Think about what it’s been like for you to be with the God who is both a God of justice and a God of refuge. Has it left you with questions or with new thoughts on how you want to deal with your sin in the future? Make a note of anything that seems significant.
So far, I’ve covered what it’s been like for me to be with the God of justice and a the God of refuge. But, I have not covered how this makes me think about my own sin and how I want to deal with it in the future.
To say that I have been humbled through this entire process would be putting it mildly. To humble me, I had to be knocked down off my pedestal. Truth be told, I was not aware that I was on a pedestal until all this happened. I had no idea that I had spent a big part of my life thinking that, as far as sinners go, surely I was the least sinful. I thought that surely God got a pretty good deal when He got me, that there wasn’t a whole lot of work He needed to do to get me ready for Heaven. What a joke! In God’s economy, ugly is ugly and dirty is dirty. There is no such thing as a little dirty or a little sinful. Sin is sin; dirt is dirt; ugly is ugly; and it all must be dealt with, even mine. And I have been made to see my own sin, dirt, and ugliness and to realize that I need a Savior as badly as my husband’s accuser. God will not wink at sin. He will deal with all of it, and He will do so justly. But not just the sins of the people who have wronged me. Mine too. The only way to be spared from the harshest of those consequences is to throw myself at God’s mercy, at the foot of the cross, and claim the blood of Christ as the covering for my sins. And I need to do it each and every time I sin, keeping short accounts with God, lest I forget or come to think that maybe “it’s not so bad.”
My prayer for you today is that if you do not have a personal relationship with the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, you would make it your task today to get one. All sin will be judged, and because God is Good and Sin is not, it will be dealt with justly, and that justice states that God will not coexist with sin. You cannot harbor sin in your heart and hope to offer it as a home to His Son Jesus Christ. I pray that you would take care of that today if you feel God is prompting you. If not, I pray I have planted a seed, or watered one that’s already been planted.
Until next time, God bless you all!