Fourth Sunday in Lent
In frantic and frightening times, it’s sometimes difficult for even the most faithful of Jesus’ followers to remember how much God loves us. Even for those of us who have John 3:16 memorized, it might be hard to apply those words in a meaningful way to our stressful lives. This is when we can apply to our own, sometimes wavering, faith the following verse: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Like most children, when I was little, I occasionally did something I knew I wasn’t supposed to do. Immediately afterwards, I would realize that, when the action was discovered, I would be in big trouble with my parents. I don’t know what I expected the punishment to be, but I knew I deserved it, and I wouldn’t like whatever it was.
So, in order to delay the inevitable, I hid from my parents. I would seek refuge where I assumed my parents wouldn’t find me. Usually I hid in a dark corner—behind a door, in a closet, or under my bed. My fear of being discovered caused me to forget, momentarily, how much my parents loved me. We live in a world that presents many reasons to fear. When we allow ourselves to succumb to panic mode, sometimes we forget that we have a God who chooses infinite love over an impulse to condemn. For many, there is a childlike temptation to hide in the darkness, rather than be revealed by the light of a God who demands justice and righteousness.
But when we become tired of hiding, God’s grace allows us to step out of the shadows and into the brilliant light of God’s infinite, self-sacrificing love.
Willie Israel, retired pastor
Asheville, North Carolina