You can get there

2/23/2007

"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow."-Isaiah 1:18

By BISHOP ROBERT E. HAYES JR.

When I was a teenager in Houston, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) developed an advertising slogan that I still recall.

To convince citizens the bus could take them anywhere they needed to go, the company declared, "You can get there from here! "Mind you, the slogan didn't say how long it would take to get to that destination. Perhaps I remember it well because I feel I spent a third of my life at those bus stops, waiting on the METRO bus. Furthermore, I often overspent my lunch money and didn't have correct fare to get where I needed to go.

"You can get there from here!" The phrase is especially appropriate for my message to you because we are entering the season of Lent.

Hopefully, this 40-day journey to Easter will brace us for the daily temptations we must face, expose us to the ugliness of our sins, lead us along the road of repentance and, finally, wash us clean before we get to Resurrection Morning.

We start the journey with good intentions. We place ashes on our foreheads; we kneel in deep prayer. We may even acknowledge this season is time for us to "get right with God."

What do we do beyond that resolve? Do we truly believe we can move from where we are right now to fully embrace God's forgiveness?

I know few people who commit deeply to this yearly pilgrimage, who truly believe we can arrive where we should be by Easter. For many, Lent has become just another Christian observance, with little or no meaning.

Have we decided we are so far away from God's mercy and love that even God can't reach us?

Please hear this: "You can get there from here!"

That phrase contains words of hope. It's as the prophet Isaiah wrote: "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." Those words remind us that we don't have to keep living as we do. They declare we can reach God from the lost places in our lives.

It's the best possible news.

What Lent calls us to do is STOP now in our downward slide, turn around, and go back to God. If you go to God and admit things are not as they should be, be assured: You can get there-to God-from here!

Your sins will find you out

"Sin" is one word we seem to have quietly removed from our Christian vocabulary in recent decades. No one talks about "sin" anymore.

Don't fool yourselves; sin is big business.

And sooner or later, sins surface, and we reap the consequences of wrongdoing.

A neighborhood butcher learned that when his "little sin" found him out. Late one afternoon, he was closing his small, but busy, meat shop. The only item left in the display that day was one small fryer chicken.

As the butcher was moving the fryer to store it, one of his regular customers knocked at the shop door. She had an unexpected guest and no meat for a meal.

She asked the butcher if he had chicken. He retrieved the one fryer, placed it on the scales, and said, "That will be $3.50." The woman said she wanted a larger bird, and asked if he had another one.

The butcher had the opportunity to be honest with his customer. Instead, he said he did have something bigger. After all, he reasoned, it was late in the day; no one would know what he was going to do.

He took the fryer into the storeroom, "fluffed up" the wings and legs, returned with it, and placed it on the scales. This time he said to his customer, "That will be $4.85."

To which she replied, "Good, I'll take them both!"

Needless to say, after his dishonesty was found out, the butcher lost that customer.

We sometimes see our sins as minor, wayward errors. Just like the butcher, we ask, "Who could possibly know?" God is not amused. God watches "little sins" grow until they get out of hand and flow unchecked by us.

I once read this: "God is not interested in an even score; He is interested in a holy life."

God's ultimate desire is that we live a holy life in relationship with our Creator. That's why God hates our sins-not because God is against us, but because God is for us. Sin keeps us from experiencing fellowship with our God.

God is waiting for you. Are you stuck in sin, waiting at the bus stop? You can go to God right now, and ask God to help you change your life. When you realize you can get there from here, you'll discover that the price for your forgiveness has already been paid!

Not even METRO can top that!


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