I think it is not out of our God’s power and mercifulness that He, thankfully, allows us to be reborn again and again. In His eyes, I know, we were born once, and through His sacrifice, He forgives us once and for all. In our minds, however, His “once and for all” equals our “over and over again.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have been born again. I have specific memories of total healing on several occasions, and I can remember the precise moment I felt washed by the blood of the lamb, pure … again.
Why is it we feel like we need to bathe so much when the Bible clearly tells us Jesus died once for all (Romans 6:10)?
The answer is simple: because we keep getting dirty!
Sometimes, we deliberately jump in the dirt, and sometimes we mindlessly step into a puddle. Sometimes, we have to just flat out grit our teeth and run through the rain and hail and muck to get through the storm. And when we don’t carry an umbrella, it can get messier than we ever imagined.
On February 17, I celebrated yet another “birth day.” After sharing my complete testimony for the first time ever with the girls in our house, I went to bed wondering how in the world I ever got here. Truth is, if I had to depend on the world, I wouldn’t be here. My heart was heavy that night. My faith was a little dim. I felt unworthy. I prayed like I had not prayed in a long time. I asked God how to rid myself of that burden. He pointed me to an e-mail. God is so odd sometimes, but I obeyed and read the e-mail and went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up a new woman – a babe fresh in God’s arms, renewed, refreshed, reborn. Happy birth day to me. It wasn’t two hours later that I received an e-mail from a friend (mindlessly stepped into a puddle) I had not heard from in a long time. This friend is someone I have prayed for many times and who continues to hold a stiff arm up against God’s presence. I have carried his burden too much, and I found myself dirty … again. I prayed for God to wash me clean, again, and He did. He was as faithful as always – to the point of allowing me to celebrate two birth days in one morning!
I sat several months ago in an auditorium listening to a Beth Moore simulcast broadcasting to an audience of 180,000 women. I kid you not that woman looked directly at me from atop her stage in Houston, Texas, and professed, “You can’t out-sin me.”
I looked right back at her and said under my breath, “You wanna bet?”
Beth then began telling the Bible story of the woman in the synagogue who had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years.
“She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’ Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God (Luke 13:11-13 NIV).”
Again, Beth looked me in the eye from that big stage in Texas, pointed her finger straight into my face, and said, “Straighten up.”
That was September 10, 2010 – my birth day. (I celebrate a lot.)
This week our lecture series is focusing on relationships. Today we looked at repentance and forgiveness. I began to realize that most all of my “significant” birth days have resulted from the healing of a broken relationship. I can boast in the fact that I am an expert in broken relationships.
I do not boast, however, with pride, but instead in an attitude of blessedness and redemption, as Paul boasted in his brokenness that brought glory only to Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:31). Pain and sin through broken relationships have hindered my walk with the Lord, so I boast in the fact that Jesus graciously allows me to continue walking with him, despite my reckless and obstinate disobedience.
God tells us plainly and honestly of His simple truths. He also repeats that, if followed, His simple rules can prevent heartache and brokenness. Why then is it so hard for us to follow His simple rules, which really boil down to nothing more than loving Him and being kind to one another?
The answer is as simple as His rules: Because, like children – and whether we like to admit it or not – we all like to play in the mud.
Some of us like to just stick a big toe in the puddle to see what the mushy gush feels like. Others, like me, like to jump in the mud pit, waller around, get out and run around awhile, slinging mud on everyone with whom we come into contact. Inevitably, the ones who end up wearing our dirt are our children, parents, family members and friends.
While the mud bath was fun, the cleanup is brutal. It requires standing sometimes for years under the penetrating streams of multiple fire hoses, borrowed from the ones we splattered while bolting to and fro flailing our mud-coated arms uncontrollably.
It’s not pleasant, but with persistence and a commitment to “straighten up,” we can be completely clean – just as clean as the person who only had to wash off a toe (Malachi 3:7). Wow, we sure do have an awesome God.
Happy birth day.