The other night I was asked by a teenager if I was ever afraid while in Viet Nam. My truthful answer was no, and I think most 19 year olds look at being in war as an honor, and if you died for your country that would be next to heavenly. But if I answered honestly today, there are things that I do fear because my youth has gone and the circumstances of my life make me understand what I must fear. That was long ago and far away.
Maybe you also have moments when the words of the Bible seem that way, from a distant time and you cannot identify with those situations. Most of us grow up hearing more about the "Thou Shalt Nots" than grace and mercy. We tend to look at "stories" rather than fact. Did David really slay a giant with a sling shot? How about Daniel killing a lion bare handed? Or maybe folks walking through a parted ocean seems like a fairy tale? Wow, did Jesus really feed all those people with a little more than a Happy Meal?
After landing at the airport from my DC trip last weekend, I was too tired to carry my heavy bag to the Economy lot so I rented one of those carts. I placed my bag in the basket and my notebook with laptop on the top storage area, and I was on my way. Getting to my car and heading home I was in a great mood after a wonderfully healing time with my first family.
In my driveway, I grabbed my bag and then it hit me that I had left my notebook and laptop behind in that cart, about an hour away in that lot. I remembered the attendant said, "just leave it and someone will collect it later" and I thought that at 11 at night there might just be a chance it was still there. So my choices were to call the airport (ever try that?) or go back. Then I remembered I left my checkbook and some credit cards in that notebook as well. I began to earnestly pray., and drive very fast!
Miraculously it was still there, and when I saw it I dropped to my knees because it was truly a miracle that at one of the busiest airports in America my cart was left untouched. When you think about it, look around in your life and think of the times God has saved you, of the times he has healed you of addiction or medical problems. Or how he has come through just in the nick of time, and all of a sudden those old stories of faith and powerful triumphs are your story, you are right there in the Bible.
Long ago and far away? Think God is not concerned about you despite your past? Try re-reading the parable of the Lost Sheep, Luke 15:1-7. In the first few lines it says this:
"Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to him. And the pharisees and the scribes all grumbled, saying "this man receives sinners and eats with them". (So then Jesus tells them the parable of the lost sheep and ends with these words) "Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance".
Many of us were lost, long ago and far away from God. Just like my notebook with its treasures in it, we were sitting in the dark full of life and treasure when we were found by God himself. Now, we drop to our knees and rejoice that we are found and know that as we do the angels are having a party on our behalf.
What was amazing to me about that story is that Jesus could have condemned those folks as lost, but he chose instead to tell them how to be found. Is that your story too? Let us know we'd love to hear about it, and I don't think He ever gets tired of hearing us telling about it.
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.