A strange-looking weather beaten man sat in the shadows near the wall. A tall tankard stood in front of him as he smoked a long stemmed pipe. His legs, stretched out before him, showed his high leather boots. They had seen much wear and were caked with mud. He wore a dark-green travel cloak with a hood overshadowing his face. He seldom talked to the people of the village of Bree who called him Strider. He was a Ranger, a group of men who traveled throughout Middle Earth on business unknown. Frodo Baggins had never meet Strider nor had he heard Gandalf mention his name but before morning, Frodo would have to decide if the disheveled traveler was able to guide him safely through hostile lands to the elven-city of Rivendell.1
Throughout our lives, we encounter situations in which we must assess the ability of others. A small child quickly learns if his parents are able to love him and provide the care and tenderness he needs to mature. A man and a woman must decide if the other person is able to give unselfishly in the relationship. An employer listens to the responses of a job-seeking candidate for clues that indicate his true abilities. A patient sits nervously in an examination room and wonders if the doctor will be able to diagnosis and treat his ailment. The trials of John Muhammad and Lee Malvo remind us that we depend on law enforcement agencies to be able to save us from danger. And the seeker cries out to a hidden presence in hopes of finding a greater power that is able to save her from despair.
Trusting in others is difficult. We are afraid
of being let down. Even if the other person has stood with us through a
previous crisis, a small element of doubt about the future lingers. And
then we have those times when we wonder if we can trust God.
When your spouse makes a request, "I want a divorce."
The Hebrews were asking themselves the same questions. They had suffered several waves of persecution. They felt vulnerable and defenseless. They had even begun to loss interest in serving the God who seemed so remote. The author of this ancient sermon writes to encourage them to stand resolute in their commitment because we serve a God who is able to save completely those who come to him. The author reassures his readers of Christ's ability by reminding them of his permanence, his character, his offering, and his mission.
The business community is discovering that a critical component to success is the leaders longevity. Great companies are almost always lead by long term leaders. Companies that circulate their leaders through a revolving door, seldom establish continuity and long-term success. The same holds true in our relationship with God. How do we know that our God is able, because of the long-term relationship we have had with him. Jeremiah tells us that he knew us in our mother's womb (Jeremiah 1:5). He was with us through those early childhood years. He knows about the disappointments and heartaches we suffered. He walked with us after high school when we ignored him and all those silly rules that our parents tried to enforce. He has been with us through adulthood as we spent more time on our careers and enjoying the pleasures of our hard work. Christ knows the history of our lives because he is the one who lives forever. His permanence reminds us that he is able to save.
Ah, Lord God, I have committed iniquity; I have transgressed; I have sinned, I and my house O Lord, I beseech thee, cover over the sins and transgressions which I have committed, transgressed and sinned before thee, I and my house.2
The doctor assured the woman that he would be able to reconstruct her husband's face. She explained that was not her request. Her husband would not agree to the surgery. He believed that God had disfigured him for not saving his parents. She had come to ask the doctor to disfigure her face. She thought that if she could share his pain then he might allow her back into his life. While deeply moved by the woman's willingness to sacrifice her physical appearance the doctor refused her offer but gained her permission to talk to her husband.
When the surgeon visited the couple's home, he knocked loudly on the husband's door and explained who he was and what he intended to do. The husband did not respond. The surgeon called out again but again his plea met silence. The doctor paused and then said, "Your wife wants me to disfigure her face, to make her face like yours in hope that you will let her back into your life. That's how much she loves you. That's how much she wants to help you."
After a brief pause, footsteps were heard and then the doorknob slowly turned. The husband opened the door. His wife's offering set him free from the prison of his room.3
Hebrews tells us that Jesus did not stand on the sidelines like a fanatical coach screaming at his players. He did not solemnly shake his head over the plight of our brokenness and suffering. He did not turn away and hide his eyes from the pain of human existence.
THE HERE AND NOW OF SALVATION
TRUSTING IN THE UNSEEN POWER
Hebrews tells us that we serve a God who is more than able to save both in the here and now and for eternity but the choice is still ours.
1 J.R.R. Tolkein, The Lord of the Rings, Collector's Edition, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987), 168,169.
2 The Letter to the Hebrews. Edited by Barclay, William, lecturer in the University of Glasgow. The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 2000, c1975 Electronic version, Logos Software.
4 Werner Foerster, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. Edited by Kittel, Gerhard, Geoffrey William Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Vol. 7:965-1024. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976.
Send a note to the Pastor firstname.lastname@example.org
1445 Welch Rd
Walled Lake MI 48390