It was one of those “real moments.” This hardened, grizzled, macho guy was losing it and had nowhere to turn. When I say losing it, I don’t mean a meltdown; he was too tough for that. I mean he was losing his marriage, his kids, and if he wasn’t careful, his job.
When I asked about his faith, he physically winced and said, “God wouldn’t want anything to do with me. I’ve done some things….”
I replied, “But God knows… and God loves you anyway.” (How’s that for a macho reply?).
He replied, “I’m sure God knows. That’s why God doesn’t want anything to do with me.”
My heart was heavy and hopeful at the same time: heavy because of this guy’s pain, but hopeful because at least he had an idea that there was a God who could see him.
How could I help this guy understand the depth of God’s love and the help that comes from a vibrant relationship with our Creator? What would you say?
A Green God
Inwardly I marvel at how someone could read Scripture and think that God would have nothing to do with people who have “done things.” God is all about the people who have done things. Jesus came especially for the “done-things” crowd.
But it occurred to me that perhaps this guy hadn’t heard that story. Just as it occurs to me that others may not have heard… or may not understand the scope of God’s great love over the course of human history. (Yes… even in the Old Testament, God is love!).
God is green. I don’t mean envious… I mean God recycles. He takes discarded, used-up people and turns them into something new. (2 Corinthians 5:16-19). God’s been doing this for some time… and for all time!
Old Testament Example
Look at these words from the prophet Isaiah:
“But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.” (Is 41:8–9 NLT)
God is telling Israel that God will gather them back in… and will NOT throw them away.
Yes, you say, but God loves them and they haven’t “done things” like I have. And you’re right; they haven’t done things like you have… they’ve done worse!
At the time of this message from Isaiah, Israel was living in captivity and exile. What brought them to that point? If you’re familiar with the sweep of Old Testament Israel, you’ll know they had “done things.” They ignored God… disobeyed God… worshipped other Gods… and yet, God still says he will not throw them away.
In fact, read the whole of Isaiah 41 and you’ll see how present God is with help… comfort… and encouragement to his recycled people. And the result? Victory in the form of restoration.
The Rest of the Story
How is our “tough guy” doing over a decade later? He’s not out of the woods yet. I think God is rarely an instant fix for our lifestyle issues, but rather a healing balm. But I can tell you he’s still married and his relationship with his kids is warming up.
I can also tell you he lost his job… not because he got fired, but because he felt the freedom to find something more in line with who God created him to be. He feels the support of a loving Savior who will never throw him away.
So, for those of us who have “done things” allow me to make a few observations:
- God already knows
- God still loves you
- God has a plan to take away the old and make you new!
God is great… and God is green!
What have you “done” that continues to hold you back? What would it take for God to make you new? Where have you seen God recycle someone? Tell their story.