Forgiven: we rescue ourselves

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wants to be forgiven“Forgiven.” What a concept, there can’t be much better for a human being to experience. All through our lives, we accumulate baggage, spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, the list is endless. These events can leave us, injured, broken, scarred, even lame. In turn, these have the potential for lengthy, possibly eternal consequences.

A joy of being a Christian is the blessing of being forgiven; and seeing the bad choices, accidents, and blows we have suffered wiped away, never to trouble us again. ‘Jesus Christ paid the price for our salvation,’ every Christian learns this; and He delivered us from baggage we have dragged for years. Of course, Jesus took on our burdens and sins so that we could be free from them; with that we are forgiven.

“So,” you ask, “what is the catch?” Every person living in our post-modern society accepts there is always a ‘catch’. Well, there is.

What stalls Christians’ being forgiven?

First of all, let’s get something square, the catch is not with Jesus, or the Grace of God, or salvation’s blessings. On the other hand, the catches dear friends come from our friends as well as us, ourselves. Stay with me and let’s explore this a bit. An unchangeable part of living with people is that those people we live with us, know us; and, most of all, we know ourselves. Human memories embrace every misstep, mistake, miscalculation, misunderstanding, misinterpretation. People, including ourselves, seem never able to forget. Unfortunately, many cannot resist constantly bringing up the past … forever.

People, seem never able to forget. Unfortunately, many cannot resist constantly bringing up the past ... forever. Click To Tweet

Whether we call it human nature or blame it on the wiles of Satan, our past can rush back to slap our faces on an instant’s notice. It would seem hopeless, but it isn’t. Certainly, those who might not care for us are likely to brandish our ugly memories; but likewise, family and friends can do the same, even more viciously; and worst of all, we ourselves can fixate on errors of commission and omission going back to our earliest memories. Nobody seems to want to forgive.

The trouble with troubles

The radio signal crackled the message, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” It was spring of 1970, and NASA had launched their third planned lunar landing. The mission, Apollo XIII was well on its way, carrying three astronauts when a critical component exploded. This event scuttled the lunar landing mission and placed the lives of the three-man crew in danger. The response to this space disaster is an account of human courage, resourcefulness, and teamwork. As an aside, Christians should appreciate the fervent prayers of people around the globe and believe these were an essential of the positive outcome.

Actually, a defective electrical component caused the explosion. (This marginal fact came to light long after the mission safely reached home. The important story for us is the account of the major factors which led to success. Proper responses and behavior helped save the men of Apollo XIII. This careful reaction helped head off a potentially fatal blow; and major damage to the country’s space and technology programs.

Christians must ‘work the problem’

Immediately after the explosion, shock and confusion seemed the order of the day. This was not to last. Flight managers took command. They instructed the technicians and engineers to “work the problem.” That is a technical phrase to focus on a solution and assemble a sequence of steps toward a positive outcome. Useless and unneeded finger-pointing, blame-placing, losing tempers, emotions, anger, and panic had no place in the effort.

When Christians face problems . . . keep a cool head, don't freak out, don't go nuts. Click To Tweet

In the same fashion, NASA’s experience is a good instruction when Christians face problems; especially when one long settled suddenly rears its ugly face. In short, keep a cool head, don’t freak out, don’t go nuts. Instead, we should assemble a team of dependable friends and fellow believers; approach the problem straight on (ignoring it will not make it go away); find a proper and appropriate response; then you move forward to apply the solution. This will lead to being forgiven.

Mission 13’s explosion came late during an evening, U.S. time. Consequently, many of the top technicians, designers, and engineers were off duty, many at home in bed. The managers’ simple message was, “Call everybody, get them up, and work on solving this.” Nobody ran away; nobody took the day off; nobody called in sick. Everyone in the program was on duty, at their post, doing their job, working the problem and expecting a solution.

A pile of problems

The explosion was the first challenge. Again and again, NASA faced many more ordeals that night and through the following days. The crew and craft ran into more troubles: loss of oxygen, fading electrical power, damaged guidance systems, lost primary engines. All of this was going on hundreds of thousands of miles from the safety of earth. Standard procedures were useless. All involved were playing it by ear.

Those involved didn’t turn to accusing one another, or worse, piling built upon themselves. Had they gone that route, they would have compounded the problem; probably leading to disaster.

Fortunately, teamwork, dedication to purpose, coordinated thinking and prayers took on each new problem;  ultimately bringing the astronauts home. As it turned out, NASA termed the experience “a successful failure.”  While the moon landing didn’t happen, the men and their vessel made it back to earth. In spite of dozens of opportunities for a disastrous failure, those involved “worked the problem” to a good conclusion. For us, working out problems can result in the bliss of being forgiven.

God’s way in space, on earth, in hearts

In reality, the world in many ways is very different than it was in 1970. On the other hand, some things are exactly the same. People still have challenges, troubles, doubts, disasters. Some are very personal and private, others make headlines. Regardless, the Christian family is not immune to such. Never forget: we are human; things happen; life is not a bed of roses.

By definition, we are members of a team, the team of Jesus. His example was for us not to take it alone, not to handle things single-handedly. We are the body of Christ; each has a function, an ability, a skill. In reality, no one has every skill and talent, but everyone is able to respond to a need. No one abandoned those astronauts. Thousands of employees and millions of onlookers were supporting and helping them, each in his or her own way. The Samaritan’s story teaches all humanity shares this planet; and each human is responsible for every sister and brother, every last one.

Jesus dealt with many people in all kinds of need. Scripture does not show him criticizing us. There’re no “what did you do to get in trouble”, “you got what you deserved”; He does not say “you don’t deserve my attention”, or “you’re not worth the effort”; nothing of the sort crossed his lips. He is our example. In a word, today’s Christians must help one another. Likewise, when we need help, we ought to acknowledge our need and share it with those who can help. Then, we together, can “Work the problem.” We can achieve one of the most beautiful conditions this side of Heaven, that is: Forgiven.

We can achieve one of the most beautiful conditions this side of Heaven, that is: Forgiven. Click To Tweet

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