The last few weeks with our children and grandchildren in Nashville, I noticed something about the youngest of our clan. Taylor Lane Nipper, who just turned nine months old, has really begun to "move around." It's not actually what I would call a crawl; it's more like a crawl and slide move with one leg remaining under her leg, but she can get around quite fast these days! She also is at that stage where she would rather stand up (with someone's support, of course) that sit.
I've also noticed, especially when she gets up in the morning, as we put her down on the floor to play, if not right away it's pretty soon, that she heads either for: the green plant next to the chair, or the door bumper that "boings" when you grab it and let go, or to the sewing machine that Ashley uses quite often that otherwise sits safely behind a chest and another chair - all of which she is told constantly "no, no, no" as she approaches each. These things have clearly been off limits for her.
Yet, being told time and time again, she still consistently heads to them just about every morning. Sure, she's nine months old and cannot begin to have a sense of right and wrong as we adults should have, but still, she sure knows and recalls lots and lots of other things about her toys and how to make them work. At nine months, she knows a lot of stuff.
Yet, it's human nature to be taught, more than once, what is right and what is not. It's also human nature that even after we're taught what's good, helpful, safe, and acceptable, that for some reason we still do what we should not.
Adam and Eve are good examples of this dilemma. Even the great and bold apostle Paul shares his struggles with the whole problem. In Romans, chapter 7, Paul writes: For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." (vs. 19)
Even though scripture may share what's right and wrong, or, a wise person in our lives that we trust dearly may give us sage advice, it's a good chance we will end up not following what we are taught.
Paul states (read above) that we are all sinners. We all cannot measure up on our own. If left to our own devices, we would surely die. But, Paul says, grace is given to us as a gift, and, through this gift we are justified by Jesus Christ who died for us. It's hard to imagine that anyone would continue to love us even though we sin. In the court system, if you break the law you will pay the penalty. In an athletic event, if you commit a foul you will be penalized. In baseball, you have three swings, and if you are imperfect in those swings, you're out. If you miss too many on an exam, you risk failing. And yet, the Bible says that even though we are imperfect, sinful beings, God's love outlasts all the mistakes we can possible make.
If one has faith (Jesus says it doesn't take too much - Matthew 17:20), God's love is recognized in its graceful form with salvation as the gift!
In business, in sports, in academics, (the list goes on and on), if you fail, you do suffer in some way. And, in religion, sin does sting but it doesn't sting forever.
God loves you, and so do we. (It's just that simple)
Update On Ashley
Thanks be to God that Ashley has completed her surgeries! This past Tuesday, she did have the final breast reconstruction and also a hysterectomy and is now home resting comfortably. She has two follow up doctor's appointments next week. She is feeling better with still some abdominal pain (which is to be expected). She is back unable to pick up anything over 5 pounds or drive herself anywhere, but doing well.
The children are doing well. Mary Alice and I are too. A surprising thing happened...while picking up some meds for myself this week, I happened to run into my old football coach and had a very nice time reminiscing. It was really great to see him.
Ashley has received nice notes for folks (as have Mary Alice and I) and it so lifts our spirits! Your prayers go such a long way too! Please know we are very grateful for them all! You are too kind.
Pastor Jim and Mary Alice