AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.
A 3-Minute Read
by Lisa Goddard
God has often spoken to me through music. Sunday, the church band played Holy Spirit, a worship song that has touched my heart since I first heard it a decade or so ago. The lyrics, which focus on the felt presence of God through the Holy Spirit, tied in beautifully to Jordan’s message.
He noted that, whatever season we find ourselves in, whatever condition our souls might be in, God is present. He is with us through the joys and triumphs as well as the heartaches and trials. That is an impactful truth, but what really struck me was when Jordan reminded us that, “no matter how far we have sunk, God will find us, and redemption is always possible.” Jesus is speaking in all parts of our story, he said.
I need to remember that daily, if not more often, as I have sunk and will sink again when it comes to my personal sin. Those who are not followers of Jesus might see sin as a “major infraction” against someone, or they may not believe in sin at all. For me, sin can be a struggle with pride, judgement, criticism or doubt. Sometimes sin rears its ugly head as a snarky word to someone close to me, engaging in gossip or being envious of another. I can’t sugarcoat it…it’s sin, plain and simple, and it’s hurtful to God.
The shame that comes with those lapses in Godly behavior is painful, especially when I know it has wounded someone else. Knowing that my faith and His grace combined equal forgiveness gives me peace. It allows for a new beginning or reshaping of my story.
One of the Holy Spirit song lyrics beautifully reflected that comforting reality about God’s amazing grace: “When my heart becomes free and my shame is undone.” As believers, we no longer live under the threat of punishment for sin. Jesus cancelled that debt by dying on the cross, paying the price for our transgressions. In his letters, Paul said for those who put their faith in Christ, there is no longer a barrier between them and God.
Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
I revisited the Epiphany Examen exercise we practiced Sunday and was given what Jordan described as a “fresh revelation” of Christ’s restorative power. Just being present with God, really present, always opens my mind to an invitation to receive His redemptive grace. When I sit quietly, breath slowly and deeply and confess my sins, I can better focus on what the Holy Spirit is speaking to me. It is the best, no, the only way to mute the voice of shame that sometimes rises up. I can’t just make it a check-the-box activity, but need to listen to the comforting voice of Jesus encouraging me that He is with me, for me and loves me, even when I mess up. I will continue to make mistakes, but I do not have to be enslaved to those mistakes.
For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14
Whether we deal with sin, unhealed wounds, hurtful relationships or difficult life circumstances, Jordan asked us to consider, “What is the heaviness in your heart? God can meet you there. He meets us in the depths. He can rewrite your story.”
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:24