"Oh, I love Mac's Drive Inn. I guess I'll never get to eat there again," was the lament of a former McCook resident who broke all ties with the community when she divorced her husband. She texted the remark to her 8-year-old daughter who was eating at Mac's at the time, her ties unbroken by the broken pledge between her mother and father.
We are seldom able to predict the true and final outcome of many of the decisions we make in this life.
The unwed mother laments her status as a single mom, but is, in the same breath, grateful for the child, knowing that to have made a different decision would necessarily mean that this child of her heart would not exist.
So, too, the second victim of abortion, who wonders what her child would look like, sound like, be like if she had carried the child to term, lives each day with that hard decision dogging every step.
The petty thief, who has the misfortune of not getting caught, and so continues his thievery (it is after all relatively easy work and since he's never gotten caught, he figures he's pretty good at it) has plenty of time to consider the unintended -- some would say inevitable -- consequence when he advances to the big time and ends up in the "big house."
My dad seldom knew true satisfaction. He loved American automobiles. The faster the better -- and if the latest and greatest also happened to be an Oldsmobile, he was ecstatic. Until the next "latest and greatest" rolled off the assembly line. He was caught in a world where the answer to the question "how much is enough" was always answered with, "just a little bit more."
Bus stations, train depots and airport concourses are often the first stop on a downhill journey for a rebellious teenager who has decided that "anything is better than this!" thus breaking free of strait-laced, strict and clueless parents. Admittedly, some have left living situations that would break our hearts if we could see inside the four walls that effectively hide abuses that would be our undoing. In either case, too many of these runaways fall into an abyss of poverty, prostitution and addictions, most, usually from the first group, too ashamed of those unintended consequences to make their way back home, where they would find open arms and open hearts.
In each of these situations, the truth is plain. It didn't have to be this way. There is a better way to live. Love can be found even in the most loveless of matches. There can be contentment driving down life's highway in a bucket of bolts held together with bubble gum and baling wire. Submitting to strict parents can be a source of true joy. And the fatigue that comes from an honest day's work for an honest day's pay is sweeter by far than pleasures plundered from another man's labor.
First outlined in the giving of the Law, the absolutes that God gave man were absolutely for man's own good. They protect us from many of these unintended consequences. But keeping them seldom brings joy. Because keeping them doesn't change anything. Tomorrow comes, and we're still unloved, the bucket of bolts needs another stick of gum and the addictions gained while in full rebellion come to taunt, to torment and to tempt, all over again.
In each of these situations, the truth is plain. It doesn't have to be this way. Jesus brought a better way, not by destroying the Law, but by fulfilling it. And in fulfilling the Law, he also brought about transformation. When Jesus speaks of new life, he means just that. New life. Breathed into us through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are transformed and as we look at the person of Jesus, as we take in his spoken words, we discover, little by little, and day by day, that there is yet a spark of love within our hearts. This love, when nurtured and fed, breeds contentment and vanquishes lust, envy and bitterness. This love annihilates the chains of addiction so that not even a shadow remains. And this love forgives, pours out mercy like rain and teaches us what true joy is.
Can I love like this? Can you?
No man can. For if we could, we certainly would. And there would have been no need for the cross, no need for a new covenant, no need of Jesus. The secret is and always has been found in the person of Jesus, in the magnitude of his gift, in the power of full submission to him.
"And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'" Revelation 21:5 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.