Monday, August 13, 2012


Last month our family went on an absolutely awesome vacation.  We were gone two weeks, traveling to England, Scotland and Iceland.  No, we didn’t attend the Olympics.  As they were about to begin we were making our way home. 

A few things went awry while we were traveling, such as a pair of flight delays that burned up our first day in London.  And my wife falling and breaking her elbow on our second day.  And the time I hit a curb hard enough to flatten a tire on our rental car.  And the $47 parking ticket.  Ouch!

But there was so much that was good.  We saw beautiful countryside.  Time and again we met wonderful people.  And we had some really good food.  The avalanche of good things gave us a sense of perspective so that we could roll with the things that, while they may not have been good, were also not so bad as to cast a dark cloud on the trip.

Faith in God also played a role in how we were affected by the things that happened and whom we had to thank for them.  My wife’s arm easily could have been hurt much worse, or she could have suffered additional injuries.  And as we wait for her healing we are waiting, or at least trying to wait, because waiting isn’t always easy, with an eye towards God’s presence, and perhaps, God’s purposes in the waiting.  But I digress from my intent as I started to write.

We had saved for this trip and paid for a part of it ahead of time.  We also transferred money into our checking account to cover the spending we anticipated as we used our debit card overseas.

In some ways paying by debit card when overseas is very easy.  You decide to make a purchase, hand over your debit card and sign a receipt.  The receipt is almost always in the foreign currency, which for us was either Pounds Sterling of Icelandic Kroners.  The debit company does the conversion and it appears on our statement in US Dollars, with a 1% fee each time we used the card.  We got some cash overseas, putting the card into an ATM and getting the correct foreign currency, which was also converted to dollars on our bank statement.

The statement.  I usually reconcile the bank statement online but this one I printed out.  I am fairly sure that it was the longest bank statement I’ve ever dealt with.  It had a record of each time we used the debit card on our trip.  And each time we used it overseas it had a separate entry for the transaction fee.  We stayed one place for six nights, eating there four times.  Another time I spent less than 5 dollars.  In reconciling the statement each of those transactions was the same amount of labor.  It took as much effort to account for one thousand dollars as it did for 5 cents.  It was tedious.  Very tedious.  But it had to be done, and it had to reconcile.  And gladly, when all was done, it did.

Reconciling that lengthily statement reminded me of two truths of Christian faith.  Just as each transaction was just as much work for me to account for, so there is no difference in the weight of our sin before a God who is holy.

God is perfect in every way and his presence cannot abide any sin.  Absolutely none.  Despite all my rationalizing to the contrary, each of my sins are equal offenses before a holy God. 

And the shear length of my statement, with its many varied transactions, reminded me of the length of any accounting of my sins that could exist before God.  55 years of trying to live as my own god on a daily basis, when written down on paper, could equal all of the books in our house.  And we have a lot of books.

But the good news, the really Good News, is that the account of my sins has already been reconciled, by Jesus on the cross.  In Ephesians 1:7-9 Paul writes:

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.”

What of you?  Where do you find yourself before God? 

I am thankful to know God by faith, to have experienced his grace, his mercy, his presence, his forgiveness.  I continue to sin each day, but I also know my Creator and frequently turn to him and ask him to shape me in the image of his Son.

If you know God through faith in the finished work of Jesus I am glad that you are my sister or brother in Christ.

And if you don’t know the peace that only God provides then I invite you to consider how he may be seeking you.  And please feel free to contact me if you want a companion on the greatest journey of your earthly life, a journey that will lead to unimaginable glory in eternal life.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Interesting. Are you saying that Christ did the same amount of reconciliation work for a "small" sinner as he did for a "big" sinner?

  2. I'm saying, or at least intending to say, that there is no difference, in God's view, in any sinner. There is no thing as a "big sinner" or a "little sinner," and for that matter there is no such thing as a "non-sinner," which Paul makes clear in Romans 3. Which means that I am saying that Christ did the exact same "amount" of reconciliation for all sinner who receive him by faith.

    I think that what Tim Challies wrote this morning on the just wrath of a holy God was excellent.

    I am looking forward to seeing what he writes tomorrow about God's patient mercy.