It's my day off and part of what I did today was tackle a job that nobody wants.
This week we had a problem with the drain line in our house. The big trees in our yard have a history of allowing their roots to grow into the drain, and so it was recommended that we clean the drains each fall. Last November we did so. This year the roots made an unplanned appearance, so that part of what was supposed to go down the line backed up into our basement.
Yuck. Actually, double yuck! So yesterday Robin and I used an industrial-strength snake and cleaned out the line under the house and out into the street. And now that the basement was nearly dry again it was time to clean up and disinfect the remainder, something I decided to do while everyone else was gone for the day.
I could say I have experience with this kind of clean-up. When I was in the Navy drain lines occasionally backed-up on the ship and when I was of low rank I was assigned to the clean-up crew. Experience notwithstanding, cleaning up the remains of a backed up drain isn’t the kind of job people seek out.
It’s a job nobody wants. It’s a job nobody wants but one that has to get done, by someone. I'm no hero. I'm just someone with rubber gloves, bleach, and a bucket, doing one necessary thing for my family.
I have been reading Lamentations this week. There is a lot of pain and sorrow in Lamentations. The people of God have been defeated. Jerusalem has been captured and God's people have been carried off into exile.
This morning I read chapter 5, which ends with these words in verses 21-22:
"Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old - unless you have utterly rejected us, and you remain exceedingly angry with us."
The writer of Lamentations knows the sorrow of defeat and separation from God. And he knows that the only way restoration will ever come is at the hand of God. And while he is writing at a specific moment in time in the history of God's people, when we read these words today we see that they also point our vision forward, to the full and complete restoration of the people of God, a restoration achieved in the finished work of Jesus.
Restoring God's people is a job that can only be done by Jesus. The separation that sin causes between people and God is something that no individual people can never repair.
No one can be good enough. No one can try hard enough. All a person can do is to come to God by faith in Jesus and receive what he holds out for them…the free gift of redemption and restoration with God.
Restoring God's people is a hard job. It is a harder and dirtier job than any earthly job I can imagine. It is a costly job. It is a job that no human can do. And when we pause to consider the costs it is a job that no human would want. Not ever.
Yet it is a job that Jesus takes on. Not because He wants to, which is clear when we read His prayer in the garden:
"And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
It is a job that Jesus doesn't want, but which He takes because God the Father has called Him to it. "Not as I will, but as you will."
I am glad that He was willing to do that one job that no one else could ever do. I am glad that His obedience covers all of my disobedience. And I am glad that because of His finished work one day I will see Him in all His glory. Amen.
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.