An Invitation To Change

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In light of the recent tragedies in my country, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about baptism.  Tragedy and baptism actually fit together.  Let me explain.

 

I never tire of baptisms.  We are tipped back into water.  Parts of us die.  Our sin, shame, failures and regrets are buried and we burst out of the water new, forgiven, and free.

 

What comes next is my favorite part.  Shouts of joy.  Moms crying because they know the miracle of the moment.  Wet hugs.  God’s people celebrating the grace given and received.

 

Jesus commands his followers to pass through the waters so we have a tangible reminder of the deepest truth about us.  We are a new creation.  No longer do we live in chaos and disconnection.  No longer are we fearful and frantic.  We no longer overcome darkness with hate.  We are reconciled to God, reunited to his people, and realigned to his Word and his ways of loving.

 

In various times and seasons we can lose sight of our baptismal identity.  When this happens we walk away from contentment, connectedness, passion and peace.  We let go of well-tended hearts and find what we left buried under our baptismal waters – a frantic, confused, unsettled soul – a broken life that we crafted by trusting our ability to hustle instead of God’s power to heal.

 

Forgetting our identity, isn’t a new problem for God’s people.  It’s been a present problem ever since God decided to call a people to himself.  So pretty soon after calling a people, God called prophets to invite his people to change.

 

Haggai was one of these prophets and here is a snapshot of his message: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes….Why?  Because my house lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself.[1] 

 

In other words, God is saying through Haggai: You are frantic and fractured because you have forgotten my word and you have wandered from my ways.      

 

These words are not meant to bring condemnation.  They are God’s gracious invitation to change.  To consider.  To repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.

 

And here’s the grace in the invitation:  When we repent we find what was always true and what we forgot.  The Lord is with us.  His Spirit remains in our midst.  And our latter years will be better.[2]

 

This weekend is an invitation to change.  To set a new course in our lives.  To tell a new story in our country.  One that finds us crafting a life of faith and connection with God and his people.  One that puts to death our pride, hate and fear and leaves us grounded and settled, like someone still dripping with water from baptism.

 

Years ago, I wasn’t certain everyone could do this.  But then I saw my own frantic soul find peace.  I saw a busted family restored.  I saw a daughter come home, an addict realign his life with God’s way of living and a husband discover sacrificial love.  So slowly I’m beginning to actually believe God’s gracious invitation through Haggai: From this day on I will bless you[3].   

 

Does that sound too good to be true?  I know, it does.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  This is God’s word to God’s people.  This is what happens when we unite our lives to Jesus.  So no matter your age, your season of life, your beliefs, your sexuality, your profession, your gender, or your race, God invites you to change.

 

So before you launch into another weekend, pause for a moment and ask a question: Jesus, what do you want to change in my life?  

 

Then lean in and let him have his way in you.  It will be healing for you and good for those around you.

 

[1] Haggai 1:5 – 6, 9

[2] Haggai 2:4 -5, 9

[3] Haggai 2:19


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