Passage: Luke 15:10-24
Key Verses: “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Vs. 22-24
The Atlanta airport is a place of mixed feelings to me. It’s there that I hug my family when they land from Brazil, as my heart pounds uncontrollably with excitement and joy. It’s there that I cry when hugging them good bye, knowing that I won’t see them for a year or two. It’s there that my nerves scream during take offs, every time I have to hop on a plane to go out of town.
Indeed, I know the busiest airport in the world as the back of my hand. This past weekend, however, as I returned from a speaking event out of state, something called my attention for the first time.
Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, before getting to the baggage claim terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson, one must take the one-way escalator up to the area where families greet each other and car service drivers wait for their passengers. As Terri and I got on that last escalator this past Sunday, I noticed the huge sign hanging above everyone’s heads:
“Exit Only – No re-entry.”
I’ve seen the sign many times before. But this time it called my attention in a different way.
The weekend was a wonderful time of sharing God’s Word and making new friends as I spoke at a women’s conference in Central New York. I watched as women’s hearts were touched by the messages God gave me. Many came to the altar and surrendered burdens, strongholds and fears.
I was thinking about the weekend and God’s infinite grace and mercy when I spotted that sign above the escalator.
Yahweh is a God of second, even one thousandth chances. And yet, so many people hold on to their sin and brokenness all the way to the “point of no return”… their deathbeds.
We all take the wrong turn in life at some point in time. Whether deliberately making wrong decisions or taking the wrong turn out of ignorance, we have all “been there and done that”. The beauty of salvation starts with the fact that our loving God is very aware of our limitations as weak and sinful creatures: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Even as Christians, our frailties will never catch Him by surprise.
But as I think of the hearts that have been changed this past weekend, I can’t help but think of other people I know who deliberately choose to hold on to their sin or brokenness, defying God’s grace as if it would never run out for them.
“Wait a minute,” you may say. “But God’s grace is indeed infinite.”
Yes, it is. His grace is infinite, matchless and eternal.
But our days on this earth are not.
If you are not a believer, you may have heard about salvation through faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ one hundred times. You may be sick of these “believers” who claim that He is the Truth, the only Way and the Life. You may cringe at “Jesus freaks” like me who pound the internet and airwaves with the gospel of salvation.
Or you may believe in Jesus but not believe Jesus. I say that because it wasn’t a Jesus follower who said He is the only way. Those words are in red in my Bible. These are His words.
Unfortunately for those who don’t believe, running from the Truth doesn’t change the truth. They will one day find themselves riding that escalator, as they cross the point of “Exit only – No re-entry”.
Our loved ones’ chance of salvation dies with them.
I wish it was different, I do. I have already lost loved ones who died without Christ. I wish I could “pray them into Heaven”.
But I can’t.
They took the one-way escalator to judgment.
And it breaks my heart.
But something else makes me grieve…
It’s those people who know Jesus… who have lived for Him and served Him at some point in life. And then something happened and they chose the wrong turn.
I’ve seen God give them chance after chance to repent. And yet, they stubbornly hold on to their pride… their ways… their sin.
They cling to the temporal, forfeiting the eternal.
I’ll see them in Heaven, I’m sure.
But the treasure of heavenly prize… that commendation from our Lord and Savior as He says “well done, good and faithful servant”… they choose to forfeit.
Their lives are as empty as the lives of those who reject grace altogether…
It’s Not Over… You’re Still Breathing.
Thankfully, God’s grace is offered at every turn of the road. God can fix any wrong, mend any broken life. Unlike the airport sign, as long as there’s life, there’s a way back to the Father’s house.
But the choice will always be ours. As the Father of the prodigal son, God patiently waits on His rebellious children to return home. And He will rejoice when they do.
And if you think you have missed God’s best, remember the end of the parable: God has a new best for you.
All you need to do is open your feeble, even dirty hands… and let His grace wash them clean.
Lay your burden at His feet… and watch it as He picks it up and replaces it with one more chance. Once more… He offers to lavish you with grace.
While there’s life, there’s hope… don’t wait until you spot the “Exit only – No re-entry” sign.
Today is the day… Choose grace. Choose Truth.
Verses to Ponder:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23