At about 3:45 AM on a Monday morning, while on the way to work, I was in prayer to God. Suddenly, without warning a cat darted out and ran beneath my car; it happened so quickly that there was not even time to react. It was over as quickly as it started.
So it is with the course of our lives. It is as if we are not in control; we wiz down the highway of life, and sometimes on the way to our destination tragedy occurs. What are we to think, how should we react, what meaning does tragedy have in our mind and heart? What control do we really have over our lives?
During times of prayer I often consider the consequences that my sins have brought upon the whole of creation, as one of many sinners. It is then that I feel the weight and guilt of multitudes of animals that literally eat one another to survive as a consequence of my rebellion and pride. On that Monday morning at the very moment that I was in thought about Romans 8,
“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (19-23)
At that very moment I ran over a cat, and I heard it’s body crush under the weight of my car. It was not a person made to reflect God’s image that I killed. It was not a person that could conceptualize the character, nature, and attributes of the eternal creator that I crushed; it was “an unreasoning animal,” in the words of the Apostle Peter, “born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed” (2 Peter 2:12). It was not a man that I killed seemingly without reason, but that did not keep me from being devastated from what I considered to be a horrible event in my life. And what of all the suffering that I have caused because of the callousness of my sinful heart, and insensitivity of my reckless mouth?
Praise God that this life is just the beginning, and the greatest joy is yet to be; all of us that trust in Jesus and not our own good works will enter into eternal life. The apostle Paul wrote the magnificent truth of Romans 8 to a church of true Christians and not those who were “Christian” in name only. The true Christian groans over his sin, in times of repentance he does not make light of it but feels the full weight of how it caused the sufferings of Christ. The true Christian can make sense of the craziness of this present life, and even though he mourns over tragedy he does so with a living hope. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
The first thought to enter my mind after crushing that cat was the death of the Son of God who was crushed for my transgressions (Isaiah 53:5). His was the plan to rescue me from before the foundation of the world, but it was my sins that caused His suffering and death. It is no small matter to cause God’s suffering. I can’t explain why God pours out His grace only upon some and others will experience their just judgment.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14)
But I do know that it is by grace and not my goodness that I am saved. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). The Apostle Paul wrote, “…you have been saved…” past tense when I received Him in 1967. The work, however, for my salvation was finished 2,000 years ago, and not because Jesus knew what I would do in choosing Him, because apart from His intercession I never would choose Him.
“because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Romans 8:7)
No, His work was finished and my salvation was complete 2,000 years ago because He chose to suffer and die in my place. I am nothing but a lost sinner saved by God’s grace.
How often I have complained about the circumstances of my life; I have rationalized selfishness, justified bad behavior, defended my wrongs. But when faced with the penalty of my transgressions, Jesus, innocent as He was, opened not His mouth, “And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer.” (Matthew 27:12)
At the heart of all acceptable worship, for any person that would pray correctly, is the recognition that he or she caused the death of the Son of God. For this reason, Jesus said to His followers, literally hours before His sacrificial death, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
Knowing Jesus is not merely an intellectual acceptance of facts about Him for the true Christian; He is not merely a sentimental attraction, a tradition to follow because of allegiance with family members. Knowing Jesus means separation from the world, going against the tide of humanity, and a rebirth that could cost you your life, and it surely will change your philosophical perspective. Life is not about the here and now, it is about the life to come; and that my dear friend is the source of worshipful prayer.