Recently, I was excited to attend an event where one of my favorite authors would be speaking. One of my best girlfriends and I grabbed a nice dinner beforehand and we made our way to the venue. Before we found our seats, we saw and connected with ladies from all over town and various phases of our lives.
The worship was on point.
The Holy Spirit moved.
It was definitely where I was supposed to be that night…. but….
I couldn’t put my finger on it. My girlfriend and I spoke about it some as we left that night. My sister-in-law also chatted with me about it the next day. Another friend who attended shared with me in the hall at church a couple of days later. – We were all glad we were there. We all felt the Spirit move – yet we all felt something was lacking….
This morning, in my devotional time, on Good Friday – it clicked . . . .
The text that night was Romans 8:1. The title of the tour was “The Freedom Project” and the passage was perfect. The author/speaker effectively and eloquently, transparently and profoundly led the women in attendance to lay down the sins of our past and challenged us to faithfully live out the truth of the verse –
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
By God’s grace, He allowed us to feel the pain of exposing our sins . By His grace, we found accountability in confessing them aloud. By grace, we saw our sins for what they are, we felt real regret for their presence and prevalence in our lives, and we were able to feel forgiveness for what had been exposed.
As one lady yelled from the back of the room, “There is NO CONDEMNATION!” and we all clapped and we all cheered.
So what was the hang up? Why couldn’t I just chalk it up to a great night and move on?
This morning, I read a devotional though by John Piper and he used the word “condemnation” and it all came into a clear focus. He wrote, “The death of Christ secures our freedom from condemnation (Romans 8:1). It is as sure that we cannot be condemned as it is sure that Christ died…. Condemnation is gone not because there isn’t any, but because it has already happened…”
There is no condemnation for my sin BECAUSE Jesus took it for me. His death on the cross was the condemnation that my sin deservedly required. Good Friday is “good” because the price for my freedom from condemnation has been paid in full. Good Friday is ALL about condemnation.
I was thankful for the “late” date of Easter this year. I thought it would give me more time to prepare my heart and the hearts of my daughters. But everything I tried so far this year was feeling coerced and contrived. Nothing was feeling authentic, but more like I was just going through the motions.
It came to a head at dinner last night as Wally and I tried to talk to the girls about the significance and gravity of the night before Good Friday. Maybe it was Satan’s distractions or our lack of prayer, maybe it was our approach or their own internal battle with their unrepentant hearts – but it just wasn’t happening. (Honestly, it was most likely a combination of all of those things.)
Disappointment would be a good way to describe my mood as I prayed before bed last night. It had been an overall really good day with lots to be thankful for, but this was not spiritually how I wanted to spend this holy weekend ending in Easter. I asked for His intervention and He definitely delivered this morning.
As I read my devotionals and felt the ending of the message started by that speaker dawn on my heart, the weight of the glory of Good Friday became real.
Bible scholars call it “substitutionary atonement.” Christ took my place, my punishment, my condemnation, that I may know His freedom, live my created purpose and pursue a relationship with God.
“It is good to look back and celebrate the rescue of grace. . . . Grace lives a the intersection between clarity of sight and hope for the future.” These were a few of the words of Paul David Tripp’s in his devotional for today in his book “New Morning Mercies.”
“Intersection” – a crossroads, where two ideas converge . . . My mind went to the vertical and horizontal beams of Good Friday’s cross . . .
At the cross, grace allows me to look back and look within and leave my sins. Grace also enables me to look ahead at my present circumstances and future destinations with hopeful resolve. Vertically, my relationship with God is restored and my future is secured. Horizontally, I can see God restoring and redeeming my past, my relationships and my everything for His purposes.
This morning, the “therefore” and the “in Christ Jesus” of Romans 8:1 is my mediation and my worship’s focus. He heard my prayer last night. He wrapped up the spiritual longing I had been feeling. He began to truly prepare my heart to celebrate why I have no condemnation in Christ Jesus this Easter season.
Now that He has placed my heart in the right position, I pray that He will use me to influence the other four hearts that call this house home too….
(By the way, I hope this author comes back to Clarksville, or Nashville or somewhere close soon . . . I will definitely be buying tickets!)