Has anybody here ever fell or ran into the sharp edge of a coffee table or a kitchen table? It’s a painful experience and sometimes requires stitches. I’ve done that. That’s why when we have toddlers in the home we try to have as many rounded edges as we can, because the rounded edges hurt too, but they don’t leave the marks like a sharp edge does.
That’s what Jesus is kind of talking about here when he says: “Father you are taking me out of the world. I’m coming to be with you, but I am leaving them to live here. I’m not praying that you take them out of the world, but I’m leaving them here, and I pray that you love them just as I have loved them and cared for them. Send your Holy Spirit to be with them and care for them just as you have cared for me and me for them. When they go through their lives and they land on the sharp edges it will leave a mark, and sometimes they will land on the smooth edges and it won’t be as painful and not leave as much of a mark”.
That’s the way it is. We’re called to live in the world but not of the world. Other scriptures tell us that we are sojourners and pilgrims, just passing through. (1 Peter 2:11) Just as the Israelites were passing though on their journey to the land of Canaan, and just as Jesus traveled on his way to Jerusalem, so we are called to travel as his disciples, to witness, to share the good news, to teach about the principles of the Kingdom of God, as we travel toward our home, the heavenly Jerusalem, a place that scripture refers to as heaven. And, on this journey we are not alone.
We are sanctified as we read and practice the principles of the kingdom of God as Jesus outlined for us to do, and as we pray together, break bread together, and mature in our relationship in Christ. Another word for sanctification is transformation. Transformation involves change, but transformation means much more than just change. Change happens whether we like it or not. Sanctification happens as we abide in Christ, and as we allow Christ to abide in us, that the rough edges in our lives can be rounded as well.
Theologically “we have been saved, we are being saved and we shall be saved”. It’s a process, a journey of transforming change, taking one day at a time. My joy is the journey, not just the destination. Good things happen. Bad things happen; things that hurt, things we rejoice about, tragedies, and great celebrations. And, we all have them.
I remember this one particular day so vividly, and we all have days in our youth that we remember better than others. This was one of those days. It was during the track season in the spring of the year. I was in the eighth grade, my last year of Junior High School. I was the fastest runner in our school. I knew I was fast, but I didn’t really know how fast. My favorite race was the 220 yard dash.
I remember as I lined up for the event with the lights on the track shining down on us in the dark of the evening. I figured I was going to get beat. I was running against the fastest runners, my age, in the Western half of Colorado. I remember conversations as we waited for the start about certain runners that would probably do well or even win. I was not in that conversation. I was so nervous. How many of you have ever had an upset stomach that is called butterflies before an important event? I was that nervous.
And, those of you who have ever competed in an individual athletic event will understand this. When the starting gun goes off, you forget about the nervousness and the adrenaline kicks in. When I ran I always ran with my head down, and I didn’t notice the track around me that much. But that was a problem with this race. Usually a 220 yard race means you run half way around a 440 yard track. At this particular event you had to run straight and not turn. Guess what? I turned. Fortunately my coach was there and told me to change directions and run straight. And, then something wonderful happened. I won the race. I came very close to setting the track record. I often wondered if I would have looked up and not looked down if I would have broken that record. I walked away with a handful of blue ribbons that way, a memory I will never forget.
The following year as a freshman in High School they asked me to run on the varsity 440 yard relay team. This was my big opportunity. They wanted me to run 4th, which is the fastest position. I had one problem in that race. When my teammate came running to give me the baton, I was looking down at the track ahead of me instead of looking for the guy coming at me with the baton. He ran full speed into me as I stood there not moving.
I remember that as a disappointing and embarrassing night. My family remembers having to take me to the local clinic to have the cinder pieces removed from my legs. That tells you how long ago that was. That’s when they had cinder gravel on the track instead of a hard track. My family remembers it different. They say I got up and finished the race and we placed third or something. I don’t remember it that way. My memory was completely different than theirs.
You ever had memories like that? You ever go to a family reunion and everybody is telling stories, and sometimes someone tells a story about you and it seems like the more the story is told, it becomes changed over time?
The more the stories are told they develop into a folklore legend kind of a thing. But, if they remember the story that way, I guess that’s okay too. In our lives we have times of joy, times of celebration, times of sorrow, times of sadness, times of gladness, times to cry and times to laugh.
Jesus says, “I have called them, not to take them out of this world, but to leave them in this world, and why they are here the Father will send the Holy Spirit to them to assist them in their journey. And on this journey they will be my witnesses, that they will teach, they will preach and be my disciples, and they will be sanctified in the way that they live”. That’s the story.
God loves us, and here’s the kicker from our reading in 1 John: “You have eternal life”. Listen to me. Here is the mystery: “You have eternal life”. I understand this in a surreal way. We are living in the resurrected life, right now; eternity; taste and see that the Lord is good. We are getting bits and pieces, as the Apostle Paul confirms: “We see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12)
As we go forward on this journey, and as the sun rises in our heart, we will follow the light to the kingdom of God, heavenly Jerusalem. Now is the time of salvation. Now is the time to open our eyes and realize that each day is special; one day at a time. Just as Jesus walked to Jerusalem, so we will journey to our heavenly Jerusalem.
We journey toward the light!