I love the image of being washed clean in the river of life, clothed in white, purified and renewed. For me, it is a great comfort than knowing that when I mess up (it happens a lot), I can come in my anguish, repent, and find grace and forgiveness at the foot of the cross because of what Christ has already done.
Sometimes I just think I ask for a lot of forgiveness for the same things. I know our journey to wholeness in Christ is a refining process; being purified in thought, word, deed and heart. But what if we find ourselves spinning our wheels in the mud of sin, not able to move forward?
There are many people who are in this very situation. People who lay their burdens down, only to pick them right up again. People who can’t let go and are holding on to regret. People who can’t move on, dwelling in bitterness. People who continue to choose the same patterns of behaviour that destroy their lives. It can be heart-wrenching to walk alongside someone who can’t receive the fullness of freedom Jesus offers.
In the charge to the deacons we are called to “Be compassionate to the needy… encourage them with words that create hope in their hearts”
Those who are stuck with these self chosen burdens are needy. They need our compassion. They need our encouragement. They need words that create hope in their hearts. They need help to receive God’s gift of grace and the freedom that comes in Christ.
How do you speak truth into the life of someone who won’t let go of their bitterness? What can you say to relieve a friend of the burden of regret? When you see someone perpetually making the same bad choices, how do you offer hope?