The college kids had spent the day exploring the city and at 10:30 our group of ten and another group of about 4 or 5 met our escort at the designated area. If any of you have ever been in NYC on New Year's Eve you know what it's like to be surrounded by millions of people for blocks and blocks and blocks. It is absolutely crazy.
When we surrounded our escort his only words to us were, "lock arms and no matter what, don't let go." So we did, forming a human chain, following the man in blue. As we bumped and jostled and stepped on the toes of people who had been standing in line for hours in the cold, and we heard the disgruntled complaints of more than a few as we all kept going by, with our humble "excuse mes", we finally arrived at a blockade that the police officer opened up for us unto a quiet, abandoned street.
The noise and the swearing and cursing and bumping melted away as we entered into this surreal block of silence. The man in blue let us all go through and stopped those who were trying to ride the wave of our tails as he quickly closed the blockade counting us as we passed by. We laughed and high-fived and skipped our way behind the police officer who walked us that quiet block and into the heart of Times Square. Within seconds we were in the middle of the most exciting place on the most exciting night in America. It was awesome!
We had access. And we didn't have to do a thing, except show up.
I remembered that night this morning as I was just paging through the words God has given mankind to see them through this dark and lonely world and I came across a passage that jumped out at me when I saw the note I had written in the margin of my Bible. So I do what I do, got out my tools and started digging and this is what I found.
This is the Greek literal translation of Romans 5:1-4.
Having been justified therefore by faith
peace we have with God
through the Lord of us Jesus Christ
through whom also the access we have
by the faith into the grace
this in which we stand
and we boast in hope of the glory of God
not only that moreover
but also we glory in the tribulations
knowing that the tribulation perseverance produces
moreover perseverance character
moreover character hope
now hope not does make ashamed
because the love of God has been poured out into the hearts of us
through Spirit the Holy the One having been given to us.
When I write, when I get behind the screen and my fingers touch the keys I never know quite how it will all pour out and settle. I see the words standing at attention and waiting their turn to come down and make sense of the pictures I see in my mind.
Somedays I just have one word blaring like a loud siren trying to get my attention and so that is how I write on those days. I look up a word, using a dictionary, my exhaustive concordance, biblehub.com and I just start researching and trying to lasso this wild word running back and forth and up and down in my brain.
Then there are other days, like today, when there are no sirens, no words jumping inside, and I'm enjoying a peaceful moment with God in His word, not really looking for anything special, just paging through His precious pages and a verse catches me, a word or two, or as in today, a note I had written in the top margin of the page.
When we believe with the faith that God has given us that we are justified and made righteous because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross we GET access, we have our ticket, our VIP passes, to approach God, to speak to the Creator of trees and stars and cells. We don't have to leave a message and wait for him to get back to us. We don't have to set up an appointment with him for 6 weeks from now or two months or a year. We don't have to stand in line for hours in the cold waiting to see something from a distance.
We get to be in the middle of the celebration that is part of the believer's life. We get to be made better by tribulations, not made worse. We get to bask in hope, not be ashamed of our sin. We get to have God's love poured out on us (remember He likes to lavish us). He pours out His best on us. He doesn't save His love for those better, those holier, those more religious than us. He pours it out on all of us.
Whether we "feel" it or not, we are drenched in His love.
Whether we "see" it or not, we are marinated in His love.
Whether we "hear" it or not, we are soaked in His love.
Shame can't dry what God pours on us.
We have access, in the tribulations we are facing, to the God who pours out His best continually on us to produce in us perseverance, not defeat; character not wickedness; hope not despair.
We can't do it alone. But He's done it for us.
Your access card is valid. For all time. Even today. Even with the memories of your past, your access is still active.
You may be getting jostled and cursed at and accused by those who stand on the outside rejecting Him, but your access card is still active.
Hang on tight and no matter what, don't let go!
dikaiothentes - having been justified - to show to be righteous, declare righteous, I make righteous, defend the cause of, plead for the righteousness (innocence) of, acquit, justify; regard as righteous
pistes - faith - faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness. Faith is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people.
eirenen - peace - peace of mind, God's gift of wholeness
echomen - we have - I have, hold, possess
pros - with - to, towards, with
kyrios - Lord - a person exercising absolute ownership rights
prosagoge - access - approach, access, admission
kataischuno - does make ashamed - I shame, disgrace, put to utter confusion, frustrate
ekkechytai - has been poured out - I pour out, I shed, bestow liberally. Used of other things usually guarded with care which are poured forth or cast out