I sat down to pray this morning. My phone rang. Somewhere a dog barked. I suddenly remembered I had to swap out the laundry. I got distracted by the breakfast dishes…
My call was from someone I love– someone I was going to pray for anyway. The dog probably belonged to my neighbor– someone else to lift up in prayer. Which reminds me of the woman at church who just lost her beloved pet… I hung up my new sweater; a gift from my husband. How blessed I am! Our dryer is old, but it still works– another blessing. And the dishes–well, we had food to eat this morning. But they can wait until I finish spending time on my knees.
Prayers, like life, get interrupted. But we can see those interruptions as excuses or opportunities.
Just before Jesus took His last breath on the cross, He called out, “It is finished!” Theology teaches us that His statement reflects the completion of His mission– to defeat the power of Sin and Death, and pay the redemption price for all who will call on His name. The ultimate victory has been declared; the ultimate battle won!
The past two weeks, I have wanted to say, “It is Finished!”– as I struggle with a hundred different tasks that never seem to end. I missed my self-imposed deadline to publish a blog entry on Monday; I stared at a pile of extra dishes in my sink and a growing mountain of laundry as I added “extra” tasks to my weekly list. My work here is not finished; my mission is not complete.
But Jesus’ words remind me– It IS finished! My “mission” is not to wash every dish, make every deadline, “fix” every small problem that arises, or answer every question. My mission is to follow Jesus. He didn’t heal every leper, end poverty, sweep away the armies of Rome, or even convince the Pharisees to repent. Because THAT wasn’t His ultimate mission.
That does not give me an excuse not to do the dishes or try to make sure I post this by my next deadline. But it gives me Grace to keep going– not in my own strength or achievement, but in dependence on God’s power, timing, and mercy. His Grace is sufficient!
This is true of our prayer life as well. God doesn’t “grade” us on each prayer, or each day’s efforts; rather, He waits, patiently and lovingly, to hear us call on Him and listen for His voice in return. The “judgment” has already been given–Jesus’ work on our behalf has been accepted and declared “complete.” His Kingdom has come; His will is being done, even if our prayers seem small or inadequate for the mission.
There are some tasks that we will never see “finished” during our lifetime or through our limited efforts. But we can work and pray heartily and confidently in the knowledge that we will see it “finished” in God’s perfect timing. And we can rejoice in the privilege of working toward that end– even our smallest efforts and weakest moments are woven into the story of Eternity!
11 But Christ having come as a high priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, 12 nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh: 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without defect to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Some chores just never end– laundry, trash, sweeping, making the bed, doing up the dishes, mowing the lawn/shoveling the drive or sidewalk– the list goes on. Simple chores, but repetitive and sometimes annoying. And they are all necessary– if someone doesn’t do them, the whole family (sometimes the whole neighborhood!) suffers.
Today, I’m so grateful for the promise that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient– He redeemed us completely and forever through the shedding of His blood. It’s a done deal! It is FINISHED! All that the ancient sacrifices represented has been fulfilled in the death and resurrection of the Messiah. Atonement and reconciliation are available for the asking. We still need to seek His face; to turn from our sin and humble our hearts before our maker. But the Holy Spirit makes it possible to lay the guilt and burden of sin at the foot of the cross and walk away free and unencumbered.
Someday, even the mundane chores of this world will come to an end. Many of the tasks we do every day involve maintenance– maintenance of our earthly bodies (hygiene, eating and/or dieting, dressing, etc.), maintenance of our earthly homes (dusting, sweeping, washing, painting), and maintenance of the earth around us (lawn care, neighborhood beautification, trash pick-up, caring for trees, pets, gardens, etc.). But better by far, the “chore” of cleaning up after our sins and mistakes and emotional scars will be forgotten in the joy of our eternal restoration.
We live in this knowledge and hope even now– one day we will live in the full reality. Every reminder, every vestige and speck of sin will be banished, never to be dug up or brought to mind. Relationships won’t just be patched up– they will be fully restored. Consequences will be expunged; hurts and damages erased and completely healed.
Once for all–for all time, for all who place their trust in Messiah, for all the breadth and depth of words, actions, thoughts, deeds, consequences, injuries–Once for ALL!