Apr 15 2013

From East to West

blog 362Yesterday was the final day at my church in Pikeville. After the service was over Bonita and I drove across state so that I could visit my mother and family. The drive from Pikeville to Paducah is certainly not a short one. It entails going from the extreme eastern portion of the state to the western boundary. I know there are plenty of states that require far more miles to cross but the drive yesterday offered me an important reminder–it’s a long way from east to west.

Why would I consider this an important reminder? Because it points to the wonder of God’s forgiveness. In Psalm 103 David says “as far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (v. 12) Needless to say, the distance referred to here cannot be measured in miles. It is simply the biblical writer’s way of saying God completely removes our sins from us. This is incredibly good news! Unfortunately, a lot of people struggle with accepting God’s forgiveness. They find it hard to believe that God can actually forgive them for the things they have done.

blog 2The Bible goes to great length to emphasize the certainty of God’s forgiveness. At times images from nature are used to drive home the point. One example is found in Isaiah 1:18 which says, “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'”

I think that a lot of people find it hard to believe that God can be so forgiving because they find it so difficult to forgive others themselves. When others hurt us we tend to hold on to that hurt. We struggle with both forgiving and forgetting. God, however, does not. Through Isaiah God says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (43:25) At the heart of the Christian faith is the affirmation “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24) Yes, we are all sinners but by turning to Christ we discover that the price or penalty for our sins has been paid in full. As a result, we stand forgiven before God and He remembers our sins no more.

blog 3As we drove across the state of Kentucky yesterday and followed the sun west I found myself giving thanks for God’s amazing grace and how He has removed my sins from me as far as the east is from the west. It also occurred to me that every day, as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, we witness a visible reminder of this grace. Every day there is this wonderful witness to God’s love and forgiveness. No wonder, then, the Psalmist declared, “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” (113:3) No wonder at all!

–Chuck

(I took the top picture in Pikeville two days ago. The middle image was taken at Cumberland Falls State Park in central Kentucky and the last image on the banks of the Mississippi River in extreme western Kentucky.)