August 9th, 2015

I’m not exactly sure why there are some events, as I look back on my life, that I can remember.  One of those events happened when I was 7 years old; I can remember it like it was yesterday.  I was asked to be the ring bearer in my uncle’s wedding.  I wanted to own that; I felt like it was God’s call on my life!  My parents bought me a suit that had a red clip-on tie with blue and white polka dots.  I can remember going to the rehearsal and just owning it!  I felt like I nailed the dismount there!  I’m ready for the day of!  I can even remember my mom, in the back of the sanctuary, licking her thumb and clearing the crumbs out of the corner of my mouth!  I can remember it like it was yesterday!  The processional starts and the wedding party walks in, then it’s my turn and the wedding coordinator pulls me into position and I’m thinking I’m ready—I got the suit, I got the marching orders, I’m dialed in and ready to go.  I walked down that aisle and stood up there as the pastor went a little bit long.  (I understand it.  I get it now.)  It comes to the point in the ceremony where they said, “The rings, please.”  It wasn’t before that moment that I noticed my pillow…..which was my only job….carry this pillow to the front….you are the bearer of the rings…..that I didn’t have that pillow!  Now, we give the rings to the best man which makes sense!!  I don’t know why they thought it was a good idea to entrust a seven year old boy with the most important symbol of the ceremony.  I think to my seven year old self, “Stupid!”  So I’m standing there.  At that moment you have a number of choices.  The one I made was: I’m going to save the day!  I sprint down the aisle, go into the back where I know the rings are.  I grabbed the pillows.  I run back huffing and puffing and hand over the rings.

You may be able to relate to the feeling of being positioned perfectly and having everything you need in order to accomplish what’s set out in front of you and then just….failing miserably.  Some of us can relate in a job, where it was just set up for us and felt like God was in it and we walked into it and it just fell apart.  Everything looked good when we got in….it just became a mess.  Some of us can relate in our families, where the writing was on the wall: This was going to be the ideal family and things just fell apart.  We can relate in a lot of different areas in our life, can’t we?  Where it feels like things are set up well and God positions us to step into what He’s calling us to and there’s something in us where we just have this propensity…..I’ll say it like this: something in ME where I just have this propensity to drop the ball or forget the rings.  Being positioned perfectly and yet, failing miserably.

Let’s think about that on a national level.  What’s the weight of that when you’re a nation, like we’re going to read about in just a moment.  When your nation has been chosen by God to carry this magnificent, beautiful, breathtaking message of God’s blessing to the world and you get to the altar and they call for the rings and you go ooohhhhnnnooooo!  As you read through the Scripture, just in the book of Genesis, here’s what you’re going to see:  God’s calling….remember this is one of the hinges in the whole Bible.  This sets the course of what God is going to do throughout the pages of Scripture.  He says this in Genesis 12:1-3:  Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  {We talked about this last week, but isn’t this typical of God?  I’m calling you to follow me.  Awesome, I’m in…WHERE are we going?  I’ll show you.  Thanks for all the details! I don’t think I can handle them all at once……..  Maybe that’s the point.}  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  That’s quite the calling, is it not?  That’s quite the invitation.  This is God positioning, calling, pursuing, promising and giving Abraham purpose to step into.  But you start to read through the pages of Scripture, right?  You don’t get too far before Abraham distrusts God, doesn’t believe his promise, sleeps with his maidservant and you start to see that this promise of God isn’t exactly going to be executed exactly according to the plan.  You go down the patriarch line….Isaac wasn’t all that much to write home about.  Jacob and Esau had a little bit of a conflict….right….that really defined there lives to a large extent.  Joseph is a mama’s boy who doesn’t really want to work in the field.  His brothers don’t like him a whole lot and sell him into slavery and eventually, THIS family, who God says I’m calling you to be a blessing, finds themselves under the thumb of Pharaoh in Egypt for 400 years….in slavery.  They get to the front of the altar….the rings are called for and they go….we don’t have them.  There’s these shades of grace throughout all the book of Genesis that continues into the book of Exodus, that we’re going to look at today, that the question is stirred up in us:  God, are you going to continue to be faithful to your plan when your people are unfaithful to you??  Are you going to continue to execute what you promised to do here in Genesis 12 even when your people drop the ball?

You and I have felt this too, haven’t we?  God, I have failed you.  I have let you down.  There is a space between who you’ve called me to be and who I actually am and God, does your grace, does your faithfulness cover even THAT space?  Here’s what we see in our passage of study as we dive into the Scriptures, this is the definitive word of God that we’re going to see throughout all time, all nations and it’s simply this: God’s faithfulness to his mission will not be disrupted by human failure.  {As a reminder, His mission is to bless all the nations…all the families of the earth.}  So if you’ve ever thought God, I’ve let you down so I’m sure you’re going to let me down, God wants to respond back to you uh-uh, look up at me a moment.  The testimony of my Scripture is that your faithfulness does not determine mine. Your failure, your sin, your disobedience does not determine whether I’m good on my promise.  I determine that, He says.  Remember, the Scriptures that you’re holding have a central message that carries the story all along.  As we talked about last week, the central message of the story is not that this is love letter.  That’s a substory within the bigger story, but that is not the point of the Scriptures you hold.  The point of the Scriptures you hold is not a road map for life.  You know that if you’ve tried to use this as a road map.  It tells you where to put your affection and who to put it in.  It’s not really a guiding ethic either.  It doesn’t teach you what decision to make for every single circumstance and situation.  What is it then?  What is this collection of historical accounts, letters, gospels, poetry?  It is, cover to cover, one central message.  That God has a plan that He is relentlessly committed to.  That He will not give up on and that your failure cannot disrupt.  His mission is this: That He is for His world, longing to, working to restore, redeem and ultimately, bless His creation.  What you read from the beginning of time until the end where heaven and earth meet is simply this:  God will be faithful to what He promises to do.

But if you’re like me and if you’re like Moses, there can be times and there can be seasons where you go God, just wanted to remind you of a few of your promises.  Here’s what we’re going to do.  We’re going to jump into Exodus 6 and see one of those moments where Moses calls on God to be this kind of God.  I love what God says in response, but can we just admit at the onset that we’re going to walk through seasons like this.  We’re going to walk through seasons where we look back at God and go I think that maybe where I’ve landed has derailed your mission.  Here’s the way He responds.  Context: God has encountered Moses and told him, “Moses, I’m choosing you to go and tell the Pharaoh to let my people go.”  Moses responds, “That sounds like a great plan, I think that’s going to go over real well.”  He goes to Pharaoh and Pharaoh doesn’t exactly oblige at the onset. Pharaoh says, “That’s a great idea, Moses.  NO!!”  Pharaoh’s upset with Moses, then the Pharaoh puts more work on the people of God because they had the audacity to ask to be released from slavery.  Exodus 5:22:  Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? {Have you ever had one of those moments in life where you thought about praying something then thought better of it?  Moses doesn’t have that filter!  I think Moses might realize that God knows all his thoughts anyway, so he might as well pray them back to Him.  We might as well not play games here, God.  You know what’s going on in my soul and so I’m going to speak it back to you.  Some of you know there’s an absolute breathtaking freedom when you enter into that kind of relationship with the God of the Universe.} v.23  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”   {God, it sure looks like our failure has derailed your faithfulness.  God, it sure looks like….I know people talk about you being relentless, but it sure looks like you’ve taken your hand off of us.  Just a quick raise of hands if you’ve ever felt like that!  Right!} Exodus 6:1:  But the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”  God spoke to moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord {This is Yahweh, his covenantal name, his faithfulness, steadfastness name.}  I did not make myself known to them.  {He’s saying that He didn’t step into everything it meant to be Yahweh.}  I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners.  Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.  Say therefore to the people of Israel, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people,  and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.  I will give it to you for a possession.  I am the Lord.'”

Now, those verses that you just read were revisited every single year by the nation of Israel.  This is the passage that informed their Passover feast.  They would go back and they would read.  They would read about a God who brings freedom.  They would read about a God who frees them from slavery.  They would read about a God who’s promised them a land.  They would read about this and they would step back into this story of God….even though we’ve been unfaithful to you, your promises stand to us.  Every. Single. Year.  And you better believe there were some years where the promises just felt absolutely empty.  I want to invite us into this story.  I want us to hear God speak the same things into maybe some of our failures.  Maybe into some of our shortcomings.  Our questions about: God, have we failed you so much that your hands are off of us?  Is that where we’re at?  And I want to allow the word of God to speak into those questions.

Jump back down to verse 6 and let’s look at what God says to Moses in delivering this message to the nation of Israel.  Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord {I’m Yahweh.  I’m this covenantal God.  This stick-with-it God that even when you take your hand off of me, I’ve got mine on you type of God.} …and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.    Here’s what God says to them:  I am breaking into your slavery and I’m inviting you to walk out as free people. (God breaks into slavery and brings freedom.)  The people and things that have their claws in you, nation of Israel and Moses…..the way the Pharaoh is treating you, he’s got his thumb on you….God says, listen, what I long for more than anything else is for my people to walk in freedom, to know Me, to know My goodness, to walk in my joy, to know that I’m God and that I’m for them, so here’s what I’m going to do for you, Moses, I’m going to get you out of that position.  I’m going to get you out of slavery and invite you to walk with me into freedom.  There’s a part that Israel has to play in this, yes?  Many of us our stuck in between the promise and responding to the promise.  You don’t have to read too far in Scripture to understand and know the way that God’s designed you and the way that God loves you is in a way where He’s for your freedom.  He wants that maybe way more than you want it.  It’s the people who walk in freedom who are fully alive and then point back to God.  God, you are glorious, you are amazing, you’re beautiful.  People in slavery don’t declare that.  Free people know and walk in the goodness and promise of God.  Look up at me a moment.  I firmly believe there are some people here….God’s purchased your freedom and He’s inviting you to simply walk into it.  Maybe today’s the day!

I read this story about this POW camp at the end of World War II.  There were about 500 U.S. soldiers in this POW camp.  There were more than 2000 that started with them on this walk to the camp, but only 500 made it there.  They were in this POW camp for three years.  Because the nation of Japan started to understand they were defeated, the soldiers in this camp started to back off and they would give the POWs food and that was about it.  When 112 U.S. Army Rangers got there, what they found was 500 POWs on the brink of starvation, disease ridden.  When the Rangers came, the POWs refused to go with them initially.  They refused to budge.  Listen to the account of this:  Finally, a soldier walked up to Captain Bert Bank, tugged his arm, and said, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want to be free?”  Bank, this POW, being from Alabama, recognized the southern accent of his questioner.  A smile formed on his face, and he willingly and thankfully began the journey to freedom.  Finally, well away from what had been, for years, the site of an ongoing, horrific assault on their humanity, the newly freed prisoners began their march home.  In the description of one prisoner, contrasting it with the walk TO the camp, he said, “It was a long, slow, steady march—but it was a life march, a march to freedom.”

Paul writes to the church at Galatia and says that God longs for you to be free:  For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm there, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)   So is there something that has its claws in you?  Maybe it’s an addiction.  Maybe it’s hopelessness.  Maybe it’s despair.  I wonder today, if God is saying, “Ok, your failure has NOT squelched out my faithfulness.  Follow me.”

It’s really interesting if you look back at verse 4. It says:  I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. (v. 8) I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.  I will give it to your for a possession.  I am the Lord.     Look at what’s going on here.  He’s saying, “Your forefathers—the patriarchs—their feet touched the land that I promised them, but they didn’t get to live there permanently.  Have you ever felt like you got a taste of what God was doing?  You got a taste of the joy of following Him and then, just like dipping your hand into a bucket of water and trying to pull out a handful, it just disappeared.  The nation of Israel can relate.  Their feet touched the land of promise, flowing with milk and honey.  They were THERE, but because of their faithlessness and because of, ultimately, the plan that God was weaving in and through their life, they were removed from it and in slavery for 400 years.  God breaks into that and definitively declares, “Your disappointment is going to be overshadowed by my restoration.  The place that your feet touched I’m going to give you as your home.”  (God breaks into disappointment and generates restoration.)  This is a beautiful picture, is it not?  We can all relate.  As a parent, there are days I say, “Nailed it!”  They’re few and far between.  But there are way more days I go, “Whoa! I just need You!”  What God’s saying to the nation of Israel is that you’ve had those days and I’m inviting you back not to live there as aliens and sojourners, but to live there forever.  That’s my plan!

I love the way God prophetically says it to the nation of Israel through the book of Joel.   I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25)   I took it from you in order to win you back and I am going to restore.  I LOVE this about our God, don’t you?  He’s a God of restoration.  He’s a God who says, “I know it’s broken, but I, through my grace and my mercy, can fix that.  I wonder if there’s something in your life that you might just hold out to God today to say, “God, I need the divine breath of restoration over this.”  Maybe joy has just disappeared.  Maybe the peace, the shalom, that God speaks over a life is just gone and you feel like you’re running on that treadmill of life and you’re just running out of gas.  He says over you this morning, I can restore that…if you’ll let me.  If you look at the book of Job, he’s a recipient of the enemy’s pursuit on and on throughout his life.  At the END of his life, he’s the recipient of divine blessing and restoration….more than he started with.  That’s our God.

Finally, here’s what the Lord speaks into the nation of Israel.  (V. 6) Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.  I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God.   This is God speaking into slavery.  This is God speaking into people who are oppressed.  People who aren’t a nation in and of themselves, they’re just a workforce for another nation.  He says, “I’m going to speak into your insignificance and I’m going to breath identity over you.” (God breaks into insignificance and creates identity.) You’re going to be my people and I will be your God.  You can follow this theme all throughout the Scriptures.  In the book of 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Apostle Paul writes: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.   This is Jesus at work—-restoring, redeeming—-then putting His stamp on the lives of people to say, “You are my people!”  We could push back against that and say, “I don’t know if I like that, God.  I don’t know if I want to be owned by you.”  Look up at me a moment.  You’re owned by something!  The question is whether that something or someone is out for your joy or out for theirs.  Jesus says, “I’m putting my stamp on you.  You’re no longer slaves to fear.  You’re children of the most high God.  I’m putting my Spirit inside of you that cries out ‘Abba, Father!’  I’m adopting you into my family that you might know redemption, that you might know my call, that you might know my promise, that you might know my purpose, my pursuit, my redemption over your life.  You’re adopted, you’re mine!”  In the book of Ephesians 1:18, Paul writes an absolutely ridiculous thing:  He says that you and I are God’s inheritance.  I read that and I go well, He got the raw end of the deal!  That’s where we live!  You are His!  This takes God’s promise to Abraham, his recreation story to the next level.  He says to this people, “You’re going to be free.  You’re going to be restored.  You’re going to have identity.  All that so you might carry my name!”  That’s awesome!

Here’s three things that God does to and for the nation of Israel, in order to fill out this picture of what it looks like to be His people.  Here’s what He does.  First, He calls them to himself and then it’s not that long after this that you see them out of slavery, walking in freedom, where He gives them the Law, the 10 Commandments.  We’ll just call this ethic this morning.  He wants to teach the nation of Israel what it looks like to be His people and for Him to be their God.  So He gives them commands.  This is what it looks like.  You don’t steal from one another.  They’re like, “Whhhaaattt?” You don’t covet.  You worship me above all else.  You take a time to incorporate into the rhythm of your week rest.  This is what it looks like to be my people.   He gives them the 10 Commandments.  Eventually, He gives them, according to the book of Romans….He entrusts them with the oracles of God.  The Word of God.  They are to be carriers of it!  I love this!  What Paul points out to the church at Rome is not that you’ve been just blessed with the oracles of God…not that you’ve just been given the oracles of God, but you’ve been entrusted with them. (Romans 3:2) How many of you know God never just gives you a blessing?  He entrusts you with it….that by it others might walk in the same blessing.  Here’s the deal: I’m creating a people unique and distinct.  A people who value justice.  A people who are defined by mercy.  A people who have space among them “for the alien among them,” because, God says to them, you, at one point, were aliens, too!  Don’t forget your past!  So he commands them, “The portion along the outside of your crops…don’t harvest it, don’t touch it.  That’s for people that don’t have enough.  They can come to your field and take and eat of that.”  This is a brand new ethic…what it looks like to be and to become and to live in the promises of God.

Second, they’re a people of worship.  It’s not long after they’re out of Egypt that God says build a tabernacle. He gives them the specs they’re suppose to build it with and this is the place that God comes and meets and dwells with his people, among his people, the book of Leviticus says. (Lev. 26:11-13):  I will make my dwelling among, and my soul shall abhor you.  And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.   Eventually, when the nation of Israel builds a temple, the temple serves the same purpose. It’s for the purpose of worship, but when it all comes down to it, Solomon, in his dedication of the temple prays: …that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. (1 Kings 8:60)   This worship was never intended to just be about them and God.  The worship was, while at times personal, never private.  It was always meant to be….join in!  Join in as we sing about the greatness of our God.  Join in as we sing about the mercy of our God.  The steadfastness of our God.  There’s an evangelistic element even in the temple.  The nations might come around and go, “Your God’s awesome.  Totally different than our god.”  Join in.

So there’s an ethic, there’s worship and finally, there’s relationship.  Set up in the rhythm of the Israelite life and world was Sabbath, was rest, was walking with God.  They had seven feasts and festivals they celebrated, totaling somewhere around 80 days of pausing and celebrating and remembering God’s activity among them. The center point of that was the Day of Atonement.  This national day where they would confess and repent and step back into relationship with God.  This is what He sets out, “You will be my people.  I will be your God.” Ethic. Worship. Relationship.  All for the purpose of, catch this in Isaiah 42:6:  I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations…  Ethic. Worship. Relationship.  All that they might be….a light!  Missions wasn’t something that they did.  It was who they were.  It was who they were intended to be.

But, if you know the story, here’s the way it goes.  The ethic turned into disobedience.  Worship turned into idolatry.  Relationship turned into duty.  There’s this space between who God has called them to be and who God has said that they are and they way that they’re actually living.  I know that space.  Do you know that space?? There’s a ton of things that live in this space for us, aren’t there?  That this is what God’s called me to do and be and this is the reality of where I’m at.  There’s a ton of things that live in that space.  I’ll tell you a few for me.  Guilt and shame live in this space for me.  God, I know this is what I’m suppose to do…..listen, I’m no genius, but I can read your Scriptures.  I know the Sermon on the Mount and I know I’m not living up to it.  I have this unique ability to beat me up worse than any of you ever could.  There’s pain that lives here (in this space), for a lot of us.  Regret:  God, I know that this was the type of parent I was suppose to be and yet, here’s where I live.  I know that as a son or daughter….here’s where I’m suppose to be and yet, this is where I live, this is what I’ve done.  There’s some other scary things that sometimes live in the space between.  Sometimes delusion lives there.  Where we say, “Space between?? What’s this you speak of??”  Everybody else who’s around you….they see it.  Maybe you ask someone who knows you really well, “What’s the space you see?”  Delusion can live here.  Hypocrisy can live here.  I’m going to pretend to play the game, but really, my heart’s just not in it.

There’s things that can happen when the space between—-who we’re called to be and who God says we are and the way we actually live…..when we start to recognize that it has this potential to haunt us, doesn’t it?  I’ll say it like this: It has the potential to haunt ME!  I’ll tell you what.  Here’s what lives in the space between.  I knew who God had called me to be, what God had called me to do and yet……I was a youth pastor on a backpacking trail.  And I held one of my students as he died. We did CPR for an hour and 45 minutes and he passed away on that trail.  I can tell you I knew and know this gap!  God, I should have been…..this is who I am.  I tried to close the gap.  I tried to work my way over here (to the other side) and there were some days I did and I’d pat myself on the back and go man, I’m awesome and immediately I was back on the other side!!

We know what we fill that gap with.  A better question, though….what does God fill the gap with?  What does He speak into the gap?  It’s interesting when you look at the nation of Israel, what God speaks into their gap is “exile.”  He speaks exile.  He says if you’re not going to obey me, I’m going to send you away so that things can worse, that I might woo you back.  His heart is always I want you back, I want you mine, you are my people, I am your God: Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness…And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.  And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. (Hosea 2:14-15)   I’m going to send them away that I might eventually win them back.  Why?  Because God’s faithfulness to you is not determined by your faithfulness to Him!  So He says, “I’m going to continue to chase. I’m going to continue to pursue. I’m going to continue to run after you.”

Second thing, he loves ferociously in the gap.  We fill it with guilt.  We fill it with shame.  We fill it with trying harder.  We fill it with works-based religion.  He goes I’m going to fill it with love.  I’m going to keep chasing you down, because I’m for you.  And He says I refuse to give up on you!   That’s a word for some of you this morning that God wants you to hold onto!  He is NOT giving up on you!  He does not quit.  He is relentless to the end.  So the question is: What does God fill in the gap with?  What does He fill in the space between?  Are you ready? Here’s what He fills the gap in with for the nation of Israel, for you and for me….our gap is no different.  It’s what He’s called us to be and who He is.  What does He fill in the gap with???  The person and work of JESUS!  That’s what He does!  That’s who He is.  That’s who our God is.  Your faithlessness will not determine His faithfulness.  He says, “I am on mission.  My mission is to restore, to redeem and to bless my creation and your ineffectiveness and your failure will not get me off course.”  He speaks into that.  I love the way the author of Hebrews says it: In these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son. (Heb. 1: 2)  He speaks into the gap and says, “Jesus!  He’s sufficient.  He’s enough.  On your best day and on your worse day.”  The space between who He said you are and who you’re called to be and how you actually live…..He speaks JESUS into that gap.  God speaks into failure with the faithfulness of Jesus.  That’s freaking awesome!  You might even call that gospel!

I think if we really believe this, some things would change.  Let me close with a few.  Maybe instead of focusing on my guilt I would start to respond to His pursuit.  Because I’ve noticed in my life that I can either focus on me and my guilt and my shame and the space between, or I can focus on Him.  A lot of us want to try to do both and guilt always wins, doesn’t it?  Maybe we pray with passion for family members and neighbors knowing that God hasn’t given up on them either.  Maybe we’d engage our community with the assumption that God was already present and pursuing out of love—that he has not given up.  Maybe instead of judging people for their gap—between who they are called to be and the way they actually live—we, like God, might step into it with the words and works of Jesus.  What if….as a community of faith…..what if we saw our role as partnering with this God who says, “This is who I’ve called you to be and this is who you are.  And in the in between I want to speak Jesus—His hope, His mercy, His grace, His goodness, His kindness, His steadfastness, His shalom—-I want to speak THAT into the gap.”  We all have a space between in our life.  The question is who or what fills it?  My prayer is, as a community, we would say, “Jesus fills the gap.”

Let’s pray.  God, through it all, you’ve been faithful.  You haven’t given up.  God, I think of my life and how many chances, how many opportunities you’ve had to say I’m just done with Paulson.  I’ve given you so many.  And yet, you continue to fill that gap with Jesus.  You continue to speak grace.  You continue to speak hope. You continue to draw me to yourself.  God, I’m so grateful that my failure didn’t derail your faithfulness.  That you’re relentlessly for your creation to redeem, restore, to make new.  Thank you.  Jesus, I pray that you just speak that over us today, as your people.  Remind us who we are.  Who you are.  What you’ve done.  The way You bridge the space between…with your grace, with your mercy and with your glory.  And God, may we be people who breathe in that grace and breathe out your praise.  You’re good and it’s in your name we pray.  Amen.