Jan. 15, 2016

The "IN" Word

I can imagine what you must have thought when you first read the title of this submission. Believe me, I struggled with using it but finally came to the place in my thinking that allowed me to move forward. The "in" word, or the word "in" has become, for me, one of the most important words in the English language.Its importance speaks of inclusion. I'm getting a little ahead of myself. This important word is shaping the way I now think about everyone else and how I am also thinking about myself these days. First of all allow me to give you a little history. As I have reflected on my upbringing, like a lot of people growing up in the United States and particularly the deep south, church, religion, Sunday school, evangelism and probably a host of other words that perhaps come to mind, helped to shape the way we were led to think. It really didn't matter what church one attended or whether church was even on one's weekly schedule, what we experienced "in" life colored the way we saw one another. It seemed that we entered a segregated world filled with rules and expectations. Have you ever watched children playing on a public playground or one of those fast food enclosed play areas? I have observed children, being total strangers, playing with one another and having a lot of fun. It mattered not about culture or race or religion. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for my upbringing. It has certainly aided me along my journey and that brings me to the point of this entry. I would like to share with you how that seemingly small insignificant two letter word "in" has radically changed my thinking and my life.

 You can probably go back "in" your memory and perhaps list experiences you have had that changed your path or your course. Sometimes the changes may have been very painful. Regardless, those course changes have affected the way you think now. The way we think about ourselves "in" relationship to everyone else dictates our path. If you think that what you think cannot be perceived by others you are sadly mistaken. I remember some verse in the Bible that indicates as a person thinks so are they and if you think a certain way it will not be long before that thought crosses your lips or surfaces in your behavior. If you love, guess what? If you hate, well you know.

Some years ago I experienced an encounter that was of a spiritual nature. I had been seeking spiritual guidance from God for weeks. One Saturday morning I was home by myself. As I was meditating I sensed that I was not alone although I did not see anyone. I was so convinced of not being alone I addressed this presence with the question, "what about my shortcomings?" Obviously, I was concerned about my past sins and whether these sins stood in the way of my relationship and fellowship with God. What happened next I will always remember. I heard a voice in my spirit tell me rather commandingly to get my Bible. I did not hesitate. I reached for a hardbound copy of an Amplified Bible. The next instructions, "now turn to Ephesians!" I recall being so enthralled with being given these instructions to start with I wanted to hear more instructions. So I asked, "Where in Ephesians?" There was only silence. So I decided to turn to the first chapter. There was a red circle around the number seven indicating the seventh verse of the first chapter. I knew I had not drawn this circle around the number seven but the Bible used to belong to my mother, perhaps she drew it. At any rate this is what I read. "In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor." To say the least I lost my composure when I came to the word "shortcomings." I thought to myself, whoever or whatever was present with me must have heard my question. After regaining my composure I once again heard what became the last instruction that morning. The voice said, "Now turn to Revelation." Knowing that this book is the last one in the Bible I swept my hand across the pages and it landed on the last page of the book. There were no numbers circled in red. My attention somehow was drawn to the sixteenth verse of chapter twenty two and this is what it says, "I, Jesus, have sent my messenger (angel) to you to witness and to give you assurance of these things..." The verse continues but somehow that was as far as I needed to read. 

What the apostle Paul recorded in Galatians 1:16 sums up his gospel message. From the Mirror Translation it reads, "This is the heart of the gospel that I proclaim; it began with an unveiling of sonship "in" me freeing me to announce the same sonship "in" the masses of non-Jewish people..." When I awakened to the reality that this Jesus has been "in" me from my very beginning changes everything I now understand concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ!