There is both good and bad in the fact that the cross has become a very familiar sight in our world. We see it everywhere we turn from buildings to jewelry. The message of the cross is so simple a child can understand, yet it is so rich that even if we were to spend every waking moment of our entire lives studying it we would fail to mine all the riches to be found there. In this series we will seek to mine some of those riches and spark a passion in each of us to pray as the hymn writer wrote “Jesus, keep me near the cross.”
As we wait for the 2nd advent of Christ God makes the most of our waiting. He desires that our love for Jesus would grow deeper and stronger as we wait on His return. The Psalmist offers a clinic of hopeful waiting that deepens our yearning for the presence of Christ in Psalm 27.
message text: John 14:1-14
message date: 02.14.10
In this 50th year of ministry for MorningStar Baptist Church we are celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ has been our all-sufficient source and solidifying this reality for the years to come. Jesus makes 7 sufficiency statements in the book of John. Jesus 6th sufficiency statement reminds us that our human quest for God ends in Him.
I was twelve when I first got to experience the wonders of Walt Disney World. Like most children I was enthralled by the whole experience. And like most kids, Epcot was not my favorite stop of the whole encounter. But there was one place at Epcot which so captivated me that I got lost there, both figuratively and literally. The place was the Imagination Station complete with a dragon by the name of Figment as my ‘personal’ tour guide. As a young boy in the early 80’s I literally thought I had died and gone to heaven wandering through the Imagination Station tinkering with all the gadgets, gizmos and games filling the building. If this wasn’t paradise then I didn’t want to know what was.
As I wandered through this fantasy land I lost all track of time. It could have been just a few minutes before I was jolted back to reality or could have literally been hours for all I know, but my journey to paradise was rudely interrupted when I realized that there were no familiar faces anywhere in sight. At first this wasn’t all that big a deal because I figured I had just wandered in a different direction than the rest of my family. I was certain I would see a glimpse of Mom, Dad or my sister coming around some corner at any minute. Imagination Station was big but it wasn’t that big. I had been taught that if I ever got separated from my family to stay put and they would come find me. So that is exactly what I did, but as the minutes stretched into over an hour and still I saw no sign of a familiar face anywhere this place that I had, just a short time ago, dreaded the thought of leaving was quickly becoming a place which I dreaded the thought of staying in. With each passing minute what was once a paradise became a prison.
What amazes me most about this whole experience is the fact that something which one moment seemed like heaven to me could so quickly transform into a living hell. When I entered Imagination Station my thoughts were filled with images of fascination, fantasy and joy, but with the realization that my family was nowhere to be found my thoughts shifted to terror over being alone, a stranger in a strange land. I no longer saw all the gadgets, gizmos and games. The lights no longer looked inviting and cool. And I no longer shared in the laughter and joy of those who were still immersed in the paradise I once knew. Now all I could think about was getting back what I had lost. But even that hope was clouded by uncertainty. What if my family had purposely left me? What if this was all a big plan they had laid to leave the ugly duckling in Florida to fend for himself while the rest of the family lived happily ever after back in the hills of Pennsylvania. It’s funny the irrational thoughts that go through your head in times of crisis and turmoil isn’t it? Yet, when I was just on the edge of the breaking point, in walked my father with a look of concern hidden behind his patent smile and I got to share in the happily ever after with the rest of my family back in the hills of Pennsylvania.
I wonder how many of us have had a similar experience. We find ourselves in a place in our lives in which we think something like, “If this isn’t paradise then I don’t want to know what is,” only to have something rudely interrupt our paradise experience and turn into something more akin to a living hell. That’s exactly what sin does with the good things God has created for us to enjoy. The only thing that changed in my experience at the Imagination Station was the disappearance of my family. The surroundings were still the same. The paradise was still there, but without the presence of my parents it was no longer a paradise. Sin removes the presence of our heavenly Father from the situation and leaves us all alone. The surroundings are still the same, the paradise is still there but without the presence of our heavenly Father the paradise can be nothing more than a prison.