Like many of you, I richly enjoy the month of December and all the festivities that come with it. But there’s one thing I don’t enjoy: the letdown.
The letdown that comes from knowing that it’s over. Eventually, we had to put up all our dishes and clean up the games.
We had to say goodbye to family and friends. It’s the same reason why the last day of vacation is always the worst.
It’s because you know something you’ve anticipated for weeks, months, even years, is now over. In contrast, one of the best parts about faith is that there is never a letdown. It never ends; it always gets better.
In fact, wouldn’t you agree, the Lord is the master of what comes after. Consider the ways this is revealed to us in Scripture:
- Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. They separated a perfect God from his perfect creation. Yet after their sin, God chased them down asking, “Where are you, Adam?”, demonstrating a desire to forgive and rebuild.
- Jacob stole the birthright from his brother, Esau. He lied and cheated. He brought division to his family. He upended God’s design for family order. Yet after Jacob stole the birthright, God used him to build his nation.
- Lazarus was a dead man. He was placed in a tomb. Yet, after Christ spoke, he walked out of the grave.
- And after it looked like the Evil One had been victorious as Christ suffered and died on the cross, on the third day, the stone was rolled away, the grave clothes were lying on the floor, and that tomb was empty, because Jesus is the master of what comes after.
Today I believe we are called to reflect this attribute of God. Here’s what it looks like:
1) After dying to self, live like a new creation. When we accept Christ, the Bible tells us we were baptized into death. That’s what Paul tells us in Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” If you want to experience the full joy of being born again, you’ve got to say no to the old self and choose to live like you’re a new creation.
2) After sinning, fully receive his forgiveness. If there is one thing that will hamper your spiritual growth it’s the power of guilt. Satan longs for you to feel guilty. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a good kind of guilt. It’s the guilt we should all feel after we have knowingly sinned against the Lord.
But once you’ve identified the sin, once you’ve repented from it, once you’ve asked the Lord to cleanse you of that sin, move on. He’s forgiven you. The punishment for sin has been removed.
3) After being sinned against, extend forgiveness. You probably don’t get along with everybody. You probably don’t see eye to eye with everybody. You’re probably going to be wronged by someone close to you. When that happens, if you believe in the power of a God who is the master at what comes after, allow God’s Spirit to equip you to forgive your brother or sister, and extend the grace that’s been extended to you.
4) After praying, trust God to move. When we pray, after we say amen, sometimes we continue to worry. Sometimes we even try to manipulate the situation to our benefit. But when you pray, and when you offer your burden to the Lord, leave it there. Put it in his hands. Trust that he will move.
1 Peter 5:10 reads, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
He indeed is the master of what comes after.
Columbus’ Justin White is senior minister at First Christian Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.