Year after year family photographs were captured, always with one family member absent as someone had to operate the camera. The boys were attired in their once-a-year suits and ties. We girls had new dresses and white shoes which embarrassed me as my spindly legs made it appear as if I had unusually large feet at the ends of them. We were dressed up to go to church for Easter services. We regularly attended Sunday service, so the only difference on this particular day is that we would be especially dressed and it would be more difficult to sit on our right-side, third-row-from-the-front pew if we did not arrive earlier than usual because many more people would attend this day. The pre-service preparations involved the same flurry of activities as every other Sunday morning – the search for lost shoes and belts, the efforts to keep children clothed and still without spills or stains, and the prayer that one particular child would not get carsick on the way. It’s a wonder my mother ever was able to relax and worship once she entered the sanctuary doors.
While we did not attend a church rich in liturgical traditions, we were taught the true meaning of Easter and what the Lord’s Supper represented. The colored eggs and plastic grass in baskets and races to collect the greatest numbers did not detract from what I knew, even as a child, to be true. Jesus died for my sin. I placed my faith in Him early and throughout my struggles and challenges with life itself, this was and is the unwavering platform on which my feet remain firmly planted. And yet, I missed a critical truth even as every year we heard the messages of His death and resurrection and the hope and victory that this act secured for us.
It is finished.
Sin is conquered, death is defeated, the veil that once separated man from God has been removed giving free and unlimited access to Almighty God to all who will enter in. He sent His Spirit to indwell the imperfect people who would say yes to this, His invitation. He promised to never leave us or forsake us.
So in the process of the spiritual housecleaning that I’ve done over the last few years I’ve picked up and put down a particular piece that for a while I could not determine if it fit in this temple that is me. It is the idea that “sin separates us from God.” I’ve heard this throughout my life, continue to hear it frequently, and have been one to have said it as well.
Sin separates us from God. It sounds true. It feels true. It must be true. It was true before we came to accept this magnificent sacrifice. But as I’ve studied more deeply what Jesus said and did, I cannot find a place for this.
If Jesus paid the penalty for sin – ALL sin – how can my sin change my position with God? How can God move away from me if He promised to indwell me and to never leave or forsake me? Was the veil torn down only to be put up again and torn down again and put up again…?
It is finished.
Three beautiful words that cannot be reconciled with the idea that my sin brings back the veil. Does my sin matter? Yes. The call to repentance remains the same, but not because it is the only way to gain access to the Father again. We are to repent – to change our minds about sin – in order that we can live fully in the forgiveness purchased for us. We repent so that we can receive the fullness of the blessings offered us as His children in this lifetime and beyond, to have a right mind and a soul that is free from the burdens that sin will most surely heap upon us, and to enjoy the peace that comes with a heart ready to do His will.
I have lived with a great deal of separation anxiety because of this misunderstanding, when all the while He was right there with me. I’ve lived in fear of His absence as there were no more sorrowful words on the day of His death than “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” It was agony for Jesus to be separated from His Father. But it was an agony He endured so that we would not have to. He is with us, faithfully leading us in the ways of righteousness, correcting – not condemning – us when we sin. He knew we would. Yet He has chosen a position of unfathomable mercy and extravagant love that will abide – make a permanent home – in all who will allow it.
It is finished. This is the truth. This is the truth that sets us free. Free indeed!
“Separation anxiety” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com