This is the one-hundred-seventy-eighth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
“We wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:13-14
At the height of his singing career, Johnny Cash was one of the most recognizable faces and voices in the world. But Cash became an out-of-control drug addict and loathed himself for it. One day he decided to end it all. He went to a cave system by the Tennessee River called Nickajack cave. He crawled, walked, and shimmied deeper and deeper into the labyrinth, determined to go on until his flashlight died—which it did. Later, Cash wrote: “I was as far from God as I have ever been. My separation from him, the deepest and most ravaging of the various kinds of loneliness I’d ever felt over the years, seemed complete.”
But then something happened in him. With a sense of utter peace and sobriety, he realized that he was not in charge of his own destiny. He started crawling in the direction he had come from, and hours later feeling a breeze and seeing light, he realized God would save him too from that grave. As he emerged into the light of day where he had abandoned his Jeep, there his mother and close friend were waiting.
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In Christ, God has made redemption possible. It’s never too late for us. We’re never too far gone. God is never too far away. As Titus 2 says, Christ was given to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify us. Johnny Cash knew that someone greater than he needed to break him free. Somebody stronger needed to supply the price to set him free. A lot of people don’t hit rock bottom the way he did, and so they don’t have a sense of the nearness of wickedness or the need for purification. But the cave starts getting dark just a few steps in.
Now is the time—every day is the time—to accept by faith the redemption from wickedness and the purifying power of Christ.
Sometime today take a few minutes to pray and think in a very dark room (the darker the better). Tell God where you need the light of his truth and purity in your life and how you need guidance. Think about the future “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.