“The Lord passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.” Exodus 34:6
Tragically, my cousin, 62 like me, drowned this past week in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja in Mexico. He was by all accounts a great swimmer and was not unfamiliar with handling strong surf and rough seas. On this day it was rough enough for his friend watching from the beach to stay out of the water. No one is quite sure what exactly happened next. The friend’s attention was diverted briefly, and when looking again saw my cousin floating face down in the sea. Several joggers on the beach helped pull him in, but could not revive him; nor could medical personnel some time later. The conjecture is that a “rogue wave” hit him full force taking him to the bottom and holding him down for a time. There was blunt trauma to his chest, damaging his heart, from the blow of the water and then the sea floor. Like many tragic events involving loved ones or others we do not always find fully satisfying answers to our questions this side of heaven.
I have no knowledge that my cousin had any certainty of salvation, nor pursued a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus’ own testimony was and is, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me.” My cousin’s sister has such a conviction and a living relationship with Jesus Christ. She often shared her faith with her brother and it is her great desire, as mine, that he cried out to the Lord even in the midst of his trauma. The doctors said he lived possibly ten minutes after being hit by the wave.
I did not know my cousin’s heart, but I do know my own. My own experience tells me that the hearts of men and women in the normal course of life do not naturally place a priority on pursuing forgiveness for their sin as though their life depended on it. In fact, it does! Yet in most people’s busy race in life for meaning, amusement, and identity, all other pursuits far exceed pursuing forgiveness from God. If there is any weight of conscience at all, it is numbed with the mistaken opinion that if there is a God, He will take care of it without any regard or involvement from me. After all, isn’t that His job? If it is my problem, in the final result God will brush it off. Isn’t that what a “loving” God does? Without much effort to think or consider many are seemingly content to roll the dice in the face of the most readily available truth to the contrary.
When or even if we pray to God, “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us,” it is not a mere religious platitude without any value in determining your destiny. The necessity of God’s forgiveness impacts everyone whether they choose to acknowledge its truth or not. If it is their committed choice or choice by default to ignore Him and the guilt of their own sin, this text from the book of Exodus does not mince words when it says: “He will by no means clear the guilty!” A bold presumption of mercy from God while ignoring and repudiating His act of cleansing and forgiveness through His Son Jesus, is the greatest deception of willful ignorance in the history of the human race. Jesus described this kind of thinking in the Sermon on the Mount, “Broad is the gate that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) In fact, there is a proud rush for the broad gate, intentionally passing by the narrow gate that leads to life. Man knows not his time, but you can make a choice today to not be numbered among the ranks of the “guilty” when that time comes. Continual procrastination flirts dangerously with the unanticipated “rogue wave.” On the other hand, God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
“Heavenly Father, I want to be ready for any “rogue wave” if or when it comes. May I get right with You now, not waiting for some future time.”
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