It’s a weird and bizarre world.  The weight of sin this past week has been so evident.  My prayer has been that every evil and bad thing on the news might drive believers and non-believers to their knees before God, as we acknowledge Him, His love, His forgiveness, and His grace in the midst of so much terror and tragedy.

As murder and terror and floods and tragedy claim more lives, and as decent people seem all too eager to debate fault and politics, I am at a place this morning where I must simply rely on God’s Word being what Jesus says it is.  As His time on earth was nearing its end, Jesus prayed to the Father about us: “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”  [John 17:17]  There is no way we deserve that kind of prayerful consideration, yet Jesus’ love and forgiveness and grace are greater than our sin.  As God’s own, we are redeemed.

Did you see "America’s Got Talent" a couple of weeks ago?  An interesting story of redemption was told in less than a minute, along with the song that followed.  The Edgar Family (mom, dad, and daughter) sang an old Pretenders song, “I’ll Stand by You.”  The explanation of why they chose this song should make every Christian sit up and pay attention.  The mother said she was a Christian singer and ended up getting pregnant and being a teen mom, so she was basically kicked out of the Christian music industry.  Lots of people gave up on her and life got messy.  She admitted to making bad decisions, and it has taken her over a decade to get turned around again.  “However,” she said, “God’s grace is bigger than anything.”

So there was mom, the teenage girl who was her “mistake,” and the man she later married who became the adopting dad.  They are now an intact family, and that night they were witnessing in an auditorium full of folks (many of whom may have never heard the message if she had gone her anticipated way years earlier).  And the audience loved their singing and their message.  What the good Christians had judged and rejected as damaged goods, the world embraced.  Isn’t that kind of response what good Christians ought to be about…if we believe in God’s love and forgiveness and grace?  Maybe that’s why Jesus seemed more comfortable with the outsiders than with the “churchy folks.”

When the Edgar Family sang “I’ll Stand by You,” I wonder who they were really thinking about.  The Lord maybe, because, well, that is what He does.  But maybe as they sang, they had in mind all those people in the audience who identified with their mistakes – sinners who understood.  They truly were standing by her, because by the time the song ended they were giving the Edgars a standing ovation.  [ search “Edgar Family America’s Got Talent”]  I wish there could be a close-up shot of each person standing there, cheering loudly with tears running down their faces.  I wish we could see them, those sinners who understand.  Because if they all stood up together in Madisonville and Hopkins County and across the nation and around the world, do you know who they would be?  You, me, and all those Jesus asked His Father to sanctify by truth.  The same Jesus who told His followers, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest.”  [John 4:35]

Be a summer blessing, friends!