The Promise by Mike Saylor

No one, and I mean no one, has wanted Spring to come more than me.  And now that the snow is melting, my feelings aren't those of joy or euphoria, but simply of relief--not unlike the feeling I have when I finish running a marathon, a feeling that goes something like this: Finally, it’s over! Thank God, it’s over!  I never want to do that again!

Such are my thoughts on this winter now past.  Welcome, Spring!  It’s great to have you here!

But I will say this: when the snow was covering the ground, it sure was nice to look at--especially when compared to the ugly, matted, soggy brownness currently known as my backyard.  Yeah, the yard is a mess.  I was taking a close look at it today and what I saw wasn't pretty. Oh, I know it has potential, I know that it will green-up here soon, but right now it needs some work, that is for sure.

And then the analogy hit me. What I see when I look at the current state of my backyard is similar to what God sees when He looks at the human race (which includes you, of course).  

Have you ever spent any time going through God’s Word and asking yourself, “What does God think of me?”  Such a question isn't for the faint of heart, because the Lord in His Word gives us a brutally honest answer, as He does in the book of Romans, chapter 3.

Romans 3:10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

11     there is no one who understands;

   there is no one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away,

   they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good...

By the way, the Bible describes “righteousness” as a pure, clean, whiteness--not unlike new snow on the ground.  We, as humans who have been corrupted by sin (that happened with Adam and Eve, if you remember that biblical story) are unrighteous in God’s sight.  In other words, we’re just like my backyard:  ugly and messy and not attractive at all.

But I haven’t told you worst part yet.  We’re not talking about a cosmetic, superficial ugliness; rather, we humans are ugly to the core, full of greed and jealousy and everything self-centered. The closer we honestly look at ourselves, especially when measured with the standards given to us in Scripture (aka the 10 Commandments), the more we see that we are very ugly indeed.  Again, just like my yard.

As I looked closer at the backyard, I saw that which is pretty much unspeakable.  You see, we have a dog.  And my dog, at least from what I see in the backyard, has a really healthy appetite. The snow had covered it, but now my dog’s “calling cards” are in plain view.

And that is just yuck.  

And, frankly, so are you.  And so am I.  And that’s how God sees His fallen and failed creation.  

The critical question, then, isn't "what should we do about our ugliness?"  The important question is, "what has God done about the ugliness of our sin?"

What He has done is pretty amazing.  

He sent His Son into this nasty, filthy world.  Jesus became one of us (that’s the Christmas story, if you remember) except without the stink of sin.  He came to earth not to condemn us but to save us from our sin (which Jesus would do through His death on the cross on Good Friday and His resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday) and to begin the process of making us what God had intended us to be all along.

Think again of my disgusting backyard.  It’s not going to stay that way.  I’m going to clean the poo, rake up the leaves, etc., and Spring is going to do its thing as well.  The dormant grass will become green. The flowers and trees will come to life and take on the beautiful shades of color we love and enjoy.  Everything will be made different, better, new.

And Jesus can (and does) do the same thing with you.  

My experience as a pastor has been that many people feel they need to “get right” with God before they can expect God to hear their prayers or do anything good for them.  Nothing could be more wrong.  The Bible tells us that it’s while we were ugly, stinking sinners that Jesus died for us!  Maybe you've never realized it, but He’s done great things for you already!  He’s given you a Savior and He’s paid the price for all of your sins through the work of Jesus Christ.  

So think of it: because of Jesus, when God looks at you now, He doesn't see the ugliness of a backyard in March, but the pristine beauty of a yard covered with fresh, white snow.  He doesn't see your sin, but instead Jesus' righteousness.  

And what has been promised to His forgiven people is that He’s going to make us into something special. He’s going to make us to be like Jesus: without sin and full of eternal hope.

And that’s even better than the promise of Spring, don’t you think?  It’s the promise God has made to you.