Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A real passion and obsession for righteousness - a reflection on 1 Peter 2:24 with a story from Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempt to travel to the South Pole, an observation and a prayer.

SCRIPTURE: 1 Peter 2:24
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

In the Antarctic summer of 1908-9, Sir Ernest Shackleton and three companions attempted to travel to the South Pole from their winter quarters. They set off with four ponies to help carry the load. Weeks later, their ponies dead, rations all but exhausted, they turned back toward their base, their goal not accomplished.

Altogether, they trekked 127 days. On the return journey, as Shackleton records in The Heart of the Antarctic, the time was spent talking about food -- elaborate feasts, gourmet delights, sumptuous menus. As they staggered along, suffering from dysentery, not knowing whether they would survive, every waking hour was occupied with thoughts of eating. Jesus, who also knew the ravages of food deprivation, said,

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS." We can understand Shackleton's obsession with food, which offers a glimpse of the passion Jesus intends for our quest for righteousness.

And our Lenten journey continues … this dying to sin and living for righteousness is a lot easier to state than it is to realize. Combined with this living for righteousness comes the promise that we are healed.

Heal means for me – to be made whole. When our bodies hurt and we are less than originally created to be. When disease takes hold and we have difficulty seeing tomorrow. When the seams of our existence are coming unraveled. When our desires cannot matchup with reality. We begin to pray for healing … never realizing that just possibly what we are praying for is directly linked to righteousness. We want the cake without the calories.

It is also helpful, at least for this old preacher, to realize that healing, when it comes, arrives in various and a wide range of packages. Sometimes it is physical, but sometimes it is spiritual, emotional or relational. All healing is not physical. God brings healing in the way that truly benefits us the most … if we would but open ourselves to what God is offering instead of trying to limit him to just one particular area of our lives.

And so the question for our Lenten journey is do we desire righteousness with the same passion that we think of food? Therein lies the power of healing … at least that is how I see it.

Create in us a desire for righteousness. May it consume us. May it possess us. May it be our only goal on our journey.

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