I had a great Father’s Day. It all started on Saturday evening really. All my children and grandchildren showed up Saturday evening, and I cooked (something wrong with that picture) for them. I got some great gifts: a cordless drill, my backyard sprayed for mosquitos (my son is the “Skeeter Beeter”), a gift card to Lowe’s (what guy doesn’t want a gift card from a home improvement store), and a bag of my favorite candy (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, if you’re wondering). I also got a hammock for my back yard, which is where we spent most of our time Saturday evening (in the back yard, not in the hammock). Actually, we spent most of the time on my back porch.
When I got home from church yesterday, guess where I spent most of my time. That’s right! On my back porch. I love my back porch. I call it my back porch because that’s what it used to be called when I was growing up as a kid. I think people these days are calling them “outdoor living spaces.” What’s that about? I’m trying to figure out what distinguishes an “outdoor living space” from a back porch. I couldn’t find “outdoor living space” in the dictionary, so I googled the phrase. I discovered a plethora of sites that could help me design my outdoor living space. Some even showed me photographs. One even said I could turn my patio into an incredible outdoor living space.
So, a patio needs to be transformed in order to become an outdoor living space? I suppose all that time we spent on our patio at the District parsonage over the past two years was not considered outdoor living, since we hadn’t transformed it. Or, had we? I had a fire pit and patio furniture. Does that count? I also had a grill (we love to grill!). We had little globe lights hanging across the gutters (a trick we stole from a Mexican restaurant). We even had a butane heater to add heat in the cold of winter so we could enjoy the patio. Or, was that an outdoor living space? I’m not sure.
I guess an outdoor living space doesn’t necessarily have to be on the back porch or the patio. From looking at all the pictures that google provided, I would say an outdoor living space could be just about anywhere you wanted to put it. I wonder if a lawn chair in the back yard with a can of Off would qualify? Is it the cooking that makes it outdoor living? Is it the patio furniture that qualifies it as an official “living space.” Maybe it’s the television. I saw very few “outdoor living spaces” that didn’t have a TV (yes, I have a TV on my back porch–watched NASCAR and the U. S. Open between naps yesterday).
I did find “back porch” in the dictionary. You know what a back porch is? It’s a porch for the back door. I have a back door. It has a porch. Call it by any other name, it’s still a back porch. That’s where I spent my Father’s Day afternoon, and I loved it.
I find myself treating my sin the same way. I figure if I can change the name of what I’m doing…call it something else, then it won’t be sin. I can call it entertainment. I can call it a half-truth, or a little white lie. I can call it an affair. I can call it a lifestyle choice. I can even call it fun and fulfilling, but at the end of the day, I’m still left with the guilt of knowing I haven’t been obedient to the call of God on my life. Yeah, I know. The Greek word used for sin in the Bible literally means “to miss the mark.” Yeah, I missed the mark, but at the end of the day, there was a mark, and most days I miss it. Call it what I will, it’s still sin, and it needs to be dealt with.
Only God could deal with it. He did. On the cross at Calvary. Through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s exclamation in Romans 7: 21 “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord...”
I come to the end of the day, and I rely totally on His grace. I confess that I’ve missed the mark, that I’ve sinned and fallen short. I ask for strength to know a better way, and I rest in the joy of His forgiveness, not because I’ve confessed, but because His grace is sufficient. Oh! How I need His grace!
Grace. Now there’s a word we don’t want to call by any other name.
Until next time, keep looking up…