I went to church this past Sunday. I heard a fine sermon on the essential truth Christ is of the substance of God, One with the Father. The meaning extracted from this truth as the preacher highlighted is to whom should I give authority in my life. I thought the sermon was a fine reminder and assurance God loves us enough to redeem us. Fed by sermon and liturgy, the service ended, and my wife and I departed to find food and have brunch.
The restaurant we chose greeted us with a 30-minute wait. So, we left and walked to a local diner next door. Walking into the 1960’s, the room offered a delightful, visual composition complete with torn two-seater booths and red vinyl stools along a wood-grained laminate counter. The seating arrangements could only be described as intimate, no place to share secrets if concealing them was your aim. This was a gathering place. A coat of paint would have brightened the room, but then, why would you? Sometimes it’s good to walk back in time.
Settling into a two-seater, we ordered, and the intimacy of the room began to impose itself. My wife could not help but hear the conversation behind her, and I, the dialogue next to me between two men sitting at the counter. Attempting to feign disinterest, eavesdropping could not be helped. Proximity just would not allow else. I tuned in. Of the two men, the older was doing all the talking, pouring in wisdom to the younger. And then, I heard it—Jesus loves us no matter what. I realized I was attending church all over again listening to another fine sermon in a place Jesus would have frequented.
And it dawned on me, when Jesus loves us, the problem we have is loving Jesus back, and not just loving Him back but getting back. The sermon stuck—both.
The Hebrew word for way is derek. Hebrew words often have multiple meanings. Instructive for me in my two sermons is the context for usage of this word. Jesus said he is the way. I believe this. All the other alternatives available and taken by the crowd seem pointless and fleeting. But reading in Genesis the other morning, the word derek lifted from the page. No, I was not reading Hebrew, but the translation used the word “way.” I perked up.
It read, “So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).
And the light went on. There is a way back. The way to the garden is not closed, only safeguarded for God’s children to return. Christ points the way. Our path is not predetermined. The choice is always in front of us whether we’re non-Christians, doubting Christians, backsliding believers, or some cultural icon worshipper.
And the truth is, there is no 30-minute wait.