Many of us here on the east coast are dealing with the double-header aftermath of last week’s earthquake and hurricane combo. Talk about a one-two punch! Some of us have come through with scratches, while others have had evacuations, flooding, and loss of property. Thankfully, it wasn’t quite as bad as was originally expected, but for someone standing in three feet of water in their basement, bailing all night because the electricity that powered their sump pump went off, it’s a little harder to stop and count the blessings of what has been left in the aftermath.
Aftermath – there’s an interesting word. What does it mean? Well, the dictionary definition is: A noun – (1) something that results or follows from an event, especially one of a disastrous; (2) a new growth of grass following one or more mowings, which may be grazed, mowed, or plowed under. Some synonyms include: results, consequences, outcome, upshot, repercussion, after effects.
Sin is often like an upcoming storm. We frequently know about it ahead of time – there are warnings (a troubled spirit, feeling uncomfortable, the temptation that we know we should avoid). The Holy Spirit sends those forewarnings to our hearts, and we know we should evacuate the premises of temptation immediately and run straight into the safety and shelter of our Lord’s arms. Sometimes pride tells us we can “ride it out” and we stay, thinking we can fight it in our own strength. Sometimes, like surfers riding the large pre-hurricane waves, we play with the sin just a bit. All too often (and I write this with far too much experience to count), we give in to the sin and it wipes us out. Perhaps no one knows but you and God. But sin always impacts, and the aftermath is always there. Like a single drop of water on a glass-smooth lake, the ripples flow, touching the entire surface of the body of water. Make no mistake, sin will ripple out and affect your life, your walk with the Lord, your family and friends and co-workers, and its aftermath can be disastrous, wreaking unbelievable havoc that you never thought could happen.
David knew all about that – just read his account of his seemingly secret one-night-stand with Bathsheba in Psalm 51. What began as one act of illicit passion turned into an unexpected pregnancy, lies, and murder. Yet read further and find that, in his brokenness, David still hoped in the Lord, in His forgiveness and restoration. In the New Testament in 1 John 1:9, we can rejoice that no matter what, we are forgiven when we confess our sins and repent: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
As you stand in the rubble of the aftermath of your sin, you can take comfort in God’s grace, knowing God loves you and through the grace of Christ we can be forgiven and forever cleansed of that sin. That being said, however, there are times we must deal with the consequences of our sins, whatever they may be. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us, but we are responsible for our choices, and they can’t always be wiped away like magic, like they just never happened. But like the second definition of aftermath says, new growth can come from an aftermath. Think about how the forest recuperates and often thrives after a forest fire. It may take awhile, but it does happen. Our choices can also be like the opportunities of the aftermath – will you allow it to plow you under with shame, or will you learn and grow from it, and allow God to work in your life as He sees fit in order that you grow stronger? The choices all belong to you. What will you choose today?