Did you ever score really big on a deal? I mean, so good you can hardly believe it? Here’s one you can take to the bank.

It’s hard when one reaches a certain age and realizes that some decisions he’s made… or several hundred decisions he’s made, or actions he’s taken, or words he’s spoken… have led him to what seems like the end of the road.  It’s even worse when he looks back and sees that those decisions, actions, words, have left wreckage behind him that has damaged the people he’s loved the most in this world.  This feeling will rob you of all hope, if you let it.

Feeling this way allows you to believe a pretty big lie:  God, who knew you before you were ever born, abandoned you once he found out what a screwup you were.  God has been disappointed in you.  You have separated yourself from God by your own stupid, selfish actions. This is why you’ve ruined everything you’ve ever touched, damaged everyone you’ve ever come in contact with. God is real, but the reality of God for you is… you’re not good enough, and God can’t bless someone like you.

Try wiggling out from under that one. Hint — don’t bother. You can’t, not by yourself, anyway.

So I’m driving along this morning and God says to me, “I’ve been listening to all those noises in your head about all the messed up things you’ve done in your lifetime, and how they’ve brought you to where you are now.  And I’m acutely aware that despite all My blessings (which includes forgiveness, by the way), you still, at this hour, continue to ignore them and dwell on the brokenness.  Why is that, do you suppose?  Do you not believe in Me at all?”

He continues, “Is there any portion of what you’ve been dwelling on that sounds like Me?  You know enough about Me to know that I never come across that way.  There isn’t anything about Me, or between Me and you, that would ever sound like accusation or condemnation, or that I don’t love you with all my heart.”

And then comes the gift:  God says, “I’m going to do another deal with you.  I want you to exchange those feelings of self-loathing for expressions of love for Me.  One for one, quid pro quo.  Every time you hear something in your head that means to convict you for a past wrong, immediately praise Me and worship Me.  Don’t even worry about trying to fight that stray thought.  Just make a noise, raise your voice in the joy of Me.  I guarantee you, the simple act of praising Me will make every ugly thought flee.”

“Because you see, beloved, those ugly, hopeless thoughts aren’t from you… and they definitely aren’t from Me.  They’re from your enemy, who takes great pleasure in hearing you sigh, moan and cry about old stuff that doesn’t exist any more.  It’s like the enemy wants you to cry about a bridge that collapsed years ago that now has been rebuilt and is ready for heavy traffic.”

“Instead of dwelling on lies about YOU, dwell on the truth of ME.  Tell Me all the things you know to be true about Me.  Am I good?  Do I love unquestioningly, unhesitatingly and unconditionally?  Did Jesus die so that you might never have to walk another step without Me, in this life and thereafter? And this guy Jesus, who’s sitting next to me right now in Heaven, telling Me about what a blessed child of Mine you are… is He real?  Is He your savior?  Well, if all that’s true (and I assure you it is), let’s talk about that for a while.  I find all the other stuff you keep bringing up boring, because I don’t know anything about it.  From now on, let’s stay on topics where I can be a part of the conversation.  Like how much I love you, and how many really awesome things you and I are going to do together.”

“Oh, and by the way… tell all your friends. I’ll do this deal with them all day long, every day.”

What an amazing gift!  After all these years, I’ve been given a bulletproof method of rejecting condemnation.  Because condemnation can’t exist in an atmosphere of praise and worship!  Isn’t this stunning?  Actually, it’s better than that.  I not only become immune to condemnation, I express love for God (which is always satisfying), I get happy in the act of praising, and the enemy flees from me, defeated!  Home run!

Thank you, Heavenly Father.  I accept this gift.  I will, of course, need Your help, because that particular “condemnation” thought stream is continuous, a very dangerous “dis-information superhighway” straight from the enemy to me.  But with Your help, Lord, I’ll be able to automatically switch into praise mode whenever I hear the enemy start to talk.

You know, this could be fun.  There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a bully run away from you.  Bring it on, enemy… would you like to hear a nice song about Jesus?  I didn’t think so.