An explorer hikes to a campsite and pitches her tent. She hikes one mile due south, turns, walks one mile due east, turns, walks one mile due north – and finds herself back at camp. Where did she pitch her tent?
Maybe you figured out the answer is the North Pole. Many teachers use the riddle to teach that north and south meet at the poles of our planet. Strangely, though, east never meets west.
I came across that riddle in a marketing piece I recently received at my office. I get all kinds of literature. Some of it has sound principles, some of it… well, let’s just say it’s as far as east is from the west. But this particular one spoke to me. It helped remind me that I should let go of some things that were holding my thoughts and actions captive.
The writer of Psalms uses the distance between east and west as an analogy for just how much God loves us and the length to which He goes to remove our transgression, our acts of sin, from us.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12
No matter how many time we circle the globe, east never meets west. So, surely too, when God removes our transgression, it is gone. He remembers it no more.
Do you believe that? Even so, do past sins sometime trouble you? Most of us find ourselves haunted in this way from time to time.
Reminders of what we once said, or how we once acted towards someone; or what someone else may have said or acted toward us. The reminders may fly up in our faces unexpectedly. We try to avoid running into a particular person or visiting a particular place because of those haunting memories. We live with regret over missed opportunities to offer help, comfort, or healing. East is chasing west. We dread e’er the two may meet.
If you’ve ever felt like that, the Holy Spirit wants to assure you today that Christ took away your transgression when, by faith, you accepted His saving gift of salvation God provided on the cross. Your guilt is gone, your sins are taken away. Your shame must flee. (If you haven’t accepted His gift, well, there’s no better time than the present.)
Knowing our Lord’s immeasurable mercy toward us in Christ, we can extend that mercy to those around us. How could you do that today? How far would you go? As far as the east is from the west? Perhaps you only need to go just across the street, the hall, or to the person sitting next to you.
Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, you took our sins and nailed them on the cross. They dissolved when your Son said “it is finished.” His arms spread wide reminds me that your love reaches as far as the east is from the west. Help us dear Lord to say that is how far we are willing to go to share your love with others. In Christ’s name. Amen