A few years ago,Wade, our oldest son and Pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid Oklahoma, preached a message from his series in Genesis dealing with the failure of Abraham to speak the truth about his wife, calling her his sister out of fear for his own life. His son later did the same thing. So Wade addressed "generational sins." [With a distinction between sins and curses.] It was a superb message and one every Christian should hear. You can__ by going to the Emmanuel web-site and checking the archives of the Genesis series__and I hope you do.
In the course of the message, Wade told a story, with my blessing, that caught vividly MY struggle with anger as a besetting sin in my life as it had been in my fathers. It was of an incident when I, while pastoring a large Church in Texas over thirty years ago, got out of the car on I-35 while driving back to Texas from Oklahoma with Mary, my wife and Wade's mother, because she and I were arguing. [We were alone in the car that trip.] I was not controlling my temper, as was the case too much of the time in those days.
So she drove off__wise decision and completely biblical since we are commanded to not keep company with an angry man__and I was left to hitch-hike home alone. And I did. Not the stuff from which biographies of great and godly men are made, but the truth nonetheless.
It was at that time and because of that incident that I knew I had to get serious, again, about God working in my life and started the painful process of facing, repenting [genuinely] and removing the particular besetting sin of anger from my life. I'm grateful, as are all the Burlesons, including Wade and his three siblings, that God has worked. But the process came neither quickly nor easily.
Wade told that story and did so with a forgiving spirit, while taking responsibility for his own besetting sin and showing sins CAN be generational unless one chooses to stop them with honesty, repentance,and removal. As I said, a superb and needed message by all.
Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, I'll tell you "The rest of the story." Even Wade doesn't know what I'm about to reveal. But it's true as well.
I was broken-hearted during that trip home hitch-hiking. You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to know the sin and utter stupidity of what I had done and was doing. But it did take the Grace of God to genuinely grieve over it. I've come to see the presence of God's Grace in one's life is not evidenced by no longer failing/sinning but, rather by being broken over it. Much as Lot was "vexed in his righteous soul" by the deeds of those around him. [And his own later. 2 peter 2] In that manner will a true believer be "vexed." I was.
So much so that when I got home later and found Mary gone doing errands, I hid in the garage until she returned so the kids would not know we didn't come home together. [It wasn't godly repentance yet as you can see by my actions.] It was sometime later I got honest and then even later that I related it to Wade as he told it correctly in his message. The cloak of secrecy still prevailed for awhile unfortunately. Someone has said you are as unhealthy as you are secretive. I think they are right. I wasn't healthy quite yet.
Now for more of the Grace part. While hitch-hiking home that day, I was picked up by a business man. We started conversing and he realized I was not a bum hitch-hiking across country but was, in fact, educated and knowledgeable. [Though far more stupid than he knew.] I did not reveal that I was a Pastor for obvious shameful and self-protecting reasons. We talked. One thing led to another. Before much time went by we were pulled over to the side of the road and, with my hand on his shoulder, he wept his way into repentance and faith gifted to him of God in that providential moment. he took me to my home and went on his way rejoicing.
I tell you this NOT to take away the sting of my own failure and sin. The Cross has done that. But to remind all of us, as I was reminded that day, that our God isn't waiting until we have it all together before He pours His Grace through us. But has stated and shows us in His providence the reality that where sin abounds, Grace DOES much more abound.
Some may think this being said might take away from the responsibility of wrong/sinful actions on my part. Not at all! But my thinking is that it does remind us of "why" we can be honest, repentant, and broken over our sins. There IS no reason to fear His anger. That was poured out on Jesus. Grace is poured out on us. You can trust Him enough to be honest about yourself.
In the context of Wade's sermon on Abraham that day, "she is my wife, not my sister, but I lied about it and am ashamed of that fact," can be shared with a son, daughter, spouse, friend, BECAUSE God's love DOES cover a multitude of sins. So those sons/daughters can hear one generation speak to another generation of their own failures/sins against the backdrop of His work on the Cross. "Freedom" is what that really amounts to. It's like coming out of the bushes [Adam] and saying the truth about whose fault it really was. [What if Adam had said 'mine'?] God works in that context, Graciously.
Thanks Wade for a great message and a great reminder for all of us, and to me personally, why His Grace truly is "amazing."