LIFE’S LONG ROAD

Updated: Mar 4

I. We are just along for the ride

II. The destination is amazing


Romans 5:1-11 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we

have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we

have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we

rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice

in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4

perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not

disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the

Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when

we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will

anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might

possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been

justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s

wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were

reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having

been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so,

but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom

we have now received reconciliation.


LIFE’S LONG ROAD

I. We are just along for the ride II. The destination is amazing


It all began right here. Not at this baptismal font, but the font at St. Paul’s

Lutheran Church, Saginaw, Michigan on November 6, 1966. My physical life was then

just 18 days old and my spiritual life was just beginning.

At that point, I imagine my infant body had been washed numerous times by

nurses and parents, but now I was being washed in the waters of Holy Baptism, which

would make me clean and able to stand holy before God— washing away my sins and

clothing me with the righteous robe of Jesus’ salvation. I don’t know what kind of gifts

were given to me when I was born, but God tells me what kind of gifts were given to me

when I was re-born through baptism.


LIFE’S LONG ROAD

I. We are just along for the ride

II. The destination is amazing


2



Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with

God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith

into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of

God.

Just as helpless as I was as that 18-day-old baby to do anything for myself, so I

was helpless to earn any of these things for myself. That is why we rightly call them

“gifts”. Bestowed on me that day of my baptism was faith, justification, peace, access

to God and his grace, and hope! This list is so much more than anyone could ask for or

expect to receive!

On the day of my baptism, I could not walk or talk, but through faith I could

follow Jesus and call him my Savior. “I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my

mother conceived me” (Ps 51:5), but through baptism I was justified— declared not

guilty of my sins as Jesus stepped up and stepped in to live perfectly for me and to die

innocently for me to remove God’s guilty verdict from me. I was an enemy of God, but

through the redeeming work of Jesus, God reconciled me to himself and made me his

friend and established peace between us. I did not deserve anything good from him

because of my inborn sinfulness, but he gave me his grace at my baptism which now

enables me to call him my loving heavenly Father, to call myself his dear child and to call

on him in prayer. I had nothing to look forward to except my next meal and my next

diaper change, but he filled me with confident and sure hope for a life even greater and

more blessed than the life he gave me here on earth.

All of these baptismal gifts were won for me and came to me through the cross of

Jesus and point me back to his cross. On my spiritual life‘s long road, I was only along

for the ride. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died

for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good

man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us

in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The ultimate gift, the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate love was accomplished for

all by Jesus on the cross and awarded to me at my baptism. At the time of my baptism, I

didn’t comprehend that I would receive yet another gift. We don’t always see it as a gift

but Paul tells us we are to rejoice about it, so I guess it is. ...we also rejoice in our

sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.

Was I supposed to rejoice when my three older brothers quarreled with me and

made fun of me? What joy could I find in the emotional trauma and the physical harm

the bully caused me in grade school? Was I supposed to laugh when my newspaper route

customers were rude and their dogs were dangerous? Could I really rejoice when my

grandfather committed suicide, when one of my pastors died while still serving the

congregation, when one of my grade school classmates and her brother drowned in a

tragic accident?

Each one of these sufferings taught me about sin and its effects. Each one

included a lesson for me to learn. Each one was to build perseverance; perseverance,

character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has

poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

What a blessing from God to have continual reminders of his love for me

especially through the sufferings of life! Every Sunday, my parents led me down the

right side of the sanctuary to one of the front rows for worship so I could pray with them,


3 sing with them, learn with them. From Kindergarten through eighth grade, they enrolled

me at St. Paul’s Lutheran and, from 9th through 12th grade, they enrolled me at Michigan

Lutheran Seminary so every day of my schooling I would be indoctrinated with God’s

Word and surrounded by Christian friends. After my Catechism training, I was invited to

receive Holy Communion as yet another way to enjoy God’s wonderful blessings on my

spiritual life’s long road. These consistent connections with God’s Word and God’s

people produced character and hope, which have not disappointed me.

In fact, they have only strengthened me, because the sinful clutter in my life never

goes away! There are still family issues at home brought on by my own sins or brought

on by my family’s sins. Relationships with co-workers, church members, community

people are sometimes strained due to my own failures or theirs. Death, especially those

of close loved ones like my wife, my father and my mother continues in my adult life and

stings as it brings grief and loss. This is why baptism, cross and table are so important—

reminding me, strengthening me, supplying me with God’s gifts of faith, justification,

grace and peace, so that I am not overwhelmed by sufferings but so that they can

produce in me godly character and eternal hope.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be

saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we

were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been

reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice

in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received

reconciliation.

Salvation— life in heaven with Jesus, with the angels, with the saints who have

trusted in Jesus and at their death were ushered through the perfect portals of paradise!

That is where this spiritual life’s road is leading! That is why baptism and cross and table

are so important— to bring us the utmost confidence that we will be in heaven for

eternity only because we were reconciled to [God] through the death of his Son!

Your spiritual life’s road may not follow the same route or timeline as mine, but

the same things are true for you as they are for me— you have received the precious and

priceless blessings of baptism; you continually sin and encounter the sins of others that

clutter your life; you can rely on the instruction of God’s Word to guide you and the

forgiveness of Holy Communion to strengthen you; you are only along for the ride, for

God has done everything you need to be his child of faith today and he will do everything

you need so you can be with him in the amazing destination of heaven. Adopt this year’s

school theme as your own and find “joy in the journey”.

Spiritual life may be a long road, filled with speedbumps, detours and dangerous

conditions, but it is beneficial for all of us to continue on it, no matter how difficult it

might be, because the destination is amazing! Trust God who promises it to provide it

through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

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