November 27, 2023

LifeDate Winter 2023 – Just As … I AM

by Pastor Michael Salemink

My little brother fell into a cactus as a child.

The neighbors had a couple planted among the decorative stones behind their house. He was toddling on their deck next to the landscaping. Bent over to retrieve a toy and tumbled right off. Came up with two-inch spines sticking out of his arms and trunk. Started walking toward me like nothing happened.

Naturally I freaked. What kind of undead monster had he become?

Screamed and ran back next door to get a parent. Returned to find him crying, not from pain but because I had frightened him. Neither the drama nor the danger deterred Dad. Kid obviously needed a hug. Father scooped him up and held him close—prickles and all. (Then of course whisked him away to the emergency room. They extracted every barb-ended needle one by one and prescribed a precautionary antibiotic. Crisis averted.)

Sinful selfishness leaves humankind needing a hug. We clearly make quite a mess of ourselves. That includes all of us, no decisive difference from embryo or aged.

Still, it doesn’t scare away our sanctity-of-life God. He hasn’t forgotten becoming like us Himself. Thorns poked, straps pierced, nails punctured, spear impaled. Embracing such as you and me disfigured Him, but He wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s made Himself just like us to draw us near. In resurrection He remembers all the more His image imprinted within our kind.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Forgiving grace takes us as we are and calls us just. Just—righteous, holy, and honorable the way He is. Our Heavenly Father lends His identity and rights to every human being alive at all. Whatever age, appearance, or ability, I am as much as He is. I am because He is, and so are you, and so are they.

Just as … I AM.