off the top

Photo By: Laura Ruth

Photo By: Laura Ruth

Set them apart in the truth; Your word is truth.  John 17:17

I saw it stacked beautifully atop the other Rolos.   It wasn’t sticking out or falling down, but it was calling my name and I didn’t have 50 cents.  It really didn’t occur to me to ask my mother for the money, but I doubt she would have offered anyway.  I was only five and she was protecting me (protecting our home) from sugar overdose.

I looked at the caramel colored wrapper, looked at Mom, and when her head was slightly turned I pulled that roll of Rolos off the top of its beautifully stacked pile and shoved it effortlessly in my pocket.

We made it out the door, but not to the car when I heard, “What is that!?”  My mom has a keen eye and I was feeling a little more than obvious.  Pulling the package out of my pocket, having already denied its presence, I felt the gaze now of our whole little town.   I was charged with walking back through the doors that clanged my presence and up to the counter to make my public confession.

In the end, it was just humiliating.  I knew I had stolen, but I was more miffed that I’d been caught.  Up until the catching I’d felt no remorse.  I’d been so eager to eat candy I would have done anything to get it.  To this day I can’t quite resist that caramel colored packaging.

It seems funny now, but I was operating in my Lois “I want candy now” flesh.  I was so far down the road of desire I was willing to take something that wasn’t mine and not feel any kind of remorse EXCEPT, I got caught and I don’t like disappointing people.  I then moved into needing approval from everyone … my parents, the people I stole from, my brothers, and I felt shame because other people had seen this.  But I still didn’t feel that taking the candy was wrong.

But, God said that taking the candy was wrong.   You must not steal. Deut. 5:19 So, shouldn’t I think that too?  At the time, I didn’t know what God thought about stealing.  I did know my parents didn’t like it very much.  I was young and learning.  We’re all still young and learning.  But, when we know truth, that’s what sets us free.  It also gives us a choice.   We can walk in it or run from it.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.   John 8:32

Though I didn’t know it, God was in the process of purifying my little life in that moment.  My sin had been on display and my heart, still in confusion was something only He could work out the details of.  Even at such a young age I was messed up in the most serious way … broken, and needing Jesus.  Not even my parents knew the place I was in due to my desire for candy.

It all came clear, however.  I don’t remember when or where, but I knew I was wrong.  I knew stealing was not of God.  It was not his choice.  But, more than that my heart of greed was not from him.  Here was a God who gave his life for me and at the beginning of my childhood I was greedily stealing Rolos.   Had I not said Yes to God, I can only imagine the depths of despair I would have pursued, blind to the reason for my unhappiness.

We are set apart in this truth for special use.   As Jesus prayed for his disciples he asked His father to set them apart in truth, declaring His word is truth.   I realized today that Jesus was set apart, in this truth, so I could be.   We are able to be set apart for “special use” because Jesus was set apart, betrayed in a garden, to die on a tree, where I should have paid the penalty for all my depravity.  But, that would have meant that you would have to pay your penalty and your neighbor would have to pay theirs.  We all deserve death and yet, God is handing us a lifeline.

Instead of thousands upon thousands of deaths, sacrifices for sin that are never enough, God sent his son, Jesus.  He died once, for all of us, and that is a gift so unfathomable you just say yes.  Trying to understand the depths of it will take WAY more than a lifetime and yet, when you say yes … something happens that causes it all to make sense.

In his blog, pages in the story of our life, Jameson Allen puts it this way:

“At the same time that GOD is calling Israel to be clean, holy, set apart, and without blemish, HE also tells them repeatedly,that ‘I am the one who sanctifies you.’ It may seem like this text is giving countless rules for how we can make ourselves free from sin, but according to this passage, it is quite clear that GOD is the ONE who sanctifies us …”

(to read more visit … )

It is he who sets us apart and he who by his blood has bought us.  Baffling, perhaps.  But, stand in awe and say YES!  We’re about to see what He says about us.

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