For when you've made a mess of life and need hope

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{Guest devotional by my Dad}
there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NLT)

There is a gentle tap on my door.  ‘Oh no! It’s another hopeful,’ I think, ‘what am I going to say to this one?’
A young lady, Ann*, comes into my office. She is panting from the exertion of coming up the stairs to my office. She sways and I think she is going to fall. I motion her to sit in my only visitor’s chair.  

She sits and I wonder,  ‘What now?’

I am sitting in my office at University. It is the end of the first semester which is good and bad. Good, because the lecture programme is finished until next semester. Bad, because it is the time when marks are counted and it is determined whether students qualify to write the end of semester exams. 

Sort of like judgement day.

I have many students coming to request another chance. “Sir, can I write a special assignment?” Or “Can you increase my marks by just enough?” Or sometimes they dishonestly claim they have written a test and the test script must have gone missing.  

there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
I gently, and sometimes not so gently, explain that the chances of passing the exam at this late stage with the marks they currently have is virtually impossible. I inform the students that in most cases by spending excessive time on a subject they are unlikely to pass they are putting the passing of other subjects at risk. 

Ann came to see me the day before to ask for her script. I did not have it, and said I would look for it, and she should come back. I checked, I did not have her script and her name was not on the register of students who had attended the test. 

I was sure she was trying to gain entry by dishonest means. 

Ann is in the chair. She peers at me through doubtful eyes. “Sorry sir,” she says “I am not feeling well I have just come from the university clinic.” 

There is a pause she looks at me “You’re not the kind to judge are you sir?”

Another pause “Oh, I have made such a mess of my life! When I take ARV’s should I feel ill?” 

I am surprised, I lecture accounting not medicine. 

I have heard a little about Anti-RetroVirals used to treat HIV/Aids though, so I suggest that there is an initial physical reaction until your body gets used to the medicine. 

She calms down a little and seems less distressed.

Ann asks about the test. I say I cannot find a paper for you but I will give you the average mark. 

From her reaction I know she never wrote the test. “I won’t let you down, sir. Thank you for the chance.” 

there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1She gets up to go murmuring, “Oh, I’ve made such a mess of my life but now I have hope.” (tweet this)

I did so little for Ann. It cost me nothing. 

I gave her hope in a small thing.  

Jesus did amazing things for us and it cost him everything and he gives us forgiveness and life. (tweet this)  

Through Jesus we all have a chance to start again.

Jesus does not tell us how bad we have been or we have no chance of passing or nobody else has managed.

Paul describes it best “There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.”

Thank you, Jesus, we can start again every day if we have to. The promise is abundant life and a sure hope. I want to start with Jesus today.

{About the author of this devotional}
David Harbottle is my father. He shares his home with Jeannette (my mom), his wife of over 40 years, and two giant schnauzers. You can find out more about me here and read my mom's guest devotional about suffering here

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Design: Wendy van Eyck. Turquoise door photo credit: Funchye Starburst and grass photo credit: © 2006-2013 Pink Sherbet Photography Note book photo credit: slightly everything (All via photopin cc)
*names have been changed to protect identities. 

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