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Here’s a chilling phrase: “And they prayed and said, ‘Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place.'” (Acts 1:24-25)

“…to go to his own place.”

There seems to be a perpetual human tendency to cry out “It’s not my fault!” Ever since the Garden of Eden, we’ve been trying to explain away our choices. We’ve even created elaborate theological systems to relieve us of responsibility! “Hey, God made me this way!” or “It was predestined!” or (my favorite) “The devil made me do it!” (big smile!)

Now before you feel really bad about this, please don’t. That’s just another way of avoiding the truth. There’s nothing like the debilitating excuse of “Wow, what a downer. I need ice cream!” And off we go to medicate our symptoms rather than accepting the invitation of the Lord Who ALWAYS loves us and is ALWAYS quick to forgive. We are invited by the Lord to peacefully and soberly approach our own mistakes and our missteps (also known as “sins” but I don’t want to scare you off!) full of faith in His love for us and His eternal desire to see us well and whole.

If you knew that your mistakes could be healed and you would never be rejected by the Doctor of souls, would you be willing to be healed?

Careful. Before you answer that too quickly remember the scripture above. Judas turned aside and went to “his own place” even after living with the Lord for three years. And Judas’ “own place” was a prison of isolation and despair! That is certainly not the “place” the Lord has prepared for us! (see John 14:2-3)

The fact is there is a deep seeded illness that can only be healed by trust and humility and love. That illness in our souls has us imprisoned in our “own place” and separated from our only Source of life and peace and healing. And we don’t escape our “own place” till we realize that this prison is locked from the inside! The truth is that ever “hell” is always locked from the inside. That’s what makes Judas such a tragic figure. With all the spiritual advantages he possessed and still he “turned aside” and went to “his own place.”

Such love and freedom given to us by our Creator who made us in His image to be transfigured into His likeness. God made us like Himself and He is truly free, so He made us free as well. What a tragedy to use that freedom to imprison ourselves!

But God is good! And He would never leave us defenseless, so He came to us Himself, putting on our flesh, to fight the battles we were unable to fight. And He WON! Now, our freedom to leave our prisons is guaranteed by His victory over all our enemies!

Today, as we continue our journey to the Feast of the Dormition, and we are invited to witness again the victory of Christ over death at this “summer Pascha,” let’s embrace with joy and hope the freedom gifted to us by our Lord Jesus.

Today, let’s go to His Place and forever reject turning aside and going to our own place!

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