30 March 2009

Lenten Journal: Lord, Let My Heart Be Good Soil

How can young people keep their way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;

do not let me stray from your commandments.
I treasure your word in my heart,

so that I may not sin against you.
Psalm 199.9-11

Thanks be to God in heaven: I am at peace tonight. Yesterday's debacle is passing and I'm feeling far more capable of actually being the sort of pastor who does good work.

I'd like to say a little more about our friend K's sermon from worship yesterday. She told a story about her ridiculously expensive bicycle that has now journeyed all over the U.S. with her, mostly unridden and packed away with other items. She then proceeded to tell us that while we may carry our guilt with us like an unridden bicycle, God does not. Forgiven means forgotten in God's eyes - there are no unridden bicycles in God's closet.

I've been in this business long enough to know how impossible it is for us to forgive as Jeremiah suggests God forgives. Even the best-intentioned and most-determined of us can't simply forget the deep wounds caused by our mistakes and the mistakes of others. I certainly won't be forgetting yesterday's mistake any time soon, though I am beginning to forgive myself for it.

We can be changed, however, over time. The older I get, the more I see the need of Christians to practice the work of forgiveness with one another. When spring came last year, we started to see what years of neglect had done to the perennials and gardens around our house. I spent a lot of time weeding, thinning, pruning, splitting and moving plants last year. This year, the effort will be less intensive. I'll still be required to weed; you could say that our yard is captive to weeds and cannot free itself. But because we've practiced the art of tending to our property, the yard will require less work to regain its health this spring. Likewise forgiveness: a Christian who practices the work of forgiveness on a regular basis finds herself more easily forgiving as God would have us forgive - I believe that with all my heart.

Can peace come through practice? I think so - at least, the peace that comes with understanding ourselves and the God we worship more deeply. And I don't mean narcissistic self-idolatry, either; I'm talking about realizing who you are, warts and all, learning how to forgive yourself, and in so doing learning to live as a more forgiving person in every sense of the phrase.

Spring is coming - and so are the weeds. Lord, let our hearts be good soil.

Grace and peace,

1 comment:

  1. ah yes... forgiveness. so completely unavoidable isn't it?