This post, the third in the series of reflections on the Lent journey, is one I’ve thought about a lot.
The word that came to me for this week is Contrition.
As we enter into a life of following Christ, we become aware of our own need, of our own faults. In the many visits I make and spiritual conversations I have, the words sin and repentance can often be a barrier to conversation. Many have felt judged before they felt loved…and the truth of it is that often humans are very good at judging before they practice loving.
I believe it is God’s realm to judge… we are called to share his love. Part of this good news is sharing God’s gift of forgiveness! I liked a definition of sin I heard recently… it is all about the middle letter… I! My own desires, my selfishness, and we know we are human and don’t measure up.
One of the emphasis of Lent is to take a solemn look at ourselves, and come, as we are, to the one who loves and calls us. He is full of forgiveness and healing! I love the picture of a dad, receiving his penitent child, and celebrating restored relationship! In the story of the Prodigal son, which Jesus told, he shares the tales of two sons… one who blew it all, and lived recklessly… and then came back, so sorry and wanting restored relationship. And the dad received him with open arms!!
And then there is the other son… one which I’ve identified with at times in my life… self-righteous, working hard, felt he was doing it all correctly… and then angry when his dad showed forgiveness to his brother..
It was a turning point in my life when I could say, God, in my weakness, with my faults, I come to you… and joyfully receive forgiveness and love. God loved me exactly as I was. God is a God of mercy and compassion!
There is a cleansing when we confess our faults, a transparency and authenticity that I believe God desires, and also helps us in our relationships. James said, Confess our sins to each other and pray for each other that you might be healed!”
Psalm 51 is a wonderful prayer to pray when we are entering into confession… this Psalm of David was a cry of repentance after he committed a grievous crime. “Create in me a clean heart!” he cries, and God was faithful to restore their relationship, even calling David a man after his own heart.
In this journey of Lent, I am thankful for the gift of Christ, who came, who invites us into relationship, who offers forgiveness. This is the gift of freedom, to trust in One who loves us so deeply, who has given us the gift of life.