There. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, we committed an unusual act: We confessed our sin. Feel sorry for those who brag, “I will never apologize for anything.” Confession is a gift.
An unverifiable but still useful story says that somebody asked C. S. Lewis, “Why are atheists some of the best people I know?” Lewis responded, “They must be good, mustn’t they? They have to get it right; they don’t know a God who forgives.”
Christ, when told that no respectable Messiah would hang out with disreputable people, responded, “I have come to seek and to save the lost. I’ve come for sinners, only sinners” (see Luke 15). If you don’t know a God who saves sinners, then you are forced to keep up the pretense that you are a nice person who can get along just fine on your own.
“Whenever you cry out to me, I’ll answer” (CEB). Sometimes we overlook the gift of knowing a God who, even in our sin, welcomes our cry for help, reassuring us, “I’ll be with you.”
When a child wakes up in the middle of the night and calls for a parent, the child trusts that the parent will respond. The parent may not be able to explain why the child had a frightening dream, but that’s okay. It’s enough for the parent to answer, “I’m here. No need for fear.”
We can be honest because we know a God who responds to our cries for help. We sinners need not fear entering the season of Lent, these forty days of forthright honesty about our sin and our need for salvation.
Whenever we cry out—whether it be a time when life is difficult or a time when we have once again messed up, stumbled, and fallen—that’s when we’re glad to have a God who says, “Whenever you cry out to me, I’ll answer.”
For the gift of your loving forgiveness, O God, we sinners give thanks. Amen.
As we begin the season of Lent, the readings provide several images of how we might prepare our hearts. Deuteronomy focuses on gratitude with a recitation of the history of God’s faithfulness. The people are instructed to offer their gifts to God as a response to God’s generosity. The psalmist focuses on faithfulness. If we put our confidence in God, God will protect and sustain us. In Romans, Paul emphasizes faith. Our confession of faith from the mouth should come from the heart, and this heart confession saves us. The story of the temptation of Jesus admonishes us to know biblical truth. The devil tempts Jesus with half-truths—even scriptural quotes—but Jesus counters with correct understanding of God’s Word and God’s character.
Read Deuteronomy 26:1-11. We no longer offer physical sacrifices to God. How do you give the “first fruits” of your labor to God in thanksgiving?
Read Psalm 91:2, 9-16. Recall a time you have felt abandoned or insecure. How did God respond to your call?
Read Romans 10:8b-13. Paul learned to see those he once despised as his equals in Christ. Whom does God call you to learn to love?
Read Luke 4:1-13. How do you follow Jesus’ example to use scripture to resist temptation?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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