I stayed home with the girls this morning since we are all trying to get back to normal after nasty bouts with a stomach virus. Being sick reminds me to be thankful when I am well, and eating solid food is something I too often take for granted. They are much better, and I’m getting there. God placed Psalm 103:8-14 in my path today, and it was just the reassurance I needed.
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” NASB
The words of this beautiful psalm comfort when I think of the wandering I have done. He will remove my transgressions from me, but I learned this week that I have to be willing to let go of them first. My selfishness causes me to hold to them like a security blanket or pacifier, but my love for God enables me to let go and let Him take them as far from me as the east is from the west. You can’t get any further away than that, and I love that His ways take them where they need to be. My ways often keep them handy just in case I need them. Sin is often disguised as good, and I’ve wrestled with God in that department most of my life. Doing what I think is best is playing God, and that is the biggest sin of all. Thinking I know what’s best for me and others is right up there beside it as it shows I don’t believe He is who He says He is.
So glad God doesn’t stay angry and even more happy that He doesn’t reward me according to my iniquities. His love is higher than any love I can imagine, but I’ve taken it for granted and even taken advantage of His loving nature. As I’m giving up space during this season of Lent, I’m getting down to the bare bones in regard to what’s taking up space in my heart, mind, spirit, and soul. It’s been the most blessed, but by far the most painful Lent of my life. God needs all my space to render the transformation He has in mind, and that involves taking inventory and carefully discarding all that is in His way. Thursday was a difficult day, and Friday proved to be even more challenging as God emptied me as never before. I didn’t like what I saw, and that’s always the case when I let God show me the truth rather than trying to show Him what I would like to be the truth.
The beauty of cleansing is that no matter how much it hurts, the feeling I get afterward makes me forget the angst it took to get me there. I think that’s what Lent is all about, so perhaps this is my first real season of Lent. I’ve taken it seriously before, but what I gave up was always more about punishing me than about worshipping God and remembering the cost of having access to His amazing love. Christ came down at Christmas, and I love the beautiful season when we remember Immanuel; but Easter has become my favorite season as I remember the Risen Messiah who did not let the sins of this world keep Him down. He faced them head on, took them upon His own shoulders, died for them, and rose to sit next to God and intercede for me. That lifts my heart and spirit as nothing else in this world.
Lent isn’t over yet, and I know the lessons of Lent aren’t over either. I’m sure there will be more space to clear before Saturday, but I’m not who I was on February 13th. It’s been a difficult five and a half weeks, but I’m thankful for the changes He has wrought and wouldn’t go back for anything in this world. He is God, and He knows and loves me more than I can understand. That’s the reason I can continue with the emptying out; I know it’s what’s best for me and want to be even closer to Him. Lent and love go hand in hand. Lent isn’t about punishment; it is about taking stock and remembering that my sin put Christ on the cross. He simply wants me to recognize it and get it out of His way now so He can give me what He so desires for me to have. Holy Week is a special time of worship, and I look forward to all God has in these last few days of Lent. I know I will be surprised by all He has in store, but I’m learning to give Him the space and do what He knows is best.