My psalm reading this morning just happened to be Psalm 32 which begins,
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.This strikes me as a perfect entrance into a Lenten season of repentance and self examination. The gift of God’s forgiveness to the one who turns in sorrow for sin is the beginning point. It is the moment of greatest blessing. Many things come after it—love, grace, maturity, knowledge, enlightening of the heart and mind—but none of them can be had in their fullness without repentance, without turning around and walking towards God rather than away from him. And yet this beginning step is usually always the hardest, whether it is a first time repentance, or one of the many many times of contrition the Christian faces.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
And yet here is the biggest grace: Repentance itself is God’s work in you and God’s gift to you. I’ll use myself as a good bad example. I long to have a clean house. I desire almost more than anything for Cleanliness and Order. I convince myself that I can’t function properly if things aren’t perfectly picked up and put away. And then I make that desire part of my identity, part of my sense of self. And then I make other people live up to my perfect standard, judging them when they don’t meet my expectations. And I do all this without really thinking about it or premeditating it. I make myself into a tyrant god by sheer habit. But then God, through his Word, takes the trouble show this to me, both in the course of the weekly sermon, and in my private reading at home, in this case through “accidentally” reading about the Tower of Babel over and over without meaning to.
The technical word for this process is Conviction. It can be painful, but also, sweet, because God, so big, so concerned with so many important things, takes the trouble to care about the smallest, meanest darkest parts of me and you.
I pray you will take the time in this blessed season of Lent to open yourself to Jesus and let him look at your whole heart, your whole mind, and allow him to adjust things according to his own plan and purpose. Blessed is the one whose transgression, whose sin is forgiven!