“I have considered my ways
and turned my feet toward your decrees.
I hasten and do not tarry
to keep your commandments.”
The taste of Life Boy soap in my mouth still lingers when I remember that day. I was sitting on the back steps of our friends’ house in Colorado Springs. My friend was teaching me to play a game. Every time you say a “cuss” word you get slugged in the arm. There were two points to that game; to see how many cuss words you can think of, and to see how tough you were in who could take the most hits.
My friend began hitting me harder and harder in rapid succession. I wondered what was going on. I wasn’t that good at cussing. In fact, he was hitting me way more times than one hit for each word, but I kept trying. There was a reason he was hitting me so much, as I was about to learn.
The most important thing in life is not that we live without sins or mistake; humans make mistakes, and all have sinned. The most important thing is that we learn to consider how harmful our sins and mistakes are, and pursue Christ’s forgiveness and cleansing.
In Lent, I find joy in examining my conscience to become more aware of any sin I’ve let creep into my life. While we should examine ourselves all year long, I’m thankful the Church calls us to a special season of cleansing and preparation. We can be cleansed of our sin whenever we confess, but we need to be reminded to prepare our hearts for the miracle of our faith; that we too have been raised from the dead!
The Psalmist speaks of the good that came from his afflictions, because through them he learned God’s more excellent way of living (Psalm 119:67,71). It’s true. We learn best from our hard times. What hard times are you going through right now? I promise you God has some valuable lessons for you to learn – if you look for them; I know I have. And, I continue to look for new truth from the Lord in all my tough times.
My friend hitting me so hard over and over was nothing compared to what happened after that. It was a tough time I will never forget. He wasn’t trying to hit me for each word I said, he was trying to warn me my Mother was right behind me listening at the door. As he motioned his head towards the door with a look of horror, I turned to see my Mother. Fear leapt in my heart. As a parent myself, I now know how sorrow filled hers, although at the time it I thought it more like rage.
As I recall, and I may be exaggerating a little, she grabbed me by the ear and pulled me into the bathroom. I can’t recall all that she said, but it had something to do with Christians don’t use that kind of language. Then she washed my mouth out with soap. The taste still lingers when I recall that moment. I learned my lesson. I wasn’t accustomed to cussing anyway, but I sure didn’t after that. But, most of all, as I grew, I learned to appreciate how much it hurt my Mother to hear those words coming out of her boys mouth.
When we sin, we hurt the Father’s heart. He made us for blessing and not for cursing (James 3:10). Our Father isn’t mad at us for sinning, but He is disappointed. He made us for so much more. This Lenten season, let us learn to live holier lives. Let us, as the writer of Hebrews said:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
My daily Lenten prayer – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit. ” NRSV