Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Growing with God's Love
My wise, insightful spiritual director invited me to reflect on two questions over the next few weeks: Why are you not allowing God to forgive you? What benefit do you get from holding on to these sins?
In contemplating these questions, I realized that a number of the specific sins people commonly commit in high school and college I avoided are ones I stayed away from more because of fear than because I was farther along spiritually or morally than my peers. This has been a very humbling revelation that has shown me that I’ve relied for many years on fear to keep me from committing certain sins more than relying on God’s guidance and grace. Seeing the starring role fear has played also spotlights that it was pride that let me think that my choices were primarily motivated by virtue and fortitude.
If I’m really trusting in God’s love and grace, I’m not clinging to fear as my main protection against temptation.
I was extremely upset after realizing my husband was right when he blurted out, “You’re insulting God [by not accepting His forgiveness and love]!” I hadn’t spent much time thinking about my trouble letting go of my sinfulness and accepting God’s forgiveness and love as being an insult, but I guess it is.
Of course, hearing that when I was already feeling bad didn’t make things better at the time, but it certainly got me thinking, which eventually led to writing in my prayer journal which has a Bible verse at the bottom of each page.
One of the Scripture passages on the pages I filled that evening jumped out at me: “The Lord your God is with you. He is might to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” –Zepheniah 3:17
This comforted me a bit. I don’t believe God’s response to my not handing over my sins and welcoming His love is the same as a person’s would be. More than feeling insulted, I think it saddens our infinitely patient, unconditionally loving Father when we don’t entrust Him with our sins, the only things that our really ours alone. He yearns to have us hand over our burdens. He already knows what we’ve done, and He stands ready for us to fess up, so He can promptly wash the sins away and come running towards us, arms open to welcome us back into the fullness of His loving embrace. Like the father of the prodigal son, it’s His love not what we’ve done or failed to do that makes God run to us in our tattered brokenness
Going on a Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) retreat this past weekend has helped me delve deeper into the mystery of God’s love and forgiveness. The theme of CRHP #22 was “Growing with God’s Love.” That fits perfectly with what God is calling me to right now.
I know I’m in the process of growing in God’s love, and I’m very grateful for the many people in my life who have been helping me along the way.
Lord, help me to trust in the power of Your forgiveness and Christ’s sacrifice to wipe away my iniquities and cleanse me of my many sins. Teach me to grow with Your love. Amen.