The leaves are starting to turn their different colors. The cool, crisp air outside smells like rotten crabapples and old campfire. The sky is that glorious blue that keeps your eyes turned upward. It’s a beautiful fall morning, yet I see none of it. I am sitting here furious that I have to again clean out a molded cooler, full of old slimy cold packs and unused juice boxes.
This is a thing with me. The ravages of SEC football and living in a college town. The aftermath of tailgating.
The forgotten cooler.
So standing in the backyard on this October morning, I mumble to myself the words, “How many times?”
I throw out the mess. I wash with water. I bleach the remains. I set it out into the sun to dry.
The cooler is now clean, again.
Still fuming, an image hits me. All I can see is Christ looking into my heart and saying, “How many times?”
How can God stand our continual messing up? The same mistakes – over and over and over again throughout our lives.
The same excuses.
The same stubbornness.
The same posturing.
But through Christ there is understanding, forgiveness and grace, all powered by limitless love.
So Christ looks ...again...into this messy heart. He helps me unload the baggage, the things that I thought were needed and useful but just weighed me down. My false self, my idols, my pride. He cleans me by pouring over God’s redemptive grace.
He purifies my soul.
He looks for the smallest spaces still holding sin.
He whispers into my heart, “I love you. I forgive you. You are still mine.”
He sets me straight again on a solid foundation, only to know I will again fall short.
I will come back to him loaded with my sin, asking to be made clean … again. But I know instead of a head-shaking scowl, asking “How many times?”, He will hold open His outstretched arms and say, “Welcome home” to me again... and again... and again.
Lord, thank you for not being finished with us. Even though we have done nothing for it, you freely give us the gift of salvation through your son, Jesus. Grace upon grace. Again and again. As many times as it takes as we continue to walk with You. Help us accept this unexplainable, forgiving love so that, in turn, we can be tenacious in lavishing it on those around us.
Forgive me for throwing on you the judgmental nature of myself. You do not tire of me. You do not hide from me. You do not mock me when I make mistakes. The dark thoughts of judgement in my mind are not shared by you.
This judgemental nature causes my eyes to be clouded, where all I can see is this moment is disappointment. I don’t see how those around me have grown. I don’t see answered prayers, the ones you have answered in your time and way. I’ve moved on to the next want. I don’t see how faith has grown and continues to grow still in myself and those I love. I miss your work that is happening right in front of me.
Let me seek you first. Before I text a friend or talk to my spouse, let me quiet my soul before you. Restore my sight to clearly see YOUR nature, Father. You are a good, good father, Lord.
We love you, Father, yet you always love us more. How can it be? Amen.