So it seems as if I have missed some days writing to you all. OK it doesn’t seem so. It is a reality. Yes, and a reality for all people when we go into a situation with super lofty goals and desires and then– this thing called life happens. Reminds me of the saying, “The path to hell is paved with good intentions.” I have often heard people rephrase this quote and replace hell with heaven, but that is not the correct phrase. The point of the phrase is to admit that it is not our good intentions or works that get us to heaven. In fact our good intentions often can do more damage than we realize. Like making a promise to a child and then neglecting to fulfill the promise.
I recently watched the movie, “The Dirt.” It is about the making and life of the rock band, Motley Crew. Nikki Sixx had mom who believed she was filled with good intentions, but the abuse that came from such a scenario was unbelievable. What havoc it had on a young mind. Good intentions can have consequences that are well beyond the control of any one person. Yes, maybe a little good might come from them, but there can also be a ripple effect which we simply may not be able to see for generations.
Does this mean we stop trying to do the right thing? Of course not, but it does mean we should open up windows of self reflection in our lives, confessing that which we believe and also confessing that which we have done. Both the good and the bad stuff.
To often people think of confessing as only exposing a crime or wrong deed. Today I invite us to break that stigma. Confessing is to speak a truth about the self and the experiences one has had;Those things done to us, and those things we have done. What we believe and what we do not believe. When we speak of these things the door for reflection is open and the opportunity to shift one’s life into a new direction is created. In Christian language, the fancy word for this is called, repentance, and repentance at its most basic simply means to turn around.
Unfortunately, the word repent has a long history in the church and may sound ugly in people’s ears, reminding them of a trauma or a time of condemnation. The historical way the word has been used has caused us to only think of repentance as what we leave behind, and although this was done with good intentions, trying to help people, the pathway of those good intentions only created a lot of person hell for many people. You must repent from… (fill in the blank here)
But today I choose to reclaim the word, and remind myself, and you, that repentance is beautiful. Why, because when we repent or turn around, we are given the opportunity to turn toward something. If we get hung up on what we are leaving behind we can’t see that turning around provides new opportunity just waiting right in front of us, and for me, there is an immeasurable amount of hope in that. Hope for something new and bright, and healing. All the things that have caused me personal hell, they no longer have claim over my life. They stay in the rearview mirror and I get to face the windshield of my future. The shadows of the past behind and feeling the glow of the sun on the horizon of my life.
I express today that repentance is a double sided coin inviting us to acknowledge our reality. One side is our confession, which turns us over to new hope, and new possibilities. These new possibilities for many of us rests in who God is, reminding us that our good intentions are not the pathway to heaven. Quite the contrary. Our pathway to heaven is in the hope we have, being restored to the open road of new life, because Christ gives us the encouragement and ability to say, “it’s OK to turn around.” Because Christ says, “I will help you turn around.” Because Christ says, “Here take my hand, hear words of forgiveness, and be brought into new relationship. Be healed from the shadows and look at the son. See joy and light and love.”
To look at the son/sun is to see hope for this day, tomorrow, and the future instead of focusing on the tragedy of the past. It comes from the radiance of love that created the world, and leads us into a love that radiates beyond time, through the people, and into the future. It is founded in a love that chooses not to condemn the past, but instead offers a chance for restoration. This my friends is the love of God offered for you. Please feel invited to share in that.
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God. The Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. The second is this. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.
This is our confession, and in it the call to turn toward hope, turn toward love, and turn toward the restoration of relationships that come when we love God and love neighbor.