Psalm 51:11-12 – Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
QUESTIONING THE RULES
The rules for our children changed very little as they were growing up. Clean your room. Pick up after yourself. If you open it, close it. (That one confuses me to this day. Who leaves all the dresser drawers open? Why is this even a needed rule?) Feeding the pets was a chore that required constant reminding. Admittedly, it was sometimes easier to do things myself than to inflict my expectations on others.
When I take the time to reflect on their upbringing, I realize that setting guidelines and expectations is an act of love for my children. I want the best for our son and daughters. I want our children to make good decisions, do the right things, be self-disciplined, and follow through on commitments. I love each of them enough to insist they take responsibility for their actions and behaviors. If I don’t tell them what I am thinking or offer instruction and loving encouragement, I cannot expect productive results. I have to tell them what I am thinking. It doesn’t make sense to assume they know right from wrong. How will they continue to learn and grow as capable and dependable adults if I never share my loving will for them?
That question doesn’t apply only to my children. What does God expect of me? I often wonder if I’m doing the right things, going to the right places, talking to the right people, and I find myself questioning whether I am following God’s will or just my interpretation of God’s will. I want to be faithful, of course, but how do I know for sure what God is expecting?
On this Ash Wednesday, our scripture speaks to my questions. A common theme often runs through our daily texts, but today is bound together tightly in an unmistakable way:
• Return to me with all your heart. (Joel 2)
• Rend your hearts and not your clothing. (Isaiah 58)
• Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51)
• Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5)
• Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6)
What does God require of me? God requires that I look to God with expectation! As a loved child of God, the only “rule” is that I give my heart fully to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to work within me.
I am blessed that I can turn to scripture for the instruction, the loving encouragement, and the setting of guidelines so that I may make good decisions and offer productive results. During this season of Lent, may my reflections, my searching, and my efforts to return to God be pleasing in God’s sight.
Keeping you in prayer,
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Create in me a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Help me to remember that the sacrifice acceptable to you is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Amen.