On first read, today’s scriptures were just not what I wanted
to hear. I was ready for some loving kindness and gentle reassurance.
Instead the scripture is full of anger, wrath and rejection. However,
on second read, there are some great lessons here. In the first reading,
God speaks to Ezekiel and tells him, you live in a rebellious house.
The residents have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not
hear. Israel will wind up as captives, driven into exile. The
psalmist warns against faithless rebellion. God will become angry,
jealous and enraged. The Lord will reject Israel. And in Matthew,
Jesus tells the parable of the unmerciful servant. The servant begs
forgiveness and his master forgives his debt. Then the servant finds
a fellow servant who owes him a small debt and he refuses to forgive that
debt. The master finds out and in anger hands the unmerciful servant
over to the torturers until he pays his debt. Jesus warns that this
is how God will treat us if we do not show mercy and forgiveness to each
Yikes! This is not what I want to hear. Yet there are great lessons
here. Anything that gets between me and God has got to go. Mercy
and forgiveness are critical events and processes in life. Not just
to be received, but to be given. On a daily basis. And lastly,
the God we worship is not an uncaring, complacent or nonchalant God.
I call it the three P’s. God is powerful, personal and passionate.
This summer, one of my projects came from my wife. We sleep in the
basement and three of our boys also sleep in the basement now. My wife
has a strong fear of fire. She wanted me to build what I would call
an escape hatch. She had some fancy name for it that I have forgotten,
but it basically was a window, low enough that people could crawl out and
escape a fire. This required digging a hole, building a structure to
keep the dirt out and cutting into the foundation. I thought it was
a horrible idea. I pointed out that we had smoke alarms. However,
my wife was quite passionate about this idea and the project began.
I usually take pride in my work, but not this. I was angry. I
was resentful. I hurried and I cut corners. The project wasn’t
really done, but I said it was. Well, a week or two ago a huge thunderstorm
dumped lots of rain on us in a short period of time. As you may have
guessed, water came into the escape hatch and then into the basement.
What a mess. I was furious. This was my wife’s fault. And
I was sure she would blame my workmanship. Instead the first words
out of her mouth were "I’m sorry." This was not her fault, it was mine.
My fault for not caring and letting that influence my work. I should
have been asking forgiveness and instead it was being asked of me.
One thing you can say about God is that He cares about us personally and
passionately. We aren’t a job that He doesn’t care about. This
means God will not complacently accept our rejection of Him. This means
that sometimes God may become angry at our actions. God pursues each
of us with a faithful love. There are times when I feel unworthy, insignificant
or unloved. At these times, I think of God’s passionate pursuit of
me. It’s a wonderful and amazing thing.