Okay. So, over the past months/years I’ve noticed that I am unique animal in Christian circles. I have this unique ability to kind of blend or adapt based on surroundings. I somehow manage to be both the older and younger brother in the parable of the Prodigal Sons. I am at once both wrestleing with my pharisaical self and my wild prodigal self.
What, you might ask, would I prefer to my crazy split personality? Steadiness might be nice. steadfastness. Instead of the wild pendulum swings that within a moment can take me from the adulturous woman, huddled at Jesus’ feet seeking grace, to the stone throwing perfectionist seeking salvation in their own righteous deeds.
I don’t know of that many people who struggle with this, but I everyone I know struggles with one or the other, so I was thinking I would try something new. 100 days of confessions from this prodigal pharisee. A blog a day. Each one confessing my latest tendency.
Let’s be honest – on my prodigal days, i may end up missing a post, but I’m sure my pharisaical self will kick in and force me to double up so I meet my quotient.
So. I guess that starts us here, today. Phew! Let’s do this thing!!
CONFESSION #1 of a Prodigal Pharisee:
I sometimes fear forgiveness
I remember really clearly the moment when I first read the Scripture “with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared”. I read it in an old school broken moment. The kind of moment where you know for sure you are a prodigal; you know for sure you have blown it beyond repair and ruined whatever you had going on with God. And I remember sitting with my bible on my knee, spine curled and arms hugging my legs – sure that this was the last hug i would ever receive from anyone. I was trying to confess my sin to God; trying to believe that He would rescue and forgive me, and I remember the clarity of the voice through His word assuring me that forgiveness was secured for me. Now, your average prodigal would greet this news with joy, but being the pharisee I am, I remember the chill of fear running through me. I can’t even really articulate it now, but I just remember this overwhelming awareness that all of it was so far beyond my control. In that moment I knew the terrifying truth that my salvation is not in my hands.
If His forgiveness is a free gift, then the flip side that birth’s the fear in me, is that I can’t earn it.
I’m a great apologizer. In my friendships I sometimes take calculated leaps, saying no, or hurting feelings because I know exactly how to issue an apology and what steps to take to earn forgiveness.
But with God, there is always forgiveness and yet, it can never be earned. I cannot sin knowing that I’ll make it up to Him later. I ‘ll never make it up to Him. And for a pharisee that is beyond terrifying.
Sometimes I fear forgiveness. Sometimes I feel like I would prefer a system when I earn everything I have from God, so that I can predict and control what He owes me. So that when I fail Him I could say with some sort of confidence that I’ll make it up to Him, and I wouldn’t have to bear the humiliation of knowing I would never make it better.
Of course- there was a system like that once, and as I recall, no one could be good enough. So, while the pharisee in me fears the grace of forgiveness, the prodigal in me will cling to it with the feeble grip of the saved; those who know even that grip is given by God.