Season of Change
This is the time of the year for introspection. It’s a time that we annually take stock of who we are and how we treat one another, comparing, or sadly, contrasting this revelation with what our God asks of us.
Even though I aspire for this to be a daily contemplation, I find myself at Yom Kippur, reading through the Al Chet list of behaviors and attitudes that grieve the Lord and I come out wanting.
And that is just the point. I don’t think I’m the only one who routinely, perhaps even chronically takes myself to task for some of my flaws, while somehow missing other particularly egregious errors in thought and deed. I strain at the gnat while ignoring the elephant in the living room.
In fact, I sometimes catch myself not focused on my shortcomings at all, but those perceived to be in my brothers and sisters. The phrase “beam in the eye” comes to mind. Do you too ever catch yourself at the yearly atoning thinking of others who need to realize their sin rather than challenging yourself? Ouch.
But even as I say that, I know there are some of us who go too far the other direction. I find myself picking apart my deeds and musings in a self-flagellatory fashion way too often. I can pin every charge on myself almost on a daily basis.
But, thankfully, that is not what our God requires of us. He wants us to walk humbly, but He is not in the business of beating us up. Rather He would ask that we allow the Holy Spirit to inspire, and, of course, empower, us to usually work on one area of concern at a time.
The accuser, on the contrary, wants us to be aware of every conceivable evil dwelling in our hearts and all at the same moment. Sometimes those around us may try to play at Holy Spirit and point out their perceptions of our ill doing. But I think we all know what works to make true change. It’s the sweet prompting of the Lord that floods us with love, grace, peace and what is needed to overcome moment by moment.
Let this season be a time for us all to allow the sweet aroma of the Lord to penetrate our hearts and lift us out of one of the things that vex us. We might also find that dealing with the one issue will have a far-reaching effect on the whole. As we surrender and allow the presence of the Lord to manifest in a seemingly small part of our selves, we might discover that area was negatively impacting our greater well-being.
Call them paradigm shifts or epiphanies. Call them attitude adjustments. Whatever label you choose, the effect is that our Lord in his Perfection is conforming us into His image in His time, not ours or anyone else’s.
Even though as a Believers in Messiah’s redemption I acknowledge that God is willing to forgive me daily, there is a natural rhythm in the Lord’s provision of our yearly checkup as we focus on the High Holy Days encouraging us to take yearly inventory. Even in my best years, I still feel the Lord’s gentle nudge as I ask for forgiveness for those previously unacknowledged transgressions.