Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lenten Words: Antidote for a Hard Time

photo by Ana Karenina / flickr

Somewhere in a place I cannot now find I remember a story that Frederick Buechner told. It seems that this man who was married was anything but a good husband. As the time wore on he became more and more abusive. Finally in desperation she left him and divorced him. She could not get out of her head all the monstrous things he had done to her. Years went by. She heard that he had started a new life. He had a new family. He had a good job and was well-liked by all those that knew him. As she heard about this man who had hurt her 
so--she could not let all the pain from back there go.

One day, years after their parting she met him. He looked good. People loved him. He was a pillar in the community. And all the betrayals and the meanness and the pain. surged up again. She couldn't help herself. She railed out: "They don't know you. They don't know you at all. The monster you are. All the terrible things you did to me. You are a hypocrite--and you are wearing as mask."  "Take it off," she said, "and left people see you for who you really are." Slowly the man reached up and began to peel off his mask of many years. She stood open-mouthed not able to say a word. He had worn the mask so long that he had become the mask he wore.

This Lenten season for some reason I remember that story. All of us, deep down are sinners. Nobody knows us like we know ourselves. The old book is right, "All we like sheep have sinned and turned to our own way..." Deep in our hearts we know this. For we have sinned--fallen short--again and again. But the promise is this: We become what we give ourselves to. And if behind the real self we take on what Philippians called: whatever is true...,whatever is honorable...whatever is just and pure and pleasing and commendable...who knows? We might just become the things we give ourselves to.

This Lenten season maybe we need to ponder this story until it fills our hearts. Paul ended those above words with these: "...think about these things. Keep on doing the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you."

I don't know about you but I could use some peace in my life there days. It is a hard time. The old quote seems appropriate: "Be kind. For everyone you know is fighting a hard battle."

There are masks and there are masks. Maybe the old Gospel song is right after all:

"Turn your eyes open Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of glory and grace."

photo by The Manic Macrographer / flickr

--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com

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