Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Lent Devotion

[Note: our church produced a Lent devotional guide with devotions written by members of our church family. This is the devotion I wrote for Friday, February 15.]

Psalm 31

I once locked myself in the trunk of my father’s car. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

What happened was this: my father was doing some work in the yard and for some reason he had the trunk of his car open. My seven-year-old brain thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I hid in the trunk and then, when Daddy opens it back up, he’ll be surprised to see me, and I’ll jump into his arms, and we’ll have a good laugh about it.”

My seven-year-old brain did not think about the fact that it would be, once I closed the lid, dark in there—but it was. So as soon as the lid latched and the darkness enveloped me, I began to flail, kick, and scream for Daddy to come let me out of that dark, scary place in which I had placed myself.

Daddy came quickly and when he opened the trunk I did in fact jump into his arms and he did in fact have a good laugh about it. As for me, I had a good cry.

Once he stopped laughing he continued to hold me and asked, “Son, why did you close yourself up in the trunk?”


“Well, maybe you shouldn’t do that again.”


He set me down and that was that.

Upon reflection, I realized that I had done a foolish and maybe even a dangerous thing. Upon further reflection, I realized that while I was wrong in my actions, I was right in my expectations: my father would come for me, would hold me, would help me, would correct me, and would love me. I could count on my father, I knew, because he had always been there before and had always come through before.

I never locked myself in a car trunk again, but I have over the years done many a foolish and even dangerous thing. In every case, my Father—my God—has come for me, has held me, has helped me, has corrected me, and has loved me.

God has always been there, even when I was afraid that I had put myself beyond his reach. God has always loved me, even when I was afraid that I had become too foolish to love.

Lent is a time to reflect on our sins and repent of them. It is also a time to remember the steadfast love of God who loves neither because of nor in spite of who we are, but because of who God is—and God is love.


[Note: I, like many pastors, write a regular column for our church's weekly newsletter. This Sunday evening, the Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, GA will discuss and vote on a recommendation to change our by-laws so as to remove our present restriction of our Deacon ministry to men and thus open such service up to women. What follows is the column I wrote for this week's newsletter, the last one before the Church Conference at which we will consider this important matter.]


As you know, we will at our Church Conference this Sunday evening discuss and vote on a proposed by-law change that would change our church’s policy of restricting Deacon service to men and thus make it possible for women to serve as Deacons. One good thing that comes from such a discussion is that we all become even more interested than usual in what the Bible says.

A couple of passages from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians have been on my mind as we have prayed, talked, and walked together through our consideration of this matter.

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Another good thing that can come from a discussion like this one is that it can provide an opportunity for the church family to show that it is indeed a family that speaks and acts in ways that show that we are growing in unity, in peace, in hope, in faith, and especially in love. As your Pastor I want you to know how proud I have been of the Christian love and grace that you have displayed toward each other as we have moved toward a decision on this important matter. The Spirit, love, and grace of Christ that are in us have been evident and I am sure they will continue to be evident as we discuss and vote on the proposal Sunday evening and as we move forward to live, love, and serve in light of our decision.

Yet another good thing that can from a discussion like this one is that we all spend extra time praying. As we continue to pray, let’s remember the prayer that Jesus prayed for us:

I ask…that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)

Your Pastor,