Jonah 3:1-10 (Jonah brings the Lord's message to the people of Nineveh; they repent and are spared)
Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19 (God will not spurn a humble and contrite heart)
Luke 11:29-32 (The men of Nineveh will condemn the present generation, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, yet one greater than Jonah is now present)
Sign on a bumper sticker I saw recently: Faith is a journey - not a guilt trip.
Yet we make mistakes. We often learn of them the hard way. Still further, we come to realize how our mistakes - even the innocent ones - have impacted the lives of others. Still, being humble and contrite of heart (Psalm 51:18) does not mean we have to constantly live through the guilt and embarrassment. We should strive to move forward. Many times it's not easy. The messes we live through as a result of our mistakes are constant reminders of the guilt we bear. If we dwell on the guilt, we lose an opportunity for growth.
Along these lines, one of the churches I attend (the one I bring my son to) recently began the 13-week Financial Peace University seminars. The program was developed by financial counselor Dave Ramsey. My son saw this as an event because there was a lot of publicity about it in the weeks before the course started. Well, one thing led to another, and at present I am reading one of Ramsey's books, as well as watching his television show on the Fox Business Network at least two nights a week (he's on daily). We think we may invest in the course material and work on this ourselves, as I'm admittedly not the greatest when it comes to financial planning and management.
My dear wife ran across a series of "Depression Era Cooking" video clips on YouTube in the last day or so. They feature an elderly Italian woman that my wife says reminds her of my grandmother, who passed away four years ago this month. That, and another few clips of other Italian cooking, set my mind to thinking about my grandmother's influence. For Valentine's Day my wife bought me a Sicilian baseball cap. Is the discovery of this stuff some sort of suggestion that there's a lack of ethnicity in the house? (My wife's of Irish ancestry, and I'm part Italian.) Don't know. Is it more a subtle reminder that she's still in my life and as such, that I should pray God is looking after her? Probably. I'm also willing to bet this is supposed to remind me to continue to keep tabs on my family's and my parents' well-being, too.
As I was watching those same videos at home yesterday evening, I noticed there was something unusual looking about one of the rings I was wearing. It was a Celtic knotwork design on sterling silver that my wife and I had bought about our 20th wedding anniversary, not quite eight years ago. These weren't all that expensive, we each had one. My wife had lost hers some time ago when it went down the tub drain while showering. Mine had split down what appears to have been a flaw in the material when the ring was cast and manufactured.
We both had a bit of a laugh as we determined that this is a sign we have to get married again.
What do all these have to do with Lent? Everything. Life goes on. Just because you take a month or so to look at your spiritual life doesn't exclude you from the rest of it. While I'm on this plane of existence, the two are intertwined. All life has meaning. All we do on earth might crumble to pieces as dust in the wind, but while we hold it, still has a connection to God.