Ash Wednesday is over.
Thursday has come.
And with it…sacrifice.
Those things I gave up yesterday when feeling ambitious are now coming to haunt me just a bit. If I gave up coffee…I’ve got that first caffeine headache hitting me about 10AM. If I gave up alcohol, inevitably someone will ask me to happy hour. If I’ve given up swearing, the likelihood that all the drivers on the road are going to exceed my expectations for being jerks is super high.
The sacrifice hits us. And then the guilt of struggling with “some little thing” when weighed against the suffering of The One this season celebrates. Because we are human that fades and the sacrifice hits us again. Magically we are right back at repentance. It may seem like we aren’t learning the lesson, but in reality that is the cycle that is expected…intended in the creation and recreation of a heart knit together by God.
David, after killing the husband of Bathsheba and the subsequent loss of their baby wanted desperately to offer a sacrifice to God and fix things. Restore the relationship. Make amends. He was in pain but struggling with whether or not it was right to turn to God for comfort, forgiveness and healing. He felt isolated. Alone. Ashamed. Confused. It was too much.
Read the entire shame spiral in Psalm 51 and the desire for God is so real you can almost taste it. Near the end of the song David sings:
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)
Today this resonates with me. I wish I could write a check. Give some time. Bake a loaf of bread and take it to a holy man. Pull some repentance weeds. Find some healing pills. Something to just clear the air of the last few months and shake the numbness of it all. Like David I’m a big proponent of “Give me something to do to make it better and I’ll do it.”
But God wants me. God wants my heart. God wants me to bring the hurt, worry, fear, and shame and make a pitiful little pile on the alter where we meet.
Then…the master craftsperson who created my heart in the first place can put it back together. Open places can be closed back up and patches applied where there are gaps. Might need some oil…probably some glue. Hell..throw in a little duct tape if it’ll help. Fresh color and shine where life has grown dull.
In the end the broken and contrite heart will not look new…but by the mercy of The Divine, it will look loved.