Does a Broken Spirit Hurt?

  I’m done!” I fussed. “I refuse to plant something else in that hole!”

Those angry words, along with the memory of my husband and daughter chopping down my Japanese maple, were like television re-runs in my head a week after the fact (previous blog).

I’d confessed my sin before God and apologized to my family for my emotional outburst, but I’d rewind the tape, stuck in self condemnation.

I knew I was forgiven, but the weight of sin and my inability to walk in a manner worthy of Christ held me captive.

When I shared my sorrow with others, I was told to lighten up. “You’re justified in your anger. I’d be furious too.”

Perhaps, but God used that felled tree to prune my heart and rip out the root of bitterness  that had been growing inside of me long before that autumn day.

And the process was painful.

Not unlike a broken bone whose fracture has to be re-aligned in order to heal properly.

The image of wearing sackcloth and covering my head in ashes as a sign of repentance became a Biblical truth that finally went from my head to my heart. And left me …

Broken.

Which isn’t a spiritually bad place to be.

Because Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

For that’s when spiritual transformation and healing begins.

Because the Lord “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Not unlike the sinful woman who brought an alabaster jar of perfume to a Pharisee’s house where Jesus was dining. “And she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them…Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:36-50).

As God restored to me the joy of His salvation, I longed to be like that woman and show my adoration towards Christ who forgives sin and tells me to “go in peace.”

Instead of pouring perfume on His feet, I erased the tape of re-runs in my head.

And where the Japanese maple once stood in my yard, I ate my words and planted a fragrant Italian Cypress.

Ever green; ever a reminder that even in this situation,

Beauty can rise from ashes and mourning turn to joy

When Christ is allowed to be the Gardener of my soul.

Frightened of Sin?

Halloween is this week: Television stations air scary movies. Businesses decorate with cobwebs and spiders. Kids dress up like ghoulish monsters.

When I asked my family what frightens them, my husband responded: “You.”

I don’t blame him.

Last week, our family was working in the yard. I was in good spirits, shoveling gravel with my teenage son and my daughter’s boyfriend. Then I turned around and saw my twelve-year-old Japanese maple lying on the ground. My husband and daughter thought the tree was too close to our house and chopped it down.

Steam didn’t come from my ears, but profanity spewed from my lips. My face didn’t turn red, but if looks could have killed…

Throwing my rake on the ground, I blasted them with my words like bullets from a Tommy gun, and ran away in tears.

Even Jonah from the Bible could not have been more outraged when God appointed a worm and wind to destroy his shade tree.

Why the public confession?

Because a butchered tree may be upsetting, but it does not excuse an ungodly response.

My family apologized profusely; they had no idea. And before the sun set on my anger, I asked them to forgive me. We laugh about my crazed behavior.

But sin is no laughing matter.

It frightens me to know sin lingers in my heart, waiting for an opportune moment to rear itself.

“For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander” (Matthew 15:19).

Isn’t it easy to walk in the Spirit instead of the flesh when there’s no agitation? But add a pinch of stress, a pound of unmet expectations, or a felled tree and suddenly I’m staring at my flawed humanity.

My hope: “If we confess our sin, God is faithful and willing to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9).

My consolation: “Karen (my emphasis) was washed clean (purified by a complete atonement for sin and made free from the guilt of sin), and Karen was consecrated (set apart, hallowed), and Karen was justified (pronounced righteous, by trusting) in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11, Amplified version).

My assurance: God uses even this…a felled Japanese maple…to teach me I’m a work in progress, relying on His grace.