Really sorry

Our three grandboys were hanging out at our house.  I noticed that Caden, our 8-year-old eldest of the group had a significant amount of writing on his arm.  Obviously permanent ink.  Boys will be boys… so I didn’t ask, although that evening at shower time, he asked if the writing faded, would I rewrite it for him.

I said, "well, do you think your mom would be okay with that?"
  "Oh yes," he answered, "she’s the one that wrote it… look!" 

With that he flung his forearm and I read aloud:
quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

I said, "wow that’s great advice to live by… 
it’s a verse from the book of James, right?"  
He nodded.
  So I asked, "why is that on your arm?"

"I don’t want to tell you Mimi."  

You certainly don’t have too.  And yes I will rewrite it, if needed after your shower.

We were headed to a ballgame a little later that evening, and somehow just Caden and I ended up in my car  - It was just getting dark… maybe less light on the subject, and from the backseat, I heard these trembling words… 

"Mimi,  I did a really bad thing."

Hateful words…  Really bad… I looked in the rearview mirror… quiet tears flowed. 

Oh honey… I wanted to pull the car over and sweep him up in my arms and tell him it didn’t matter… all was okay… but I knew … it did matter.

"I’m sorry Mimi"  Oh buddy, I hear you!  He began to speak more of the story… What he didn’t know was that his sweet distraught momma had called me two days earlier in the midst of this dilemma –

"I’ve apologized to my friend, to my teacher, to the whole class because they missed part of PE because of my choice."

Caden accepted Jesus and was baptized a few months ago.. so I gently whispered, 
"You know of those times when you hit Charlie or snatched your bat away from Corey and your mom says… Caden, say you’re sorry… and you say … sorry… and you know you really aren't sorry."  

"Well, Mimi that’s what Charlie does"… 

I chuckled..."I know, honey, so did your mom and your Aunt Kellie and Aunt Mollie and Uncle Clay... that’s not really sorry, is it?"

"Do you know what the word, repent, means?"  I asked.

"Its really being sorry, right?"  

Yes… and it means I am sorry enough to NOT want to repeat what I did.  I want to turn the other way.  Like when you’re on the basketball court and you realized you are headed to the other teams’ goal… you turn totally around, knowing for sure that’s not the right way… then you run with all your might toward the right goal.

"I see what is on your arm…" I said, "why did your mom write that?"

"Well, we talked about what I did… and how I could remind myself that I didn’t want to do that again…" He shared.

So you are choosing to put reminders in place that will help you… You admitted what you did wrong, you asked for forgiveness, you put reminders in place to help you because you realize its hard not to lose your temper?

The tears ceased… 

"You know, Caden, God promised to forgive us once we’ve repented, and then we don’t have to keep going back to say we’re sorry… we are free from that…"

He glanced down at his arm… and said, "I’m so glad about that, Mimi."

So am I, sweetheart, so am I...

I'm studying with a group of ladies through the book of 2 Corinthians.  This week we spent time in chapter 7.  Paul shared about Godly sorrow...

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

He goes on later in the chapter to remind the Corinthians (and us) that with Godly sorrow and true repentance come an earnestness to change, to go the other direction, to accept forgiveness and live as forgiven people... not arrogantly, rather with humility and thankfulness.

I keep being brought back to the woman thrown in the street in front of Jesus by the Pharisees looking for His judgement of her sin.  The scene is thick - heavy - but, Jesus, in His gracious wisdom, bent down and wrote in the sand.  He stood up and gave the instruction for "anyone without sin to throw the first stone."  He stooped down again, as all who were standing quietly walked away.  Jesus looked at the woman clearly offering forgiveness, saying, 

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Repentance, forgiveness, freedom... Thanks for the reminder, Caden.  So what about you?  Do you need to speak clearly to the Lord, asking for His forgiveness of sin... 1 John 1:9 assures that us that, "when we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". Maybe some of us need the reminder of the freedom in forgiveness... the putting place reminders to help us avoid repeating the already forgiven behavior.  Maybe for you that is time away from social media, time to put the smart phone aside for several hours a day, to blow the dust off that Bible on the table and hear His word afresh... 

Permanent marker works well, too... 

What's that smell?

When Frank and I first married, we moved to South Carolina where Frank began his first job "in the real world".  We rented our first apartment - brand new, 2nd floor, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, kitchen/den combo.  Not long our we got settled, our new neighbor moved in.  Kim had just gotten her first job in our town as a pharmacist and had the most beautiful southern draw.  She and I became fast friends as we were both new to town, and Frank was working 3rd shift.  Our front doors were exactly ten steps apart and were always open!

One evening she came rushing into my apartment screaming in her fun southern accent, "Susan, something in my apartment stinks!  I've taken out the garbage, I've scrubbed the counters, the floor, the stove... I think I'm going  crazy."

I walked over and quickly agreed - something smelled just awful... rotten, horrible!  I walked around trying to find the source... with no luck.  We couldn't wait for Frank to get home, because even back then... 😀... he could find any lost item, fix any broken thing... and we were just sure - he could find and remedy the awful odor.

Before Frank began his investigation, he offered a couple of options that might define the problem - a dead rodent was his best theory.  Kim (and I) were mortified at that thought.  He was quite dramatic as he opened kitchen drawers and cabinets, checking corners of the pantry, peering under the sink.  Finally, he announced that he had solved the mystery.  He reached his hand down in the sink's garbage disposal and retrieved the smallest, most rank, piece of raw chicken you could never imagine.  Problem solved - sink scrubbed and disinfected - happy apartment dweller.

How could one little rotten piece of chicken cover an entire apartment with such a stench?  It was almost unbelievable.  I went back over early the next morning to check it out - yes, for sure, the odor had been removed.

Studying through 2 Corinthians through a wonderful Bible study (Kelly Minter/All Things New), we pondered through chapter two last week.  Verses 14 and 15 have played over and over in my mind with such intensity.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

We, those who belong to Christ, have the privilege of actually being/"carrying" this sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus - the gospel - the good news of salvation!  This knowledge brings life over death, power over weakness, forgiveness over sin... eternal life.

One question we were to answer:  What does the fragrance of Christ look like on a person?
I heard: gentleness, grace-filled, patient, joyous, pleasant, welcoming, inviting...

A couple of weeks ago, we bumped into Kellie's kindergarten teacher in a restaurant.  We were so thrilled to see her, so we hugged each other with excitement.  Kellie whispered, "you still smell the same - so sweet!".  Now keep in mind, Kindergarten for Kellie was 21 years ago, but we remember well that first year of school.  She was very sad to be at school, to be away from her mom all day - she cried... a lot... most of the day... for weeks.  Her sweet teacher offered comfort, grace, welcome, gentleness and patience and joy each day as Kellie adjusted to her new daily experience.  Maybe she still wears the same perfume she wore 20+ years ago, but I believe the reality is that Kellie remembered the fragrance of her teacher's kindness.

So... what about you?  Would the list above describe you?  Are you striving to share the love of Christ through your actions, attitudes and words?

Much food for thought for me this week - and not the rotten chicken in the disposal...

Heavenly Father,
Give me Your strength to face this week ready to bring the knowledge of Jesus - the exquisite, sweet scent of Christ, to others.