Lord Jesus, we praise You, for You are the source of all blessings. You make a way for us to live in relationship with You. You lovingly come to free us, forgive us, and show us the way to a new life in You. Forgive us for the times we’ve failed to recognize that the stories of our lives are the story of You redeeming us. Thank you, Father, that You so love the world that You gave Your only Son, “so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). Thank you for so generously giving Yourself for us. Help us to know, not just with our head but with our whole being, how Jesus’ coming is truly good news for our lives. Lord, help us to live in the true joy and gratitude for all that You have done for us. Jesus, we trust in You. We make this prayer in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Seeing the sign, “Puppies for Sale”, a little boy asked the store owner, “How much are you asking for those puppies?’’
“Fifty dollars each.”
The boy emptied his pocket. “I have $2.37 – can I have a look at them?”
The storeowner whistled, and out came Lady, followed by five balls of four-legged fur. One puppy limped and lagged considerably. “What’s wrong with that one?” the boy asked.
“He was born without a hip socket. The vet says he’ll limp for the rest of his life.”
The boy’s face lit up. “That’s the puppy I want to buy!”
“If you really want him, I’ll give him to you.”
“I don’t want you to give him to me,” said the boy, annoyed. “He’s worth every penny. I’d like to give you $2.37 right now and fifty cents every month until he’s paid for.”
“Young man, this puppy is never going to be able to run, jump, or play!”
The boy rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled leg supported by a bulky metal brace. “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and this puppy will need someone who understands.”
We all see “crippled” parts of ourselves that sadden, discourage, infuriate, embarrass, or even repulse us. We know they are there. Some of our own making, but most are not. And we do our best to wish or will or pray them away…The problem is, as long as I’m bent on fixing, repairing, and renovating in order to make myself more presentable or lovable or acceptable, I am postponing the ability to receive any gifts in the moment is have right now…We have the ability to receive, to be loved, to know our value – only from a place of vulnerability. Because in our nakedness, our crippledness, our brokenness and our vulnerability, we have no power, no leverage, nothing to bargain with. Our identity is not dependent on becoming somebody, impressing somebody, or removing all imperfection. We can be – literally be – at home in our own skin...
Granted, there are flawed and weak parts that could change. But we can’t change anything until we can love it. We can’t love anything until we can know it. We can’t know anything until we can embrace it…And we touch wholeness in that place of vulnerability. There we are human. There we are sons and daughters of God. There we hear God speak our name. The very image of God is imbedded in this fragile nature, in its very breakability. It is in that vulnerability where we find exquisite beauty: compassion, tenderness, empathy, listening, understanding, and hospitality. The alternative? To protect ourselves from all manner of breakability and crippledness and to seal off our hearts and souls.
(Excerpts from The Power of Pause, Terry Hershey; Loyola Press, 2009)
Reflect on those parts of yourself you have hidden from God.
Write a letter to God about that on a piece of paper or on your computer.
Have mercy on me, God, in Your kindness.
In Your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
My offenses truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.
Against You, You alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in Your sight I have done.
That You may be justified when You give sentence
and be without reproach when You judge.
O see, in guilt I was born,
a sinner was I conceived.
Indeed, You love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean;
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear rejoicing and gladness,
that the bones You have crushed may revive.
From my sins turn away Your face
and blot out all my guilt.
A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
nor deprive me of Your Holy Spirit.
Give me again the joy of Your help;
with a spirit of fervor sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors Your ways
and sinners may return to You.
O rescue me, God my helper,
and my tongue shall ring out Your goodness.
O Lord open my lips
and my mouth shall declare Your praise.
For in sacrifice You take no delight,
burnt offering from me You would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit,
a humbled, contrite heart You will not spurn.