"We have done and left undone. We are foolish and weak and blind and self-willed and men of little faith. But all the time [the Church] stands there, holding the cross, telling us that there is forgiveness, that we have not been left to ourselves, that no matter how shocking the image that we finally see of ourselves in the light of God's truth, God himself has done something about it all."
~ Elisabeth Elliot, All That Was Ever Ours

Cancer is reaching into every corner of my life and changing me forever. Oddly enough, it seems to be a positive experience so far. Self-reflection is a two-edged sword: to some it is a lost art; to others a pit in which to wallow continuously. Like everything else, I have to add a healthy dose of moderation when I find myself in a reflective mood. I tend toward the pessimistic end of the spectrum, and the bad and evil and discontent and horrible is what jumps out when I look too closely in the mirror. Others, I know, tend toward the optimistic end, ignoring ugliness and evil and reflecting only on what is positive and good. If you are going to look carefully at yourself, remember you are called to action, not just repentance. Ah, there is the sting! Life would be so much easier, wouldn't it, if the fullness of our calling is to simply say "sorry"?!!

I had a long talk about this subject with the girls yesterday, after I was angry and ugly during a difficult departure from home. It took nearly an hour to get everyone in mittens, hats, coats, and boots, and I found myself at my wit's end by the time we got out the door! After talking to my Father God about it, going in tears before His throne to beg forgiveness and aid, I apologized to my kids and we talked at length about perfection, imperfection, redemption, forgiveness. They wanted to know, can you be a mean person and go to heaven? Can you be a nice person and go to hell? What does it mean to repent?

Repentance can't come without a good, long look in the mirror first. If I persist in a false idea about how good I am, I may not realize my need for God's redemptive love. If I choose, instead, to wallow in guilt over my ugliness and badness, I won't recognize the overwhelming power of the work done on the Cross. As always, I am trying to walk the tightrope in the middle, the narrow pathway under my faltering feet as I look upward, to my Savior.

Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:31-32

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:7