Happy Are Those

Here is what not to do next time you are traveling. Do not put your heavy laptop in your checked baggage. I realize most of you know this. I struggle with the weight of my laptop in my carry-on, so on a recent flight I changed my routine and put it in my suitcase so I wouldn’t have to lug it around the airport. It was a direct flight … what could go wrong?

All was well until my checked bag decided to take a trip to Buffalo, N.Y. Unfortunately, I got off the plane in Norfolk, VA. Because of the lateness of the flight to Buffalo, my suitcase could not be returned to me for another day. Lesson learned.

It is hard to carry heavy things. Isn’t it lovely when you find a way to set them down?

David knew all about carrying heavy things. His many sins weighed heavily upon him. If you run a checklist of the Ten Commandments, he broke almost every one. But David also knew the joy that comes with forgiveness after you lay that heavy sin at God’s feet and repent:

Psalm 37 (New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

While I kept silent, my body wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I have admired the sacredness of the confessional booth. While protestants do not follow a practice of confessing sins to a priest, the visual example of that ornate box while sitting in a worship service must bring comfort to Catholics during mass. It is a visible, tangible reminder of the nearness of forgiveness.

All you have to do is come.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

Therefore let all who are faithful
    offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
    shall not reach them.

God is our hiding place, where we can take our sins into the sacredness of his presence and be assured of redemption. God hears us when we confess and delivers us from the harm that sin brings.

You are a hiding place for me;
    you preserve me from trouble;
    you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah

Are you carrying a burden of sin that is just too heavy to keep lugging around? The “confessional booth” of God’s heart is always open.

Happy Are Those by Michelle Robertson

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

At some point in your life, you will endure a break-up. It is as inevitable as death and taxes. It might be a romantic interest, a friend, a co-worker, a family member, or even a spouse. We know the pain that ending a close relationship can bring. The classic rock song, ”Breaking Up is Hard to Do” speaks truth into that pain. A bad break-up can leave a scar that lasts a long time.

Breaking up with someone who has wronged you is even harder. It’s hard enough when a relationship has run its natural course, but when the other person betrays you, strays from the relationship, undermines you, or is downright evil in their dealings with you, that scar can be permanent.

Our Psalm today is a lovely reminder that when we have been left in the dust by someone who has done us wrong, we don’t need to fret over it. God will take care of us in that situation by taking care of the evildoer. Our job is to let go, “let God,” and commit our way toward the justice, righteousness, and healing that only God can offer:

Psalm 37 (Common English Bible)

Don’t get upset over evildoers;
    don’t be jealous of those who do wrong,
    because they will fade fast, like grass;
    they will wither like green vegetables.
Trust the Lord and do good;
    live in the land, and farm faithfulness.
Enjoy the Lord,
    and he will give what your heart asks.

I have a friend who is going through a terrible divorce. Another friend is struggling with a rebellious and sullen teenager. Another is dealing with an ex who is trying to change their custody agreement. All of these situations are hurtful. What can we do when people let us down so terribly? David suggests that we should do good and ”farm faithfulness.” I love that phrase. We should commit to God, trust him, and WAIT.

Commit your way to the Lord!
    Trust him! He will act
    and will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
    your justice like high noon.
Be still before the Lord,
    and wait for him.
Don’t get upset when someone gets ahead—
    someone who invents evil schemes.

And in your waiting, look only at God. He will deliver you.

Let go of anger and leave rage behind!
    Don’t get upset—it will only lead to evil.
Because evildoers will be eliminated,
    but those who hope in the Lord—
    they will possess the land.
10 In just a little while the wicked won’t exist!
    If you go looking around their place,
    they won’t be there.

It is normal to feel weak in those times when someone is getting the better of you, especially when that person is acting from evil intentions while you are remaining steadfast in your righteousness. It can be tempting to be underhanded in your response, because feeling weak is so debilitating. But God calls us to a higher standard.

Remember that when you are weak, God is strong.

This battle is his.

11 But the weak will inherit the land;
    they will enjoy a surplus of peace.

May the peace of Christ surround you today as you watch what God is doing.

Watching and Waiting by Michelle Robertson