Ash Wednesday, February 17

Lenten Meditations 2012

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Ash Wednesday, February 17

Psalm 95* & 32, 143; Amos 5:6-15; Heb. 12:1-14; Luke 18:9-14

Heb. 12:1-14
My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.

I spend a great amount of energy seeking approval from others but even more than approval, I yearn for avoidance of chastisement of any kind. Here is an illustration: The firm I work for gives annual performance assessments, commenting on strengths as well as development points of each employee. For ten years now it has been the same thing.

When I receive the email with my performance assessment, I wait until I am alone, open the assessment and frantically scan it for the “needs improvement” section. I literally squeeze my eyes closed and then quickly open them to read the section – hoping that cringing will make it sting less – kind of like pulling off a band-aid quickly.

Instead of outgrowing this practice when I graduated from report cards, I’ve brought what started in school with me to the workplace! How I loathe words of criticism, even when they are framed constructively! When those words come from my family members even a loving friend, they sting all the more and unfortunately receive a defensive and emotional reaction.

The author of Hebrews tells us this life is a race, a process, not some perfect still-life painting, yet that is what I seem to want. Will I ever truly believe that when I am chastised through God directly or through those He has lovingly put in my life, it is done out of love? Instead of being discouraged or defensively insecure in the face of chastisement, can I remember that it is proof of His love, helping me on the path toward “the peaceful fruit of righteousness”? I hope so.

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