A Tall Order…
Author: Martha Palmer
Last year I had the joy of coming into contact with Trevor Hudson. We had a choice of two advent devotional booklets for Christmas 2018, including his. I chose the gospel booklet and loved renewing my friendship with old favorites and meeting many new gospels, spending tons of time on YouTube. What a treasure-trove of cherished old favorites YouTube is! So, when Marj and Dean Fowler insisted that the Trevor Hudson devotional was even BETTER, I was intrigued. They kindly loaned me their copy, and I started a slow meander through it, for several months of 2019. They were right – every message was short, calm and full of the Spirit. Back to YouTube to hear him in person – that lovely, gentle voice in the soft, lilting South African accent, and his kind, gentle messages that always go straight to the heart. I wanted more. My next foray was his short volume, The Serenity Prayers: A Simple Prayer to Enrich Your Life. We all know the first few lines,
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Who knew that isn’t even half of it? The prayer goes on,
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.
Trusting that he will make all things right if I surrender to his will
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with him forever.
That’s a pretty tall order, especially the part about “Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,” and it seems, especially so today. That chapter is crystal clear. We are called to love even those who commit deeds we cannot condone. We may hate the sin, but we must love the sinner. I struggle with that. I see so many appalling choices being made every day, by governments, by political parties, by courts, and by individuals, and it is oh so easy to condemn all of the people making such choices. Yet, that is exactly what we are cautioned against. God loves each of us in spite of all of our frailties, weaknesses and falls from grace. He calls upon us to do the same with our fellows. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him,” John 3:17. Can I bring myself to love those who strive to support and maintain the very actions and practices I hate? Yet Trevor goes on to say, “Only the way of positive acceptance changes human hearts.” My anger and hatred might feel satisfying and justified to me, although compassion and understanding instead could turn out to be a much more effective tool for change. How many of us could genuinely forgive the very people nailing us to the cross? And yet, how much change in the world was wrought by that very act of forgiveness?
Dear Lord, grant me the grace to love and forgive the sinner, even while abhorring the sin, and to seek to reach hearts through compassion and understanding rather than condemnation.