To begin, two quotes:
"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." --Maya Angelou
"It is the things I have left undone which haunt me far more than the things that I have done."
I keep thinking I should go to jail. I could be a literacy tutor or participate in a Bible study or just visit someone who doesn't get visitors. It's one of those things we're told to do if we're interested in doing unto Jesus, and I could do it. I worked in a public defender's office in Tennessee back in the day, so I've spend time in jails, and I've spent time around prisoners. It's not like the idea makes me uncomfortable, though between you and me, I hated the way the jails smelled, and the prisoners themselves, after a few months in, always had pasty white skin because they almost never saw the sun. They called it a prison tan.
But I don't go over to the county jail to tutor or study the Bible or just hang out, and the reason why is because I fear the day there's a knock on my door and my newly released prison friend is standing at the doorway. Would I really let him into my house? What if that newly released prisoner is Jesus? Aren't we supposed to assume he is?
Most days it's just easier if Jesus doesn't knock on my door.
See, when you get right down to it, I think real Christianity is really hard, and some days I don't think I'm quite up to it. I'm pretty good with the honoring your mother and father thing, and the not lying thing, and the not stealing thing. I wasn't always so good, but I was working some stuff out when I was younger. Like Ms. Angelou, I know better now and I do better now. But that's only half of the equation.
There's a lot I leave undone. That concerns me so much more than the things I did. Sometimes I imagine Desmond Tutu (in his starring role as God) looking at me with big, sad eyes. He's shaking his head and sighing. I've read the instruction manual, right? Am familiar with the Sermon on the Mount? And what about feeding the hungry and visiting the prisoner do I not understand?
I don't have any great answers here, no great summary--you know, I've decided I WILL go visit the prisoner! I WILL trust God! One of the purposes of observing Lent is to ponder our sinful ways. And that is what I'm doing. I pray that God will show me how I can serve Him in this world and that He will give me a big push in the right direction so I won't be haunted by what I've left undone.
Okay, I halfway pray that. On my good days. Maybe a halfway prayer is a mustard seed. What do you think?