Monday Memo: Unbelievable

Terry Walton



I Was Thinking…

Ash Wednesday is this week.  It signifies the beginning of the season of Lent, forty days (excluding Sundays) of honest soul searching and repentance.  This Wednesday I will hear once again the words, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  Both are important for my listening and responding…maybe for you too.

I find myself watching way too much TV.  Not only do I watch too much TV, but I seem to be drawn often to ‘Dateline’ or ’48 Hours’ or ‘20/20.’ I become intrigued by the mystery of a ‘who done it’ for usually a missing person that unfortunately inevitably ends in a murder.  These television magazine documentaries are filled with unbelievably horrible circumstances that create havoc for too many lives.  Unbelievable!

I find myself reading the Scripture not enough.  But when I do, I all too often am reminded that horrible circumstances are not just for 21st-century television.  Cain kills Able.  Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery and lie to their father.  Jacob steals Esau’s birthright.  Judas sells Jesus to the authorities.  Peter denies Jesus not once, not twice but three times.  Saul holds the garments for those who stoned Stephen. Unbelievable!

Why is it that too many of us are drawn to ‘R’ rated movies?  They are filled with adult language, violence, nudity, and adult content (and that’s putting it mildly).  ‘G’ and ‘PG’ rated films do not draw the crowds or the streaming attention that ‘R’ rated films do.  Unbelievable!

Why is that most people remember the story of King David and Bathsheba?  He sees her bathing across the patio roof.  He lusts for her and in his mind, he believes he can have whatever he wants…after all he is King.  He has her husband placed on the front lines of battle so he will be killed, and David can have Bathsheba for himself.  Sounds very familiar to a ‘Dateline’ or ’48 Hours’ or ‘20/20’ doesn’t it?  Unbelievable!

Enter a voice of God, Nathan the prophet.  He tells David a story about a wealthy man who had an immense herd of cattle and sheep and a poorer man who had only one small lamb.  The man with the one small lamb raised the lamb as a pet.  It grew up with his children.  It shared his food, drank from his cup, and even slept in his arms.  Yet the rich man chose to slaughter the poor man’s one lamb for a traveling guest than to select one from his immense herd of cattle and sheep.  Unbelievable!

When Nathan finishes the story, David is filled with righteous indignation and he says to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die!  He must pay for that lamb four times over because he did such a thing and had no pity.”  In essence, David said, “Unbelievable!”

It was then Nathan who said to David, “You are the man! You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own.” (2 Samuel 12:1-9) David had sinned!  He was caught.  Adulterer.  Murderer.  Abuser of power.  A man, who had one time, was after God’s own heart had lost his way.  Unbelievable!

Thank God, David had not lost his way so far that he was unable to hear the voice of God.  Psalm 51 is his prayer of repentance that accepts full responsibility for egregious behavior…his sins.  It is a beautiful moment when David returns to his God, still having the consequences of his sin, yet back in the relationship, which at one time he cherished, with God.  Unbelievable!

You and I live in a culture that has developed a highly effective ability to rationalize and justify any type of behavior.  We hardly use the word ‘sin’ anymore.  We ‘make mistakes’.  We ‘mess up’.  We say ‘Oh, well, nobody’s perfect’.  Unbelievable!

May this Wednesday have meaning for us.  May the season of Lent move us away from our rationalizations and justifications.  May we recognize our sinful tendencies, seek forgiveness, and repent…turn away from sin…turn toward God, once again.  If we will…it will be ‘unbelievable’ what God will do in and through our lives.

Always Thinking…

The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop 

comments powered by Disqus