Thursday after Ash Wednesday

by Matthew B. Harper

Habakkuk 3:18-19 …I will exult in the Lord God of my Salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength…

I lay my weakness before the Lord, and I rely on His strength. But it is very telling that the words of Habakkuk come after affirmations of the Lord’s judgment, and the Lords coming destructive powers. We follow a just God, and Justice requires punishment.

Paul puts aside the things of his past, so that he would not rest on his past labors, but would always work for new tasks. But putting aside the things of the past also means leaving our failures behind. It means embracing the forgiveness of God, and allowing God to heal the things that are behind us. Paul was a murder of Christians many times over, but that was in his past. He is always mindful of his sin and his sinful nature, but when he was following God, he was trusting God. He could not change his past, but he made sure that God filled his present, and guided his future

In Prison we live with this same burden. My past is dominated by the guilt of horrible crimes, and my present is consumed with the regret and atonement for those things. As I have become one of the mature in Christ I have striven, like Paul, to turn my focus to “reaching forth unto those things which are before.” To allow God to fill my present, to allow God to focus my future, and not to live without hope, crushed by what I have done. I can only leave that to God, focus my face forward, and rest and rely on the strength of the Lord.

“O God the father, Creator of heaven and earth,

O God the Son, Redeemer of the world,

O God the Holy Ghost, Sanctifier of the faithful,

O holy, blessed and glorious trinity, one God,

Have mercy upon us.” BCP 148

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