960) Open Your Heart (c)

     (…continued)  In his book Radical Son, David Horowitz confesses his sins to the whole world; but how about to God?  Has Horowitz prayed that prayer of the tax collector, “God be merciful to me a sinner?”

     Unfortunately, he has not; not yet, anyway.  Horowitz is an agnostic, and so he has no belief in any God from whom to ask forgiveness, nor does he have a hope for any life beyond this one.  He is not an angry and mean unbeliever, like we see so much of these days.  He appreciates the faith and witness of those who do believe, but it just has not been for him.  

     Friends have talked to him about faith in God, and he always has an answer for them, he says.  But the one he cannot answer, he says, is the voice of his wife, April.

     April is his third wife, and she is a Christian.  In a more recent book, The End of Time, Horowitz tells about a brush he had with cancer a few years ago.  He survived, and is doing well, and in the book he records a conversation he had with his wife about the whole ordeal.

     April said to him: “You are so arrogant.  Think of all what God has done for you.  Look at the times he has looked after you, and how He saved you from cancer.  You need to show some gratitude.”  Then she said:  “I need you to do this for me.  If you don’t believe, then you won’t be there for me (in the life to come) and I will be alone.  And I don’t want to be without you.”

     David tried to soothe her, saying, “Don’t fret.  If there is a God I am sure he is merciful and will not condemn me for my lack of faith.”

     That is what he said.  But then he thought differently about it and said to himself:  “I thought this was a good answer, but the pain in her eyes would not quit.  She was already missing me.  And her distress caused me to reconsider what I said, and really, it was not a good answer.  In fact, I had no answer.  I was arrogant.  If there is a God, how could I pretend to know his plan and how and to whom he is merciful?  How should I know?  Maybe God’s whole idea was for me to see through the chaos of my life, and by an act of faith, discover God in it all.  Once again I was forced to question what I believed and ask, ‘Is it I who is blind?’”

     So after reconsidering, Horowitz said to his wife, “I’ll think about it.”

     And she said to him, “David, I don’t want you to think about it. I want you to open your heart.”

     That is a wonderful reply.  I want you to open your heart, she said.  That is what Christians do.  We open our hearts to God– deep, dark, shameful secrets and all– and we say, “Lord, Jesus Christ, be merciful to me, a poor sinner”  And Jesus then does indeed have mercy and forgives us all our sins.  Then we no longer have to depend on our own lame excuses and justifications, but can, like the tax collector in the parable, know we are “justified before God” by his grace.

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I John 1:9  —   If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

II Corinthians 6:13  —  In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.

Acts 16:29-31  —  The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas… and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Paul and the Jailer, unknown 17th century artist

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PSALM 51:1-4a…

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

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