Today’s Word from Pastor Tom…

“Hey you #%#*!! jerk!” was what I yelled in my fantasized response to his littering my personal park. “Pick up your #%#!! trash!”

Actually, the above photograph is not my personal park. Lovely picture though, don’t you think? This is where we typically stay when we come down to the desert for time away. If you couldn’t tell, it is the fairway of a spectacular golf course and the lovely hill on the other side is an Audubon Sanctuary for birds. We get to watch birds, and crazy people play resort golf which generally implies a level of expertise somewhere south of rank awful. One day we witnessed people hitting golf balls at each other. Not sure who started it, but I was pretty glad when one of the combatants appeared to run out of ammunition (golf balls). I actually think they were husband and wife. What a hoot!

People are supposed to refrain from entering the Audubon Sanctuary looking for their errant shots. Drop a new ball, no penalty. In the interest of full disclosure, the real issue is that if they enter said area it means, in all probability, there will be fewer treasures for me to find. Under cover of dusk, or as a stalwart of the dawn patrol, I consider the Sanctuary my personal hunting grounds. A successful trip can set me up for the entire season. I am not fond of people entering my Audubon Refuge looking for their golf balls.

Besides that, what really hacks me off is people throwing their litter in the Sanctuary. Beer cans, sandwich wrappers, napkins, chip bags, etc, etc. I have little pretend conversations where I scream naughty things and they scamper back to the site of their mess and genuflect while begging my forgiveness. Because I am benevolent (in my fantasy conversations) I forgive them, but only after they have cleaned up their garbage and left a pint of blood for the blood bank, and a donation for animal rescue. I like to think of myself as a benevolent liege for the Audubon Sanctuary which is across the fairway and happens to be hiding my yet to be discovered golf balls. Which, in truth, really aren’t mine except for the purposes of my vacation, and this blog.

This morning when I was walking my park-like setting picking up people’s litter, feeling all self-righteous and frustrated, I found myself wondering, how does God do it? How is it that God just picks up our litter, aka bears our sins, and leaves us redeemed? How does God do that? Too often, when I think back on my life, I see the failures, mistakes, and really bad decisions. It’s like litter. It’s like I have gone through life, intentional or otherwise, leaving a mess behind me and what does God do? Forgives me. Picks up my unrighteous mess and leaves me clean. I see the litter, God sees Jesus. What an amazing transaction. We see judgement and God sees an opportunity for grace.
Utterly amazing.

Brenda and I raised three kids. I was never fond of picking up after my kids. How does God do it? God does not follow behind like the man in the parade with a shovel picking up animal droppings. No, God has gone ahead. The cross is forever ahead of us reminding us that the sins (mistakes, litter, crappy decisions) of today have already been forgiven. It all makes for a better life not having to continually be looking back at our messes, but free to look forward unencumbered, trusting in God’s grace.

Still wish though that those launching errant, little white orbs into the Sanctuary would feel inclined to just let them go and trust there is yet a new life for them (on Whidbey Island). Okay, I admit, not the best theology, but kinda fun nonetheless. Be at peace, God loves us.

See you soon,
Pastor Tom