O Jesus, full of pardoning grace,
More full of grace than I of sin;
Yet once again I seek thy face:
Open thine arms and take me in;
And freely my backslidings heal,
And love the faithless sinner still.
This thought, that Jesus is more full of grace than we are of sin, is what makes us brave enough to let someone put ashes on our foreheads and brave enough to inventory our hearts during this season of Lent. Were we not assured that there is more grace in Jesus that there is sin in us (think about that for just one more minute!) then we would never have the courage to face our mortality and our brokenness.
In the third verse Wesley says,
Thou knowest the way to bring me back,
My fallen spirit to restore;
O, for thy truth and mercy's sake,
Forgive, and bid me sin no more:
The ruins of my soul repair,
And make my heart a house of prayer.
Wesley acknowledges--as we are invited to acknowledge--that God knows how to bring us back to Godself. God knows where we have wandered off, and knows how to woo us back to him (that's prevenient grace!) And only God can repair our soul and turn our hearts into a house of prayer. I think that's what most of us are looking for--we are looking for someone who knows us so intimately that that person (God!) can bring us back from the places we've wandered to, and can transform our hearts.
The work of opening ourselves to God for transformation is difficult work. But during the season of Lent I find that I long for that work. The pieces and parts of my heart have become hard and intractable, and only God can soften them and bring them into line with God's will.
I hope that you thirst for the same transformation.
Blessings for a Holy Lent,