Apology Doesn’t Always Equal Changed Behavior

“I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made….”

This lyric of the worship song, So Will I (100 Billion X) by Hillsong United, rang in my mind as I looked at a disgruntled employee in my office.

The manager stood over the young man’s chair, describing a serious event that had transpired a few minutes earlier. I was surprised by the situation but remained focused on the employee, searching him for explanation…as if his body language, his dark eyes and clearly agitated presence would reveal to me why he would have committed such an act at a professional office.

The young man expressed sincere remorse and I truly believed him. He was indeed sorry. I’m certain of it.

With certainty, I also knew that if I retained his employ, another instance of something bad would definitely ensue. Perhaps even more serious.

I thought of David and King Saul. After the second time David could have ended Saul’s life but didn’t, David confronted Saul… why did he continue to hunt David to destroy him? What had he done wrong? Saul expressed disgust in his own behavior, apologizing to David, “I’ve sinned! Oh, come back, my dear son, David! I won’t hurt you anymore.” (1 Sam 26:21 MSG)

King Saul had sincerely asked David to come back with him, but notice David “went on his way” (verse 25). Even palace living couldn’t entice David after all he experienced with Saul.

David likely believed Saul was sincere in the moment. He also knew Saul well enough to know, it was just a matter of time before another spear flew at his head.

In the world of work, it is easier to receive a sincere apology and yet, still follow established rules. Making hard decisions knowing there will be limited, if any, contact with the person adds a sprinkle of ease. Still hard, but not like seeing the initially remorseful person regularly, observing again and again the repentant heart offend, hurt and leave new scars in the wake of their path.

God is merciful. To have us consistently sinful humans come to Him with remorse, knowing we’ll fall again, He still accepts and loves us. From a human perspective, it’s much easier to cut the person out of your life. Thankfully, He’s not us.

Let’s be clear that I do not see His heart in “everything” such as disgusting spiders, truly evil humans, etc., but I could see good in the young man across from me. I had observed him for a couple of months and surmised there was something in his life causing confusion in his mind and cluttered thinking that led to irrational comments and eventually, the concerning event which transpired. But, he was also energetic, engaging and had mentioned on more than one occasion that he liked his job.

I pray the young man grows wiser. We all fall short. It’s how we move forward that continues to develop our character.

“And as You speak, a hundred billion failures disappear…”

(Hillsong United, So Will I)

I Didn’t Want to Leave Church on Sunday

Not my church, but pretty, isn't it? Photo courtesy: http://www.weec2011.org/

Not my church, but pretty, isn’t it? Photo courtesy: http://www.weec2011.org/

I especially didn’t want worship to end. As is often true for believers, sometimes the hardest weeks end in the most intimate worship.  It is something inexplicable to those who don’t know Christ. Praising an invisible God despite disturbing news and years of seemingly unanswered prayers. Those kinds of hard weeks…where you are surrounded by a few very heavy circumstances.

Most recently, I’ve been near hurting people who are dealing with deeply life-altering situations. Although it’s not happening to me personally, I feel the sting of shock, injustice, fear and overwhelming sadness alongside them. The emotional pain is devastating. The questions are endless. The heartache is crushing. My faith has felt terribly insufficient.

Then, worship began.

A mighty fortress is our God… (He gives me security after this world shakes me to the core)
A sacred refuge is your name
… (He provides shelter from the worldly concerns)
We will keep our eyes on You
… (If I keep looking at the world, the sadness will overwhelm me)

During worship, God gently reminded me (once again) that I’m not on the throne, no matter how often I forget that truth. He alone saves. I can comfort and answer questions, but I’m not Jesus! I am the servant, He alone gives peace.

A few months ago on a Sunday morning, my son asked, “Mom, why is church so important to you?” I think he was particularly tired that morning and wishing I’d agree to stay home! I was unprepared for the question-perhaps because I too was exhausted that particular day. I offered some lame answer while corralling three teenagers into the car, but the question stayed with me.

This past Sunday, I formulated a less-lame response to his question. Church is not a social gathering for me. Sure, it provides fellowship, but more intimate relationships are experienced in small groups. Church service is restorative. After six days in the world, I need a reprieve from the depravity, the images, the diseases, disappointments, and this Babylonian culture. Does anyone else feel the same?

A Mighty Fortress Video with Lyrics (youtube video)