March 4, 2020

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Joel 2:12-13

In one particular episode of Andy Griffith, Andy lets his son Opie have a sling shot if he promises to be careful. “I promise,” says Opie. But as he walks around with his new toy in his hand, he proceeds to shoot at everything in his path, including a bird on a nearby branch. The rock finds its mark, and Opie finds himself pleading with the lifeless bird to “Fly away, please, fly away.” In the time that follows, he avoids his father as much as possible. Finally, Andy goes and confronts him in his room where he has been holding himself hostage alone and miserable. He pulls the terrible truth from him. “Are you going to punish me?” Opie asks in a small voice. “No,” replies Andy opening a window. “I’m going to make you sit here and listen to those birds calling for their mama who will never return.” The hardest part of confession is facing the awful consequences of sin. It is painful and difficult, and yet this is what is needed to rend your heart before God. For me this would be impossible except for the saving grace of God I see revealed in Jesus Christ. In Christ, crucified and risen, I finally see and accept that God is truly gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, relenting from punishing. Only then can I come out of my isolation and misery to embrace and be embraced by the love and forgiveness of God. At the end of the episode Opie, forgiven and freed, raises the baby birds left motherless by his thoughtless act. Likewise, only when I have turned and confessed and been enveloped by a love greater than my sin, can I begin to attempt restoration in the name of Christ for others and myself.

Merciful God,
Search me for sin that is seen and unseen. Help me to face the reality of any hurtful words or actions. Help me to know that you are abounding in steadfast love that seeks to restore and redeem. Help me to trust in your mercy so I can find the strength to say, “I’m sorry,” when it is appropriate. In your grace, help me to make amends as best I can to the glory of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Rev. Beth Hoskins

About the Contributor:
Rev. Beth Hoskins is the Stated Supply at Landrum and Inman Presbyterian Churches. She is a child of Oakland Avenue Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill, SC and has served churches in Highlands, NC; Columbus, GA; Ormond Beach, FL; Woodruff, SC. She enjoys sipping hot tea on a cold day, attending to her two rescue cats, reading, cooking, and computer coding.