An Unthinkable Mistake-Lenten Devotion

Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

“The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to another.”

There have been some embarrassing, awkward mistakes made on live media in the not too distant past. In one instance, the master of ceremonies crowned the wrong contestant as the winner, only to have to take it away from her and give it to the actual winner.

In another instance, the person announcing the winner of an Academy Awards category announced the wrong winner and then had to take the Oscar away from the one announced and give it to the rightful winner. Embarrassing for the one making the mistake, yes. Embarrassing and painful to the one on the receiving end, oh yes.

If you are the one who has the accolade taken away, what emotions do you feel? Do you feel shocked, anger, hurt, sadness, humiliation along with the embarrassment? Very likely you do. You thought you had achieved the goal. You thought you had finished first. You thought I am getting what I hoped for only to find out you were wrong.

We, humans, make mistakes. But if there is one mistake I do not want to make, it is to be mistaken about what is asked of me by my God. Yet, I know, that I am a flawed person. I know I can make mistakes in interpretation of what God has written. I can make mistakes in discernment and understanding, in actions and deeds. How can I be sure I am doing what the owner of this world wants?

I cannot rely just on reason. I cannot rely just on tradition. I cannot rely just on experience. I must develop a faith, a way of life, in which God leads me to a point of assurance, of confidence that comes from acts of love, and then continue to strive to work out my salvation with fear (respect and trust) and trembling (constant reflection, adjustment, repentance, and prayer).

I start with the assumption that I did not create my own life. I work on the premise that God really does love me. I seek to grasp the ways I fail and seek to find ways I can succeed. I hope and desire to give what I owe and rejoice when what I give is received. I want to end this life with the joyful discovery of hearing the words, “Well done, good servant, rather than, “The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to another.”