Views from the Pews: Exposing our failures builds relationships

St Nicholas Church, Beverley.
St Nicholas Church, Beverley.

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17

We are now down to the very last bowl from the set we were given when we were married 23 years ago.

Rev Richard J Walker.

Rev Richard J Walker.

I’ll not say who committed the crime, but when we heard it smash in the kitchen, we both let out a collective gasp. Was it a sign: a portent?

Not at all! We just need to replace our set of bowls. But it started me thinking about how things so easily get broken in life.

Just like the careless incident in the kitchen so often our carelessness describes the clay from which we are made.

It is our careless, thoughtless words and actions that smash our relationships.

The famous verse I have quoted from Psalm 51 is quite appropriate as the church’s season of Lent gets underways. It is a season of soul-searching.

The psalmist searching within himself in saying: “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit.” He was being honest in recognising that not only do we have a propensity to break things, but that this comes from our fundamentally broken lives.

King David wrote this psalm after his affair with Bathsheba led to the murder of her husband Uriah. Arguably there was nothing more broken than that ugly incident in the life of Israel’s most famous king!

What is encouraging to me though is that the Lord isn’t shy about our brokeness.

Rather we are told “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”. As we bring our failure to God, it’s almost as if the Lord treats the admission as a deeply personal offer of worship.

Then he can start the work of mending our lives. What is not admissible however is the kind of victim blame-shifting spirit: “It’s everybody else’s fault but mine.”

This of course isn’t the whole story. Finding the right moment, we need to admit our failure to those we have hurt and apologise to them.

This surely is an opportunity. I suspect that in exposing our failure to each other we will deepen our relationships, like we do with God.

So as we examine our broken lives this Lent: what does God need to know about our broken lives?

Who needs to hear us ask for forgiveness?

People like this, the Lord does not despise.

With blessings from Richard.