I once took it upon myself to “help a brother out” by taking care of some significant house-keeping tasks that a close friend had been avoiding. Like Snow White whirling about the home of the Seven Dwarfs, I whistled and hummed as I happily set about putting things right in this beloved procrastinator’s personal space. As I flew about my work, I grinned broadly, imagining the sheer delight this unexpected boost in the right direction would elicit from the unsuspecting beneficiary.
So, imagine my complete shock when, instead of thanksgiving and praises, I was met with an angry string of accusations describing my helpful ministrations as nosiness and meddling! Deaf to my tearful protestations, the object of my affection and aid stormed off and I, too, huffed off to my room to nurse my wounded pride.
Some time later, a homemade card was slipped under my door. On the front, the words “Upon reflection,” were artistically emblazoned above an embellished photo of a penitent-looking squirrel holding out an acorn peace-offering. As I opened the card and continued reading, I burst out laughing as the sentence concluded: “I have been an ass.”
Snickering and wearing a sheepish grin, the repentant author burst into my room and smothered me with a hug. Amid chuckles, we decided that the phrase “upon reflection,” needed to become a staple commodity in our vocabulary; a delicious, delightful undo button giving us the power and privilege of a gracious and humble U-turn when needed.
Reflection is the act of giving serious thought and consideration to something – mulling it over in your mind and meditating on it. It involves truthful examination of facts, not just feelings. Reflection sometimes requires that we take time to sit back and adjust our position so that we can see more than just one perspective.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells a parable about an arrogant and rebellious son who demands his inheritance while his father is still alive, and having gained it, heads as far away from home as possible. He lives riotously and quickly squanders his entire inheritance. Bankrupt, deserted by fair-weather friends and stranded in a foreign land struck by famine, he hires himself out to someone who sends him to his fields to feed pigs. Half-crazed with hunger, even the pigs’ food starts looking good to the young prodigal, but unfortunately for him, the job does not include a meal-package.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.”
It sounds suspiciously like an “upon reflection” moment, doesn’t it? How about you? Are there some big or small U-turns that are needed in your life?
A prelude is an action or event that serves as an introduction to something more important. In Isaiah 1:18, God makes this amazing, heartfelt plea to His rebellious, prodigal people, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Our Heavenly Father’s gracious forgiveness and full restoration awaits every penitent soul, and honest reflection is the starting point of that journey, the necessary prelude to repentance.