This Sunday’s reading is the one with the sheep and the goats.
You know the one. The one where God places the sheep on the right and the goats on the left on the day of judgement. I think about this passage often. When I fail to see or react with empathy to another person, I wonder if once again I’m gonna be in the category of the goats – herded off to eternal damnation.
In the same breath though, I remember something that has happened frequently with one of my sons over the last few weeks. Recently, he’s been acting up on the way to school. My sons each have a metal water bottle which I thought it was a great idea back in August. Now, however, I’m not so sure. Because when one of my twins decides to be grumpy in the mornings, he loves to take his grumpiness out on his metal water bottle. He twists and turns his backpack until the bottle wobbles free and makes a satisfying “clunk” on the ground that could wake the dead. He does it over and over, and I never fail to jump each and every time (even when I’m trying to ignore his behavior). His small outbursts on the way to school have resulted in the loss of a daily candy treat the boys each covet.
Often, after he’s heard about the loss of his daily candy, he walks away to school dejected throwing the metal water bottle one more time for good measure.
But then, each and every time, something in him changes and he stops and turns and runs to me to hug me tight right before running into school. In that moment, he’s asking for forgiveness and, in that moment, for me, all is forgiven. All I wanted and desired was that change of heart and movement forward to something better.
And so it is with us, I believe. We will have many goat-y moments in our lives – moments where we failed to care for the other. But redemption and change and movement forward is always possible. And every time we are ready, God will still be standing there waiting for our hug.
My prayer today is that we just not wait too long. Not because we are afraid we will miss the opportunity for forgiveness and movement forward but because we love God and, in turn, love all God loves.
Let us not keep God waiting anymore.