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Making Peace With the Past

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2014 19 Jun

It took guts for the woman to push past the men and through the door of Simon’s house (Luke 7:36-50). She may have recognized a few as clients. But no one was willing to acknowledge her in this more public setting. Inside, only one man turned to look, a smile in his eyes. It was the rabbi from Galilee.

Tears began rolling down her face in a great, purifying stream. Kneeling behind him, she caressed the rabbi’s feet, washing them with her tears. Then, as though she were performing the most sacred of acts, she slowly unwound strands of her coal-black hair, drying his feet and kissing them as she did so. With eyes still welling, she opened the bottle of precious perfume and began pouring it over his feet.

You have probably heard this story many times. But have you ever imagined yourself as that immoral woman? Perhaps it is hard to take on the role of someone who was publicly reviled for her sinful life. But is it so hard to remember the life you led before you surrendered it to Christ? For some, that life was marked by great darkness, by failures and sins and patterns of behavior that alienated us from God.

If that is the case in your life, as it was in mine, don’t let the memory of the past haunt you, overtaking your sense of God’s forgiveness. Søren Kierkegaard got the story exactly right when he said of this woman that “as she wept, she finally forgot what she had wept over at the beginning; the tears of repentance became the tears of adoration”(1).  Today, may our own tears of repentance be transformed into tears of adoration. 

(1)  Søren Kierkegaard, Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, ed. and trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), quoted in Miroslav Volf, The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2006), 169.

(Image courtesy of mmagallan/freeimages.com)