Monday, August 16, 2010


I just watched Eat, Pray, Love, a film starring Julia Roberts new out this weekend.

Since this is not a movie review, I won’t bore you with details.

I’m drawing (some might say out of context) not a direct quote because I don’t remember it exactly, but more a theme from the “Pray” part of the character’s journey. Liz, the writer of the biographical book of the same name, experiences her spiritual awakening in an ashram in India, the answer to her life’s problems coming in this phrase: forgive yourself.

I have a big problem with that.

While it is important to forgive yourself in order to function in good psychological health, the act in and of itself does nothing to save the soul.

If it did, then we’d have no need of God, or more, Jesus.

This is about more than beliefs. This is about reality.

The truth of the matter is that sin is not just a word to represent a bad feeling. And it is much more than bad behavior.

Sin is a blot, an actual stain that mars and damages our spirit, soul and body. It sticks crazier than super glue, it devours like a flesh-eating virus, it kills. No medicine, remedy, positive attitude, incantation or ceremony reverses or eliminates the effects of sin. Nothing you do, least of which is forgive yourself, will help.

You sin, you die. Simple as that.

Unfortunately, many don’t want to believe such stark truth. From a worldly perspective, that seems unfair, illogical, too devastating. We don’t want to see our depravity or entertain hopelessness. And in many cases, we don’t want to give up the sin that kills us.

So, is God unfair? He’s the one with a problem with sin, right? If He’d just look the other way, all would be okay. Wouldn’t it?

Oh, no. Not at all.

Had He looked the other way, we’d all perish! God is not killing us. Sin is. God wants to heal us of that sin, give us life. And the only way of doing that is for someone else to die instead of us.

That’s Jesus.

Since Jesus took into Himself that which kills us, God can offer us forgiveness.

Accepting God’s gift of forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice is our only hope. His forgiveness touches the inner most hidden places of our pasts, our motivations, our sickness, and truly sets us free.

Nothing we can do ourselves remotely compares. In fact, everything we do ourselves just leaves us dying.

God is not the bad guy. He is the eternal Lover who displays so much passion for you that He rescues us at great cost to Himself, despite our resistance and outright rebellion.

Reading Psalm 106 recently, I was touched by God’s heart for His beloved. It describes again Israel’s story, their coy relationship to a perfect Lover, how they cheated on Him, ignored Him, refused to trust in His love. Verse 20 says: They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull…

What a sad description in the midst of a love story.

This Psalm also details the emotional reactions of God toward His unfaithful bride (how Israel is described, fyi). He’s mad, hurt, jealous, devastated, ready to wipe them off the face of the earth. Their adulterous behavior cuts Him, the God of the Universe, to the quick.

Aside from it killing us, that’s what sin does to God’s heart. Breaks it.

Even in brokenness, though, tenderness spills out. Verse 43 says: Again and again He rescued them… And in 45: He remembered His covenant with them and relented because of His unfailing love.

If anything about the covenant God offers us is unfair, it is that He endures so much heartache from His wandering beloved.

It pains me to watch movies like Eat, Pray, Love because a lot of people are in the same boat Liz found herself and are seeking for, she actually admits this, peace. Hurting people (that would be all of us at one point or another) need the unfailing love of a Power much greater than ourselves to experience that peace.

At one point in the movie, the very non-No Country for Old Men, sexy and sensitive Javier Bardem playing Phillipe tells Liz (Julia Roberts), “You don’t need a man. You need a champion.” I love that line. Not only is it true in our earthly lives, but it is true in an eternal sense as well. And forgiving yourself does not gain you that champion. Our incredibly loving and monumentally merciful God is our champion because He’s forgiven us, if we will only choose Him.

No wonder Psalm 106 starts out like this:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

His faithful love endures forever.

Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord?

Who can ever praise Him enough?


Have a blessed week, Dry Ground friends!

(photos by


Anonymous said...

I haven't read the book, nor was I anxious to see the movie because I feared this very thing you're writing about.

Darn it.

Thanks for this post, great insight, Lori.