Good Friday has come and gone. We celebrate Easter tomorrow. Today, we wait.
Out of the three days, I think this one elicits unsettling feelings for me the most. I can only imagine how the Disciples felt today, some 2000 years ago. A sense of loss and directionless.
Think about it, when tragedy strikes we tend to be in a state of shock. It’s after the shock wears off, maybe a day or two later, that the pain is truly realized.
I remember when my dad died in 2010, I woke and sat straight up in bed just a minute before my phone rang. From that moment till the funeral, I was in a state of shock. I remember people asking me if I was ok, and I held myself together so well I was even convinced.
But at the funeral I lost it. The shock of this new reality had wore off, and my emotions couldn’t be held back any longer. It was the days after my dad’s passing that hit me the hardest, not the actual event of his death.
The day between Good Friday and Easter, I can only imagine was similar for the Disciples. The reality of what they had witnessed begins to settle in. Their King, the one who was supposed to rescue them from the Roman Empire and establish a new Kingdom, was dead.
Scripture doesn’t give us much insight into what the Disciples were thinking or doing that day, it was also the Sabbath. Something in me though, says they felt their hopes and dreams of a future vastly different from the life they had been living, now become seemingly trashed. Their best friend, teacher and leader, was gone. By all appearances, hope of any future was gone.
But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Maybe you find yourself in a similar spot of life. Maybe you haven’t just walked through the lose of a loved one, but perhaps you find yourself in a state of uncertainty. Like, it feels as if your plans are just falling apart. Maybe you’ve been laid off or furloughed from your job. Your kids are driving you nuts. That vacation you had planned and been saving for, now you’re not so sure it’s going to happen. How are you going to make ends meet?
There are moments in our life where much like I imagine the Disciples felt, we don’t know. We just feel lost. You know what, though?
It’s ok to feel lost. It’s ok to feel like everything is crashing around us. It’s part of being human.
It doesn’t mean the story is over though, and that’s important to keep in mind.
While I imagine the Disciples felt lost after Jesus died, the reality is that the best part of the story was just around the corner. What they forgot in the midst of the tragedy, was the hope Jesus told them would come out of it!
When the reality of your tragedy hits, remember it’s not the end of your story. Stay faithful and trust God’s purpose for you as His child. Hope is just around the corner, and it will be better than anything you could have imagined.
It’s really funny how God works in our life sometimes. I had this whole post written and scheduled to go live this morning, and something in my gut this morning said I needed to pull it and wait. So I did. No idea why, but the sense was very clear that I needed to wait.
So far I have been an observer of others facing more hardship than my family in the continued wake of this virus crisis. And as I reflected on this, several verses and a story came to mind. The story of Joseph in the Old Testament is a familiar one for many. If you haven’t read it in the Bible, you have probably seen some movie or play depicting it. You can find it in Genesis 37-50, but the part that I am drawn to is at the end.
See, Joseph found himself at the end of the story having just buried his father Jacob, and reunited with his fearful brothers. They were afraid that without their dad, whom Joseph loved greatly, to protect them that Joseph would take his vengeance for their betrayal so many years ago. But Joseph responds in a way that is so counter to what they expected, and how I’m sure many of us would be inclined to do.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”– Genesis 50:20
Joseph did something I think a lot of us struggle with. He didn’t get tunnel vision with the circumstances of his brother’s betrayal. He didn’t let his hardship negatively determine his mindset.
He kept his focus on the big picture.
See, being sold to slave traders by his brothers wasn’t the only tragedy he faced. Later while serving in Potiphar’s house, he was falsely accused of rape by his Master’s wife. Potiphar responds quickly to the situation and has Joseph stripped of his position and thrown in prison. And it was there he waited until coming into the service of Pharaoh some two years later.
Joseph understood there was more to the suffering he endured, than just to suffer. There was purpose in the hardship and persecution he faced, even if he couldn’t connect the dots in the moment. It went beyond being a catalyst for development of his own faith in God; it became the catalyst for God to use Joseph for His purpose and His glory.
Through Joseph and his suffering, the Israelites survived a famine. Because of his endurance in the face of trials, he was placed in the second most powerful position of Egypt, allowing him to not only have restoration with his family but also provide for his people in a great time of need.
God used what was meant for evil by man, for His good.
Joseph’s story embodies Paul’s words in Romans so well. Read what he wrote to the church in Rome.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.– Romans 8:28
See, there is no doubt Joseph loved God. Joseph trusted God. Regardless of what he was facing, he remained dedicated to God. Joseph had a purpose, and that was to be an instrument of God for His glory. He understood in a way I often struggle, the magnitude of the words James wrote thousands years later.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.– James 1:2-4
Joseph kept his eye on the prize. He wasn’t swayed by temptations, he didn’t neglect his gifts even though his circumstances were unfair. He persevered and remained faithful to God, trusting that in the end He was in control of it all.
I love Joseph’s story because it so pointedly reminds me of my struggle to keep the big picture in front. It’s easy for me to get tunnel vision when I’m faced with a difficult situation. If I’m not careful, my mind will race to a hundred “what-if” scenarios. I easily get wrapped up in the trial I’m facing, and can loose sight of God’s sovereignty in the midst of my chaos.
Joseph’s story reminds me that even when things are messy, God is still present with me because I am His child, and the end result will always be good not only for me, but for Him also.
He never leaves me or forsakes me, even when the circumstances around me seem hopeless. Is that something you believe? Do you believe that the messes in life you face, the hate and persecution from others you endure, that God can and will use it for His glory? That your suffering has a purpose?
See, if you love God and you are His child, He has a purpose for you. And that includes all of your story. Don’t get stuck on the present hardship, don’t let tunnel vision rob you of the truth that your Father is with you, and He will use the trials you face for good. That through them you will develop perseverance, and God will use you and your story to further His Kingdom.
Don’t let your trial convince you that nothing good can come from it. All that does is deny God’s power. It rejects the truth of His sovereignty and ability to redeem what is broken.
It rejects the accomplishment of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The greatest tragedy to ever take place was Jesus facing a trial meant for me, condemned to death in my place. And yet, God planned it from the beginning of time for the sole purpose of redeeming me!
Jesus stayed focused on the big picture, God’s glory. Much like Joseph, He endured the evil that was against Him. And in the end, God used those moments of evil intent as a catalyst to make redemption a reality for us.
As we approach Easter, I encourage you to stay focused on God’s goodness. Remember that the hardships you face, the evil brought against you by others has a purpose in God’s hands. Joseph endured and was used by God to not only save his family, but his people as well. God raised him up through the trials and hardship he went through, to be an instrument of God’s grace to those who didn’t deserve it.
Jesus, after washing the Disciples feet and instituting the Last Super on Thursday night, looked ahead to the fulfillment of His earthly mission. Hours later He would be betrayed in the garden, and placed on trial rigged with false charges. Then, he would be condemned to die the next day in our place. I can’t help but read Joseph’s words again in light of what Jesus endured and accomplished in our place.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”– Genesis 50:20
Are you alive today? Have you been redeemed through the confession of your sin and acceptance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice in your place? If not, make today your day.
As followers of Jesus, redeemed by His sacrifice, we can trust that in everything we face and endure God is working it for good. No matter how tragic the situation might be, how emotionally drained we might find ourself, God is present with us. Our needs will be met, and His purpose will be fulfilled. When we seek after Him in the midst of chaos, our faith develops. Enduring what is meant for evil against us is the catalyst for the development of perseverance, and being used by God to further His Kingdom for His glory.
We simply need to remain faithful and diligent in our pursuit of Him no matter what circumstances lie before us.
It’s Wednesday of Holy Week, and I have to ask. What have you been doing?
Really, what have you been doing?
More specifically, what have you been doing because of the significance of this week? The most profound and universe changing event is about to be celebrated in a few days.
What are you doing in light of that?
How are you preparing your heart and mind to celebrate? It’s really easy right now to check out, for most of us we are stuck at home or restricted in some fashion with where we can go and what we can do.
We have to be intentional with our spiritual health, especially in these times. So, what are you doing?
Personally I make time for worship. I have my play list of songs that have personal significance with respect to worship. Some take me back to times in college of deep struggle. Wrestling with depression, lost and broken relationships. Times where I was on my face in my dorm, worshipping because that’s all I could do. Songs that remind me of my need for rescue, something I can’t do myself.
I get alone and I worship. I make a point to spend this time with God and worship Him for who He is. To meditate on what Jesus did for me.
I want to invite you to do the same. To be intentional and worship. I’m including some of the songs from my list to hopefully inspire you. Just don’t stop here.
Be intentional. Worship Jesus.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, a day in the Church when we celebrate the event of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem recorded in the Gospels. It marked the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent. It was a day of highs for Jesus’ Disciples, I’m sure, because in just a few days their world would seemingly crash to the ground.
Jesus knew it. He knew that the praising and singing as he rode in on the back of a donkey not only fulfilled prophecy from long ago, but it would be short lived. Soon, very soon, The praise and rejoicing of who He was would turn to bitterness and hate. And in the end, He would be handed over for a false trial and execution meant for us. It was the plan all along, since before the beginning of time. A plan to rectify sin, to bridge the gap between us and God. It was a mission only Jesus could fulfill.
Leading up to that culmination of His mission, Jesus displays emotion for His pending suffering in such a raw way. In these two moments I think we get a glimpse into the humanity of Christ. They are moments that make me stop, have a pause in my heart and meditate on His words.
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”– John 12:27
Can you feel the internal struggle? Do you see the humanity of Jesus in this moment, wrestling with the emotions of knowing your death is ahead of you? Even though He knows the final outcome, Jesus still experienced the harsh reality of human emotion in the face of hardship.
As time grew closer, His feelings intensified. Days later, before His betrayal took place, Jesus got away from His Disciples to pray. He sought solitude to be with His Father, and in that moment we see Jesus experiencing raw human emotion in the midst of struggle so intense, an angel was sent to strengthen Him.
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.– Luke 22:41-44
I don’t know what struggles you are facing right now. Maybe with all the craziness in the world right now you do t have a job. You toss and turn at night wondering how your bills are going to get paid. Maybe you find yourself unable to eat because the stress and anxiety is so intense, you have no appetite.
Maybe you feel alone, trapped by your emotions and feeing like no one understands.
I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve found myself deep in a depression, unsure of how things could ever get better. I’ve had days in a row of no appetite, making myself eat something just so I wouldn’t pass out. I’ve felt alone, stuck in a pattern of thinking that no one cared or could understand what I was going through. And you know what gives me hope in those moments?
Jesus gets it too.
He isn’t just the King of Kings. Remember, He willingly left His throne to walk this earth. He isn’t just the Savior. He endured pain and humiliation. He walked this earth, faced trials and temptations before He returned to His throne. If there was ever someone who can relate to you best, it’s Jesus.
In a week we celebrate my favorite event, Jesus’ resurrection. But before that could happen, Jesus had to suffer in my place. As you go through this week, as you face whatever emotions and struggles you have, remember Jesus gets it. He understands your loneliness, your pain; He gets the struggle you face.
Let Him walk with you through it, and lead you out of it. After all, there isn’t anyone more qualified and experienced than Him.
Have you ever been faced with a trial of some kind, and found yourself focused on giving encouragement? Like, you know that what lies ahead for you will be taxing to the extreme, maybe even wondering how you are going to get through it in one piece while still retaining some shred of sanity. And yet, your focus at that moment is on others, and their needs.
Have you experienced that?
Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end. Watching a friend or family member, someone who you love and care for putting the needs of others before themselves. Even when they are getting ready to face a hardship you cannot walk through with them.
Have you experienced that?
I’ll go out on a limb and say you’ve been in one, if not both of those camps. I know for a fact that if you follow Jesus, you’re on the receiving end for sure. How? Because of Jesus’ own actions and words.
A lot of us are familiar with the story of Jesus in the Garden before His betrayal, all the way through His death and resurrection. But right before this John gives us an insider view of Jesus’ heart through what has come to be know as the High Priestly Prayer in chapter 17.
Not only did Jesus give Himself up in our place, prior to doing so He went before God in prayer with very specific requests on behalf of you and I. Check this out,
“I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.”– John 17:9
As a Child of God, a true follower of Jesus, YOU were at the center of His prayer. YOUR needs in the days to come were the focus of His heart. And those needs He lays before God because He loves us!
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”– John 17:15-19
Jesus knew what He was walking into, and He knew what His followers would soon face as well, because of their devotion to Him. And while what He willingly faced far exceeded anything we ever will, He did not hesitate to bring our needs before God on our behalf.
We are on the receiving end; the receiving end of a God who’s love is so immense and gracious, He is willing to sacrifice Himself to restore us to Himself.
Are we living in reflection of this?
Do we think, speak, act in a way that is reflective of the grace and love we have been shown? Our primary calling as a follower of Jesus is to live a life that emulates Him, and through this we fulfill every other aspect of our calling. To love others, serve as He served, shine light in the dark. He did not remove us from the world, bar us from facing difficulties; He prayed for our protection, our sanctification. He prayed that we would make a difference.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”– John 17:20-21
The way we live, speak, think, it should all reflect Christ. Why? We are not only called to do so simply as followers of Jesus, but it is through this that others may come to find Him. It’s why He calls us to be the salt of the earth, light in the dark, to stand firm in our faith through the trials and temptations we face. Our life through pursuing Christ becomes a testimony to others of His love and grace.
You are probably facing social restrictions like me, with “stay-at-home” orders spreading across our country quickly. Social distancing has become a new norm should you need to venture outside your house. And more of us are spending extensive time on-line than before. Despite the changes we face, each of us have opportunities to be Jesus. The recent restrictions and changes have not lessened the need or ability for us to live a life reflective of Christ.
So what can you do? Today, tomorrow, right now? Jesus prayed for you, not simply to exist. He prayed for you to thrive and make a difference for His Kingdom.
Be salt, be light. Today.
I’m thankful that I have an “essential” job right now. I know there are a lot of people tonight that don’t. Maybe you are in that group. And you sit there wondering what you are going to do. How are you going to pay your bills. How will you answer the questions your kids have.
How do you maintain a sense of calm and collection in the midst of seeming chaos.
How do you keep control.
See, I think most people (myself included in this struggle) grasp onto control. Voluntarily letting go is hard enough. Having it forced from you, whether by a person or circumstance, I think is even harder. And the feelings when it happens, I think are often more intense.
I have friends, and family who have had work hours cut back. Some have been put on rotating schedules, splitting the workload with others so that everyone can still get something. I have friends who have been laid off. There is a sense of lost control. And while these times are difficult and discouraging, I think it’s moments like these that highlight a truth we often want to deny.
We were never in control to begin with.
The harsh reality is that you and I don’t really control anything. It’s an illusion we parade in, finding comfort when things “go our way”. And yes, that truth can make the current situation sting a little more. For many, it means setbacks of dreams and goals. It easily leads to depression, something I and many I know have to constantly battle and be watchful of.
But in the midst of the chaos, in the moments when it feels like the rug is being pulled out from under me, I can still find peace. I don’t have to dwell in the illusion of loosing control, letting fear and despair take hold in my life. Is that easy to come to terms with? No, but it’s possible.
I often think of David in his younger years when I think of fear, depression, a sense of lacking peace. He was no stranger to it. Anointed as a young boy as the future King of Israel, he spent most of his young life being in the crosshairs of King Saul. He was hunted, constantly under threat of death from the king he was to replace on the throne. And not because he wanted to be king; God ordained it.
There were many nights I’m sure David struggled to sleep, always looking over his shoulder for someone to cross him. I can imagine the roller coaster of emotion he experienced and wrestled with when he was in Saul’s court and on the run. I would imagine it was many of the same emotions many of us find churning in ourselves now.
We get a glimpse into David’s heart and mind through many of the Psalms. One he wrote in reflection of being captured by an enemy while fleeing Saul, lamenting the constant pursuit by his enemy’s. And yet he does not fail to properly correct his perspective in the midst of hardship.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?Psalm 56:3-4
Even in the face of death at the hands of his enemies, David was able to shift his focus to a reality he came to understand well: God is in control.
That didn’t mean he was just a pawn in the world, but a steward of what God entrusted him with. That’s important to understand. The fact that we are really not in control of anything does not mean we don’t have purpose, that we are just chess pieces on a board.
David understood that he was a steward, and that regardless of what his current situation was, he was called to trust God through it all. He was in control, He had a purpose for him, and He was faithful to provide.
For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.Psalm 56:13
King David had seen time and time again, God provide in the darkest of times. David understood suffering, fear, depression; he knew the familiar feelings that come with chaos. But he never lost sight of this truth, God is in control. It might not always make sense; you might have more questions than answers in the moment.
Maybe that’s where you are right now. Maybe, you feel lost and like you have lost all control surrounding your life. Find encouragement in the truth that it was never yours to begin with, that it rests in the hands of One who is more capable than we ever could be. One who is more faithful than we could ever be.
God is in control.
Maybe you need to take a step like David did. When he was faced with what seemed like the end of his rope, he turned to God. He trusted God to be faithful and provide.
Have you? Will you?
I know it’s not easy. When the bank account just gets lower and lower, and there are still bills to be paid. When your kids start asking questions and you can’t find the answers. When you feel distance between you and your spouse as depression and despair begin to settle in.
Let David’s words be yours. Let your heart rest in the truth of God’s sovereignty in the midst of chaos.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.Psalm 56:3-4
We are living in a time ravaged by fear for many. We are seeing countries around the world being brought to an almost standstill. The future seems uncertain, and everyone has their own thoughts and opinions regarding what has and should be done.
Social media has been flooded with everything from news articles with facts and opinions to memes joking about buying to much toilet paper. For many, the thought persists that what has taken place within our country is no less than an overreaction. But for others, there is real fear. The concern they feel for themselves and their loved ones, it’s just as real and valid as the opposing opinions.
Watching my middle schooler grieve the premature end of the school year hurts. They feel the loss of social interaction with their friends, the seemingly unending solitude of the forced social isolation they must endure.
Those feelings are real.
The elderly in our families and community who understand the elevated risk they face with this illness, while also facing isolation from friends and family. What for many is already a lonely stage of life, has now indefinitely been exacerbated. No more visits from children and grandkids. No more social activities to attend.
It’s in these times, these situations, that often times our fears and concerns can overwhelm us. While we acknowledge the realness of these feelings, it’s critical we fight allowing them to over take us. But as we have seen, and continue too, many already have been overcome. Many feel a sense of hopelessness in these uncertain times.
So how should we respond?
What should the approach of those who are not overwhelmed by fear be?
It’s interesting how even in the midst of a modern crisis, Scripture provides us with timeless guidance. Listen to Paul’s words in Romans 14:13.
“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”Romans 14:13
Now Paul wasn’t dealing with a viral outbreak. He wasn’t even dealing with a community ripe with fear over an uncertain future. He was however, dealing with people who had very different outlooks and opinions regarding an issue of great cultural and religious importance.
On one hand where those who believed passionately that eating certain foods was wrong, while others believed there was nothing wrong with it. You could say they even felt the opposing party of view was overreacting. Huh, now that sounds familiar.
Paul’s point in all of it was simple. Your opinion doesn’t really matter. What does matter, is putting the needs of your brother and sister first. Specifically, those struggling, don’t be a hindrance to their growth.
Maybe you don’t think this virus outbreak is a big deal. That’s ok, you have that right to think that way. But what affect does downplaying the fears and concerns of others have? Are you considering the needs of those around you who are feeling and struggling with fear?
I love Paul’s other words in Philippians 4:8-9, I think they are so immensely practical for us right now.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”Philippians 4:8-9
Paul’s focus was on Jesus. No matter what he faced, how hard life got, his eyes did not waver from Jesus in the picture. Remember, this was a guy often writing letters of encouragement to others while imprisoned because of his faith. He did not allow his circumstances to shape and dictate his view on life, or how he treated others.
Despite where he found himself, he encouraged and spoke life into those who were struggling to cope with the issues they faced.
What is your response in these times?
Have you been overran with fear and concern of the unknown future? Are you looking forward in fear, facing uncertainty in finances, work, what you will do with your kids in the midst of this crisis? I encourage you to pray on Paul’s words he wrote to the Philippine church. Break the cycle of living in fear, and put your eyes on Jesus. Trust that He will give you the strength and endurance to persevere through the hardships. Find hope, that He has put people in your path to walk this journey with you.
Do you find yourself less concerned about the crisis we face than others? Is fear of the uncertain future something you find you just don’t struggle with? Count yourself blessed! But don’t allow your peace and confidence be a stumbling block to those who are not at peace or confident. This is not a time to downplay the fears and concerns of others. You may think certain reactions are blown out of proportion, or that people just need to get over their fears. Remember, their feelings are real. The fear and uncertainty they feel is real. What are you doing to build that person up? To lead the way in restoring hope in dark times? Stop passing judgment, and instead focus on spreading hope through words and actions of encouragement.
This is a time for the Church to shine. Christ made it clear, that we are to be the purifying element in a sick world, by and through Him. Be the salt of the earth, speak life into pain, be a beacon of light in dark times.
What is your take on this current crisis? Watching the constant barrage of opinions fly, my heart has been meditating on this. What am I doing to be a light in the darkness? What effect are my words and actions having? Are they inspiring hope, bringing peace and comfort to those overcome with fear? Am I being salt, a purifying agent in the midst of hurt and pain?
What about you?
Join us tomorrow night @ 7pm on Facebook for a time of conversation!! Follow the link here for more info!
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!Psalm 51:1-2
When was the last time you laid it all out to God? Like, really let it all hang out. No hesitation, no concern for what He might think of you or the mess.
When we the last time you just got real with God?
David’s Psalm 51 is maybe my favorite psalm because that’s exactly what he does. He gives us an inside view into his confessional life with God. It wasn’t pretty, and it sure wasn’t censored. He didn’t hold back the brokenness he felt, the deep desire for something greater in his life.
And you know what prompted him to write this Psalm?
Being called to the floor by the Prophet Nathan for his adultery with Bathsheba, his murder of her husband, and his neglect of kingly duty. I mean, you have to understand the significance of the situation. The King of God’s chooses people, anointed by God, is confronted by God’s Prophet who guided by the Spirit leads David into admission and confession for his sin.
To approach a King was a dangerous venture in and of itself. Add to it bringing hefty charges against him as Nathan did, that could easily be the end of your life. But both parties here understood who was really in control, they understood their place before a Holy God. (Check out 2 Samuel 11-12 for the whole story).
David knew his sin had found him. And he knew Nathan was right in his actions. More importantly, he understood the need for cleansing, to be purified of his sin and restored into a right relationship with God.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.Psalm 51:7-12
David uses familiar imagery for himself and his time. Hyssop was often used for medicinal purposes, but it was also used to sprinkle in Jewish rites of practice. In Exodus 12:22 hyssop is used to spread the blood on the doorposts in preparation for the first Passover. The correction of discipline can be painful, like breaking bones. It can leave a mark, much like David’s adulterous behavior had. But when they heal, there is rejoicing as function and ability is restored.
David comes to understand healing in a deeper, more significant way through this experience. He understands that while his confession and submission is essential, the true work of cleansing is done by God. It is God who makes his heart clean; it is God who renews his spirit.
It is God who brings restoration and salvation.
In a time when sin was reconciled by ceremonial sacrificial offerings, David understood that his need for restoration could not be met by the blood or burning of an animal on the alter.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.Psalm 51:16-17
The animal sacrifices were symbolic of the perfect sacrificial lamb that would be given up as Jesus Christ. And while David probably did not fully know that, he did understand what God was truly interested in. Genuine confession and repentance, a heart and spirit broken by an understanding of the pain our sin brings to God. Understanding our brokenness as sinners, in desperate need of redemption.
See, what I admire most about David is that despite his massive mistakes, that even as King he understood his need to repent. He recognized his brokenness and unworthiness before a Holy God, and his need to be restored before Him.
He wasn’t hesitant when confronted with his sin, to fall face first before God and seek His forgiveness, His mercy and grace. He knew that the only way to have restoration was to lean into God, to trust Him entirely, and rely on His process.
Do you do that? I’ll admit, it’s hard for me sometimes. There are moments that I’m really good at letting down my walls and getting real life itch God. But there are other times that I keep my defenses up, acting like God can’t handle my mess. Not only do I rob myself of the blessing of His love, grace, and restoration, but I rob Him of the joy to bless me with those things. I in essence say “no God, I don’t need that from you” when I know I do.
What would our life be like if we engaged God like David did in Psalm 51? Think about it. How would your prayer life be different? How would your interactions with friends, family, co-workers be if we would let down our defenses with God? What would our life be like if we surrendered ourself to Him, and allowed Him to intervene in the storms we find ourselves in?
Maybe it’s just me reading into it, but I think David found peace. I think he found a renewed purpose to live, and serve in the place God put him.
What’s that worth to you?
We kicked off a new series at The Anchor Church a few weeks ago. The series name is The Main Thing, and we have been diving into who The Main Thing should be in our life, and what that looks like.
This post is number four of a four part series that will mimic the four weeks of the series. Click the video below to watch week four from myself.