Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Rush of Great Waters



Isle of Skye, Scotland
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in who's spirit there is no deceit.
(Psalm 32:1-2)

A few weeks ago I spoke with a friend for the first time in over a year. I hadn't realized that the tension between us had escalated to such dire heights until I felt it release at long last, tumble down like a hundred pound weight rolling off of my back. Had an entire year really gone by without either one of us us saying hardly anything at all to the other? Had I really successfully avoided and pushed him away week after week for three hundred and sixty five days? Looking back on my behavior, it all seems so petty and ridiculous now. But originally, evading one another had seemed like a smart idea. I had hurt him and he had hurt me and so the best way to solve our problem was obviously to pretend like nothing had ever happened. No hard feelings, right? Except there were hard feelings. We never said anything to each other. We avoided anything beyond the commonest courtesy. And the more we awkwardly avoided each other, the more and more bitter I grew toward him inside of myself.

It was easy to be bitter, far easier than approaching my friend, admitting to my sin, and receiving the forgiveness and reconciliation I craved. After all, he had hurt my feelings. He deserved my resentment. Just like I deserved his. I knew it wasn't right. Over and over, prayer after prayer, journal entry after journal entry, I thought to myself, "We're brother and sister in Christ. We're supposed to love and forgive one another the way Christ loved us." The weight of guilt began to take its toll on me, but my bitterness combined with my passive non-confrontational self kept me silent.

Silent for over a year.


For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
(vs. 3-4)

I understand why David associates unrepentant sin with physically wasting away in Psalm 32. Remaining silent when repentance and reconciliation needs to happen is like ignoring that infected, festering area on the sole of your foot, vaguely hoping it will somehow disappear on its own. Harboring the infection might seem simpler and even less painful than trying to heal it. Or maybe you have actually convinced yourself that it's not that bad. Maybe you can easily pretend that it doesn't even exist. You can still keep dancing or running or whatever it is your'e doing on your feet, so long as your feet don't fall off. But eventually you reach a point where it's out of control. The infection spreads and grows until the pain finally cripples you and you're forced to your knees, forced to heal.

I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said "I will confess my transgression to the LORD,"
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Selah

(vs. 5)

In the fall of 2010, I saw Jars of Clay in concert for the first time. It was glorious, let me tell you. But the one part of the concert that stood out in my mind the most was their performance of their song "Take My Life Apart". Before singing this song, Dan Haseltine talked about prayer and how serious it is. We often take prayer and repentance for granted. We so easily forget that when we pray, "God, please take my life apart," God takes us seriously. When we pray, "Lord, cleanse me of my inequities," He takes us seriously. More seriously than we take ourselves. Severing my sin from my life looks painful. Repentance is not a comfortable ordeal. What's worse is I know that if and when I ask God, He inevitably will cut my sin out of my life. With a sword, no less.

We are fools to approach the throne of God supposing that He will hand us a bottle of Advil to suppress the ramifications of our guilt and sin. Unfortunately, this is often what we expect. We want cheap pills to suppress the pain of our guilt when in reality we are in need of a heart transplant. But God is not interested in band-aids or stitches or easy remedies. No, the kind of work He specializes in is major surgery. His method of healing is a painful process. But it's life-saving.

Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
(vs. 6)

3 comments :

  1. True words. Funny how so often when we pray, "God, cleanse me of my sin," what we really mean is, "God, please make me feel better about myself as I continue to sin." And if you REALLY mean what you're praying, you have to be prepared for Him to follow through. Giving up on God while He's working is a little like changing your mind and jumping off the operating table with your appendix hanging out.
    Morbid as that particular visual is. :p

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  2. A very morbid, but accurate analogy nonetheless! I think this mentality really reveals itself when we sin against our brother. We're so often willing to repent on our knees before God, but reconcile myself to my brother? Oh, no. God can't be serious. It's the following through that often stumps us and reveals our hard hearts for what they are. I so often have feet of clay when it comes to repentance, but the good news is, God never gives up on me as often as I try to change my mind halfway through the process. :)

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  3. Dear Dani, that was such a convicting post. I know that these days I have been going through a time of not really wanting to follow through with what God wants to do in my life and heart - my prayers to change and grow as I repent before my Heavenly Father, while sincerely meant, are too often forgotten in my constant clinging onto any particular sin - such as harboring anger against another person, or having a spirit of pride or rebellion in my attitudes and actions. Oh, let us be willing to have our great Physician have His way in our lives, bring us close to Him and nail all our sins and infirmaties to that Old Rugged Cross!

    O Thou, to whose all-searching sight
    The darkness shineth as the light,
    Search, prove my heart; it pants for Thee;
    O burst these bonds, and set it free!

    Wash out its stains, refine its dross,
    Nail my affections to the Cross;
    Hallow each thought; let all within
    Be clean, as Thou, my Lord, art clean!'

    - Zinzendorf

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