I am renewed

Renewed, After the Blackest Sin

God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore the joy of Your Salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit.  Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.  Psalm 51:10-13

David saw lovely, young Bathsheba bathing, and he wanted her.  Being a king made this easy.  He just sent for her, and she had to come – even though she was married.  To a soldier.  Who was out fighting a war for David.

Well, you know the story.  She got pregnant.  So David called her husband, Uriah, from the battle field on the pretense of getting the latest war news from him.  Then David sent Uriah home, where David was sure he’d sleep with his wife. But he didn’t.  Uriah was too worried about his buddies still at the front.  So, David sent him back, carrying a letter to his commander that read:  “Put Uriah at the front of the fiercest fighting, then withdraw from him so that he is struck down and dies.”

David – the man after God’s own heart – conceived and carried out all this evil.  David, who composed  most of the beautiful Psalms, which I use to worship God even today, thousands of years after he penned them.  This wasn’t something David did before he found faith in God.  This wasn’t the “before” part of his testimony.  This was solidly in the middle of his life, long after God had chosen him to be king because of his passion for Him.

But God loved David far too much to allow him to continue down this dark path.  He sent a prophet to confront him, to open David’s eyes to his own evil.  The king’s heart was pierced when he realized what he’d done, when he really took the time to see it from God’s perspective, when all the justifications were stripped away.

Mourning, he sat down and penned Psalm 51. Renew me, God.  Give me back a steadfast spirit, one that resists temptation and sticks on your path.  Create a clean heart out of my filthy one, Father. Save me from myself, from my selfishness, from my lust, from my sin.  Save me, because only you can.

God did renew David.  He did wash away the blackness of that sin from his heart. Consider these words, also from David’s pen: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgression from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:11-12

Then what?  What did David promise he’d do when God renewed him? “Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to you.”  God gave David a task: Don’t waste it.  This was horrible, but don’t waste the experience.  Use it to teach others, so that they’ll avoid the same mistakes, so that they’ll come back to Me when they’ve messed up … well, royally … themselves.

You and I are David’s students.  We are the rebellious ones that David had on his mind.  We are the sinners who need to return to God.  David is reaching out to you across the millenniums through the words he wrote down.  For you.  So you’d know God wants you back, no matter what you’ve done.

So you’d know you can be renewed.

I am Invited to Live

On Life and Grace

I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life. John 5:24 HCSB

I’ve been a Christian since I was 8 years old.  That’s a mighty long time, and you’d think I’d have this Christian-living thing down pat by now. Decades of practice should have already made me perfect.

Except that it hasn’t.  Daily, I make mistakes.  I sometimes act selfishly.  Just last week, I messed up big time and hurt people I love.  Let’s just call it what it was – sin.  If anyone deserves judgment, if anyone has her punishment “coming to her,” it’s me.

And yet, what I got was grace – undeserved favor.  God forgave me. My family forgave me. All is restored and well, and I am a wiser woman because of the ordeal.  Last week, I felt the weight of the yuckiness upon me. This week, I am praising God for the fresh breath of life He’s given.

How can this be?  How can I deserve one thing and receive another?  Because John 5:24 is active in my life.  I have heard Jesus’ words, and I believe them.  I believe God sent Jesus to earth to become my sacrifice, to take my punishment for me.  He died – so I don’t have to.

I will not come under judgment, now or later. While I walk on this planet, I am forgiven and free.  When I step off of it, I will still be forgiven and free.  I have life here.  I’ll have life there.  Eternally.

But this grace didn’t come cheaply.  Christ gave his very life to win it for me.  So, I’m not saying a person can just live however she wants to live, sin as much as she desires, and in the end it’s all ok.  No.  Becoming a Christian means giving your life to Christ, making him Lord and boss.  There is a difference between living your life in willful rebellion and in living it while striving to please Him but tripping over your own humanness every now and then.  I’m in the latter category.

I have passed from death to life.  My sins are paid for.  Christ was judged in my place.

I am free to live.

I am Precious

Mercy and Compassion

Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea. ~Micah 7:18-19, NASB

Mercy and compassion. Two of the most beautiful words penned.

When I work with the kids in Awana, I have a practice of beginning with the bad news: we’re filthy in our hearts. We look together at Jeremiah 17:9 — the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it. Often times these precious ten and eleven year olds can’t seem to grasp the idea that all of us are hopelessly sinful. Dirty.

But me? The more I see of myself, the more I struggle with the darkness of sin in my heart, the more I grasp that I need cleaned. I desperately  need a savior. Here’s what I have a hard time grasping: because He delights in mercy He will again have compassion on us and remove our iniquities.

That kind of compassion honestly blows me away.

My son was recently sick. Puked all over himself and the carpet. Ew. I mean yuck. No one wants to touch that kind of mess. But I’m his mommy, and I love my baby boy. So, I put him in the bath, washed his smelly little body, got him some water and a fresh pair of pjs, and then put him back to bed. And then got to work on the carpet. Scrubbed it until the mess and the smell was gone.

I didn’t tell him to get to cleaning. I didn’t even expect him to help. Compassion washed over me as I tucked my sick boy into his bed. It stayed in my gut even as I set myself to the task of puke evacuation.

Nothing shows love quite like the willingness to clean up someone else’s nasty mess.

I often wonder what Jesus is thinking, feeling, when he cleans my putrid heart. This again? When will she ever learn? Or, This is the last time. I’m not doing this again.

No. Because He delights in mercy, and lavishes His compassion upon me.