Have you ever been in the situation where you’ve made a decision that turned out to be a really bad decision? Perhaps the decision is made in the heat of the moment, or out of curiosity or maybe you just made the decision in haste. Whatever the extenuating circumstance behind the decision, the outcome leaves you standing with jaw open wondering: “What am I going to do now?” When I was a kid, I had the run of the neighbourhood. There weren’t a lot of kids around, so the small number of us basically had the entire area as our playground. Everyone’s back yards, there were a couple of barns (we lived on the edge of town), a small bush; basically nothing was off limits. I did some pretty stupid things. Broke a couple of windows throwing rocks from far away. Not maliciously just with the thought “I wonder if I can hit that”, not really thinking that I could. Then that one rock leaves your hand and you know as soon as you let go of it that it’s going to hit. All you can do is stand in awestruck horror as you watch it fly straight and true through the glass. My parents gave me a bow and arrow one time, one of those fiberglass starter ones, you can image the things that got stuck with arrows. Thankfully nothing living. But many of those “I wonder if I can hit that” type of moments. I think my parents shed had more holes in it than solid wood at one point.
Then you carry around the guilt, hoping no one finds out, hoping that it won’t be noticed. It is a weight that grows in your chest, and instead of getting better with time it just gets heavier. Maybe you get used to carrying it around, but you don’t really get relief from it.
As we read David’s words in Psalms 32 and 51 today we catch a picture of someone who is released from that weight. We read David rejoicing in the release that comes when a wrong is admitted and forgiveness is given. We tend to think that admitting a wrong is the worst possible thing we can do, as if not saying it makes it go away or protects our image as a good, upright, “perfect” person. The truth is that we have this thinking backwards. The truth is that none of us are perfect and the absolute best thing we can do is admit wrong and seek the release that comes with forgiveness.
Don’t get me wrong, David makes it very plain that the process of admittance, the process of manning up to your mistake is not easy. But the pain of that moment is better than the weight we carry when we try to hide or distance ourselves from our wrong. Instead it is better to be honest about our failings than to live the lie required to hide them. Really that is what we do, we lie and keep secrets to cover our inadequacies, and as Aunt May (Spiderman’s Aunt) always says: “All secrets have a cost”.
David’s sin was grievous, his crimes were astounding, his moral failure was off the scale, but the realization of that truth drove him into God, into a process of admitting those mistakes, instead of trying to hide them or running away from God. God already knows what you’ve done (just like my Mother always seemed to know what I’d done), but God is waiting not to condemn or punish you, he is waiting to forgive you and release you from the burden of your mistakes.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: 2 Samuel 13-15